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The College Hockey Landscape: A Study of the 21-year-old Freshman

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kwey24    0
kwey24

Interesting comments to that article.  The last one makes me laugh where they ask if it's worth playing junior hockey to play NCAA DIII hockey as a 21-year-old freshman over going to a Division 1 club team out of high school.  News flash: Almost nobody makes an ACHA D1 club team that's any good at all straight out of high school or midget AAA.  The premise to that person's question is totally false, and this is why the national tournament teams in ACHA D1 and a few others are right there with NCAA DIII in caliber of play.  I swear nobody researches the ACHA D1 rosters.  Ours at Iowa State is full of guys who played in the NAHL, Tier II in Canada, or were top players in the NA3HL.  Our ACHA D2 team this year will have a number of guys who played Tier III junior hockey and were decent players at that level. 

That said, we have one defenseman who may make our team straight out of Minnesota high school hockey (the first in a long, long time) and one goaltender out of midget AAA who may make our ACHA D1 team.  The battle for our third ACHA D1 spot is going to be intense this week amongst five qualified candidates (meaning our ACHA D2 team is going to have exceptional goaltending, too). 

The players like John Scully, Chris Cimoch, and Daniel Walcott are few and far between and becoming even more rare. (The first two were impact ACHA players out of high school and Daniel Walcott came out of New Trier high school to play one year at Lindenwood before going to the QMJHL and then getting drafted.)

Then, when assessing birth years, it would have been good to see how many of those "high-school-aged" players entering as 18-year-olds or 19-year-olds were USNTDP players or guys who played in the USHL.  Nick Leddy is almost a unicorn now. Sorry, high school folks.

Edited by kwey24

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SCBlueLiner    1
SCBlueLiner

I have a son who is playing Midgets now.  I read articles like this and it makes me cringe.  There is no reason that a kid should have to play multiple years of juniors, T3 pay-to-play juniors no less, just to play NCAA D3 or ACHA D1 hockey.  This system is setup to crush parents financially and the sane ones won't deal with this system and pull the plug early or don't enter it to begin with.  Bottom line, USA Hockey is missing out on athletes and potentially good hockey players as a result. 

Simple solution, Tier 1 and Tier 2 juniors, the USHL and NAHL, have a 20 year old age limit.  Tier 3 pay-to-play should be a 19 year old age limit.  Force the D3 schools to take those players earlier.  Right now the college coaches are just letting players sit in junior leagues and claiming they need more "development".  No they don't, the coaches just won't take them until they absolutely have to, holding out for a better player to come along.

Finally, I said in the beginning my son is currently playing Midget AAA.  It costs a lot of money to play Midget AAA.  I'm happy to give him his shot but I will hold firm with this, I will not pay for him to play Tier 3 Juniors, no way, no how.  If he is going to make it to college his path will have to be Midgets - USHL/NAHL - College (admittedly, he's trending to be more likely an NAHL caliber player than USHL).  I will not pay for him to play Tier 3.  He can just go to college and call it a hockey career if it comes to that.  Just not worth it.

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minor life    2
minor life

The system is not set up to fail for kids going D-3.  there simply aren't enough NCAA programs at D-1, 2 and 3 to support the volume of qualified players available to them now.  99% of 18 or 19 yr olds could not compete at D-3 at this point.  Its really good hockey.  Then again Kwey pointed out ACHA is also just as good in many cases and better in others.

I would say that Tier 3 needs to be for 19 and 20 yr olds only.  No 18 and under.  Keep them in Midget until they are ready for junior.  All Tier 3 is not created equal either.  You cant just lump all those teams together.  

SCBlueliner.... If a great school like Stevens Point, Curry, or Salve comes along and says they would like him to attend, but they cant take him until he is physically ready....you wouldn't have him play junior and take part time classes in order to make that happen?  Just because you're playing junior after HS doesn't mean you cant take some classes.  It may delay graduation, but you get everything you want that way.

