Junior Hockey and Prep School Options

Deciding on a Junior hockey or prep school league to play in might be more difficult than meets the eye. The biggest thing to remember is that you want to play at the highest level possible where you will get the ice-time and opportunities to succeed.

Depending on your age there are different options. After your son or daughter is finished with minor hockey some choices must be made. The options differ depending on your location and sex.

Men's Hockey

Men's hockey options include Junior and prep/high school hockey. Within Juniors there are different classifications: Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, Junior 'B', and Junior 'C'.

Tier 1 hockey includes Canadian Hockey League (CHL), referred to as Major Junior in Canada and the United States Hockey League (USHL). The NCAA views the CHL as a professional league and therefore any player who plays in this league is ineligible to play in the NCAA.

Players in the USHL maintain their eligibility and therefore the USHL is the highest level of Junior hockey that sends players to the NCAA.

There are several viable options to play Tier 2 hockey all over North America. Almost every province in Canada has a Tier 2 league that is highly respected and regularly sends players to the NCAA.

In the USA, there are two Tier 2 leagues, the North American Hockey League (NAHL) and the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL). Both of these leagues routinely send players to the NCAA.

Tier 3, Junior B and C hockey leagues are all over North America. These leagues do not send as many players to the NCAA as the Tier 1 and 2 leagues, but can be a great option to develop as a hockey player.

There is also the option to play prep or high school hockey. Depending on your location the level of play can vary greatly between these leagues. Many prep and high school leagues are highly respected by college coaches.

Women's Hockey

In the women's game of hockey, there are less options for leagues to play in that will get you exposure to NCAA college hockey coaches.

For the most part, female players will play minor hockey until they are a junior or senior in high-school (grade 11 or 12), at which time they will pursue the junior route.

The Provincial Women's Hockey League (PWHL) is played out of Ontario and the Junior Women's Hockey League (JWHL) is the U.S. equivalent.

Depending on where people live they may not have the option of going to Junior and just play midget hockey. Western Canada has strong Midget leagues because there is very little junior hockey.

Other people choose to go the prep school route which is similar to the boy's side.

Women's college hockey coaches scout players from each of these scenarios. Most of the D1 schools would focus mainly on the Prep school and Junior leagues as it is typical to see most of the top end players come from there.

The only league that may be in question of hurting eligibility is the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) which is a newly formed 'professional league'. The policies for paying players and the amateur status of the players in the league is uncertain at this point.


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