The Willistonian, Est. 1881

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Next Step for Hockey Players: College or Junior League?

Hockey+players+line+up+during+the+National+Anthem+at+Senior+Night+2017+against+Pomfret.+Credit%3A+Williston+Flickr.
Hockey players line up during the National Anthem at Senior Night 2017 against Pomfret. Credit: Williston Flickr.

Hockey players line up during the National Anthem at Senior Night 2017 against Pomfret. Credit: Williston Flickr.

Hockey players line up during the National Anthem at Senior Night 2017 against Pomfret. Credit: Williston Flickr.

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NEPSAC Hockey is one of the most competitive high school leagues in the country. Prep schools recruit players from all over the country to help them go to Division 1 schools and Division 3 schools, but where do the rest go? Many go to the Junior Hockey leagues.

Junior Hockey is one of the highest levels of amateur hockey in the country. It ranges from ages 16-21 years old. Most hockey players have played in Junior league teams as it helps them prepare for the next level of hockey.

Connor Canterbury ’18 came from Alaska last year in hope to improve his chances to go play college hockey. Goalie Xander Rogers ’18 was recruited from California to play hockey this year. Both are not sure yet on whether to go play in college or in the junior leagues as there are so many different factors that play out.

Seniors from last year who went to the junior leagues instead of college were Jojo Carbone, Steven Gower, Mike D’Ambrosio, and Owen Sylvia, who all play for the Junior Bruins in the USPHL (United States Premier Hockey League). Brendan White also went to the junior league and plays for the Johnstown Tomahawks in the NAHL (North American Hockey League).

“Those kids who don’t go play college hockey normally always go and play for a junior league team,” said Connor.

When asked about the pros and cons Connor said, “I think it has its positive side with giving players a chance to just focus on hockey and try to make it to the NHL. On the other hand, if you don’t make it I would just say it’s a waste of time.”

In Canada the major junior leagues have three leagues that are all controlled by the Canadian Hockey League: the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League.

In the United States the top level of junior hockey is known as Tier I, which is governed by the United States Hockey League. Tier II is governed by the North American Hockey League. There are multiple Tier III leagues throughout the country. A few teams in the Canadian major junior leagues are also based in the United States.

In Europe, junior teams are often sponsored by professional teams, and act as development and feeder associations for those organizations.

Xander’s view of hockey has changed over the past few years as he has been able to play in many different teams across the country and get a broad aspect of how the sport varies throughout different areas.

“Back where I play [in Anaheim, California] the high school hockey is a mess and club hockey is [political], so I moved here to play what I would say to be the 3rd best youth hockey in the country.”

Xander said, “I would like to go play juniors because the way to get to college or become a walk on to D1. From Williston I can get drafted to play Division 3. Juniors is a whole different thing, you go to play juniors to get the experience so by the time you become a freshman in college you will be a starter.”

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Next Step for Hockey Players: College or Junior League?