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hockeyboy    0
hockeyboy
4 hours ago, SCBlueLiner said:

I have a son who is playing Midgets now.  I read articles like this and it makes me cringe.  There is no reason that a kid should have to play multiple years of juniors, T3 pay-to-play juniors no less, just to play NCAA D3 or ACHA D1 hockey.  This system is setup to crush parents financially and the sane ones won't deal with this system and pull the plug early or don't enter it to begin with.  Bottom line, USA Hockey is missing out on athletes and potentially good hockey players as a result. 

Simple solution, Tier 1 and Tier 2 juniors, the USHL and NAHL, have a 20 year old age limit.  Tier 3 pay-to-play should be a 19 year old age limit.  Force the D3 schools to take those players earlier.  Right now the college coaches are just letting players sit in junior leagues and claiming they need more "development".  No they don't, the coaches just won't take them until they absolutely have to, holding out for a better player to come along.

Finally, I said in the beginning my son is currently playing Midget AAA.  It costs a lot of money to play Midget AAA.  I'm happy to give him his shot but I will hold firm with this, I will not pay for him to play Tier 3 Juniors, no way, no how.  If he is going to make it to college his path will have to be Midgets - USHL/NAHL - College (admittedly, he's trending to be more likely an NAHL caliber player than USHL).  I will not pay for him to play Tier 3.  He can just go to college and call it a hockey career if it comes to that.  Just not worth it.

 I would take that AAA midget money and put it in a college fund.  I'm not aware of any "cant miss kids" coming up in Sioux City.  I would hate to see somebody spend an entire college education chasing a dream.  Just remember if your child is not a top 2 or 3 player on a very good AAA team I would consider the NAHL a long shot.

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SCBlueLiner    1
SCBlueLiner

I'm not from Sioux City, just have a thing with the Musketeers from eons ago, but I do understand what you are saying about putting it towards college instead.  IMO, there is no such thing as "can't miss" though.  Even with some young superstars, there is always some way for them to screw it up, so many pitfalls out there.  There are also those that just take time to develop and you need to let things play out to see where they will end up. 

---------------------------------------------

ML, I would have to have a written guarantee from the school for that to happen and if he was good enough for that to happen he could more than likely stick on an NAHL roster somewhere rather than going T3.  I did limit my stance though, I specifically said he would not play Tier 3, if he was playing NAHL as a 19/20 year old I would be fine with it.  In fact, I've already had the discussion with him and his mother that if he goes down this road that would be the probable path, playing juniors at 19/20 while taking community college classes prior to entering college.  I don't have any issue with that, in fact, I think that will help greatly prepare him for life.  I've seen way too many kids go straight to college out of high school and flunk out because they just weren't ready to handle the freedom they get in college.  What I won't do is chase the dream of college by playing Tier 3 juniors in the hope that some offer comes along somewhere.  The statistics are overwhelming that is a losing proposition.

I disagree with your very first sentence though, I believe the system is set up to fail.  If you have to play T3 juniors, and pay 10s of thousands of dollars to do it, just to get an NCAA D3 or ACHA D1 offer then the system is broken.  You shouldn't have to pay through the nose just to achieve a non-scholarship position.  It makes no rational sense and it most definitely has an effect on limiting the player pool.  There are quality talented players who give up or get priced out before it gets to that point.  That was kind of the entire point of the article though, the debate between younger and more talented vs. older and more "developed".

Where we agree is that there are a bunch of talented players and not enough spots at the college level.  It almost becomes a war of attrition or who can wait out who the longest, i.e. who has the funds to stay in the game the longest or who is the most willing to go deep in debt.

BTW, I have read your work over the years and do know that not all T3 are created equal. 

Edited by SCBlueLiner

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minor life    2
minor life

I agree a lot of Tier 3 is way over priced.  With all due respect and please take no offense, but not everyone should have an opportunity to play NCAA hockey at any level.  Regardless of age.  NCAA hockey is a business like any other form of hockey, and that business needs to put the best product on the ice to produce revenue.  Colleges are not there to be fair to people either.  

I wouldn't just limit myself to the NAHL when exiting AAA though either.  Canada has a lot of great free to play and inexpensive to play options.  I use Canada to take younger guys, place them for a year, then move them back for the NAHL.  Its better than most Tier 3 and just a hair not as good as the NAHL.  It really is Tier 2.5 IMO.  Its a great place to get a player ready and have him make the transition.

It is very difficult to make the transition from AAA to the NAHL or USHL.  You really do have to be a special player.  This makes sense when you look at the combined college commits.  Every player has his own path.  What's right for one is not usually right for another.

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Maiden    2
Maiden
36 minutes ago, hockeyboy said:

 I would take that AAA midget money and put it in a college fund.  I'm not aware of any "cant miss kids" coming up in Sioux City.  I would hate to see somebody spend an entire college education chasing a dream.  Just remember if your child is not a top 2 or 3 player on a very good AAA team I would consider the NAHL a long shot.

I hear people say "put the damn hockey money in a college fund" over and over and over. OK what do you with all time you spent with your son/daughter when it came to hockey? or baseball? gymnastics? cheer?

I have tons of memories of my time with my children playing the sports they loved.

If your children play any sport so that they can go to college for free you're in the wrong pursuit. Plain and simple.

 

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SCBlueLiner    1
SCBlueLiner
22 minutes ago, minor life said:

I agree a lot of Tier 3 is way over priced.  With all due respect and please take no offense, but not everyone should have an opportunity to play NCAA hockey at any level.  Regardless of age.  NCAA hockey is a business like any other form of hockey, and that business needs to put the best product on the ice to produce revenue.  Colleges are not there to be fair to people either.  

I wouldn't just limit myself to the NAHL when exiting AAA though either.  Canada has a lot of great free to play and inexpensive to play options.  I use Canada to take younger guys, place them for a year, then move them back for the NAHL.  Its better than most Tier 3 and just a hair not as good as the NAHL.  It really is Tier 2.5 IMO.  Its a great place to get a player ready and have him make the transition.

It is very difficult to make the transition from AAA to the NAHL or USHL.  You really do have to be a special player.  This makes sense when you look at the combined college commits.  Every player has his own path.  What's right for one is not usually right for another.

I agree with what you say, NCAA athletics isn't for everybody.  I've been through that personally, not hockey, and know what you are talking about.  As for one of the Canadian leagues, yeah, I'd be open to that too.  The key for me is free/inexpensive to play and is it a legitimate path.  In know there are many different paths and each player has to find their own, so I'm not stuck on one track.  Just saying I won't throw money at junior hockey chasing it.  I also wanted to point out that USA Hockey does have a problem with this, the cost thing trickles down to the youngest ages.  If you've done recruitment at the Mite level you'd find out that people are aware of the potential money pit at the end and it does give them a moment of pause about getting their kids involved.

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SCBlueLiner    1
SCBlueLiner
13 minutes ago, Maiden said:

I hear people say "put the damn hockey money in a college fund" over and over and over. OK what do you with all time you spent with your son/daughter when it came to hockey? or baseball? gymnastics? cheer?

I have tons of memories of my time with my children playing the sports they loved.

If your children play any sport so that they can go to college for free you're in the wrong pursuit. Plain and simple.

 

Yep.  It's not a money thing to a degree.  At some point you have to make a decision as to whether your chasing something that will never happen.  When you're dead and gone they don't remember your account balance, they remember the times you shared together.

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Maiden    2
Maiden
8 minutes ago, SCBlueLiner said:

Yep.  It's not a money thing to a degree.  At some point you have to make a decision as to whether your chasing something that will never happen.  When you're dead and gone they don't remember your account balance, they remember the times you shared together.

Don't get me wrong, the price for kids to play hockey is reaching its' tipping point in some areas. Fairly soon you will start to see a drop off in participation.

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minor life    2
minor life

We did a story a few years ago that Hockey is the new sport of kings.  The money at the junior level though is only part of the problem.  

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Mr Ricochet    2
Mr Ricochet
2 hours ago, Maiden said:

I hear people say "put the damn hockey money in a college fund" over and over and over. OK what do you with all time you spent with your son/daughter when it came to hockey? or baseball? gymnastics? cheer?

I have tons of memories of my time with my children playing the sports they loved.

If your children play any sport so that they can go to college for free you're in the wrong pursuit. Plain and simple.

 

 

2 hours ago, SCBlueLiner said:

Yep.  It's not a money thing to a degree.  At some point you have to make a decision as to whether your chasing something that will never happen.  When you're dead and gone they don't remember your account balance, they remember the times you shared together.

Really good thread and man I can sympathize with any parent/family, and many siblings doing without, trying to come up with funds to put a kid on the ice.  Your honesty and willingness to share your story will be read by many parents just like you and your family. 

And what you and Maiden are saying about what is remembered is important but IMO as great as those memories are, and even more so when your parents are gone, you wanna get your child educated whatever way you can.  That you are going into this having done the research to make an educated plan with options makes me think it will work out for you and your kid.  ..... Best of luck, I really mean that. 

Memories from sports are taken to the grave and carried on by those who are still able to do so and the cycle repeats.  I can walk into the Legion in my old hood today and within an hr most times the baseball championships 3 yrs in a row between the Rams and Colts played by 7-8-9 yr olds in the early 70's will be brought up by men in their 80's.   3 game series' and I still have some clippings that specifically point out a couple of those games were errorless, by 7-8-9 yr olds!  I know who won those series', we all do in the old hood, but what many of us remember most is how fundamentals were relentlessly driven into us as babies to the point 18 children bought in and could play a 6 inning championship game and play errorless ball that resulted in 1 run games. 

Sorry bout that.  I'll spare you the hockey and football stories. 

 

 

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tpriest    0
tpriest

Great topic and discussion guys. This hits home to me as well as my son has played hockey all through the youth program and will now be playing High School. I never sprung for the whole AAA program, where we play it's an 1.5 hour drive to the closest AAA opportunity and with our jobs and other kids activities it just wasn't realistic. I told my son years ago when he first started playing and looking to be a pretty good player that I wouldn't put a lien on the house or go in debt for his hockey (I think "sell the farm" was the exact term I used). 
That being said, he's now a freshman playing in the MHSHL. He was invited to a NA futures camp last summer, we went and he had a good camp. Had good feedback and was given some things he needed to work on and was told they'd keep an eye on him this year and would like to see him back next summer. Now I have no idea what, if anything this will turn into but it's an opportunity that he earned, not that I had to pay big money for. 
We are a housing family for the Saints and talk with a lot of parents of the kids that come through our house and it just floors me what these people pay to get their kids to the USHL level. There are the handful of them that do make it on sheer talent and hard work but having an unlimited amount of money to spend definitely gives kids more opportunities. It will be tough day when the day comes that the boy doesn't make it to the next level. I will always wonder "what if"...what if I did spend the money, took out a loan, drove a beater, made the other child suffer so my son could play at a higher level? 

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SCBlueLiner    1
SCBlueLiner

If you are in Dubuque their are many AAA opportunities around you.  There are several programs in Chicago, a program in Madison, and one in Des Moines.  I'm assuming if your son is playing for Dubuque in the Midwest High School league that he is Midget age.  If so you would need to send him off to live with a host family if he were to play AAA.  At this point you are either 100% committed into it or you are just playing out the string in HS for fun (nothing wrong with that).  If you expect any hockey future for him coming out of the HS league you need to manage your expectations, that just doesn't happen anymore, not unless he's in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

If you are a billet family you must have some relationship with the Dubuque USHL team.  Ask a coach their opinion, does your son have a realistic shot of coming out of Dubuque HS and making it on the roster of an NAHL or USHL team?  If a USHL or NAHL team is interested in him they will scout several of his games throughout the year.  The reality is that these Junior programs do not have the resources to scout the Midwest HS league.  It's just not a good return on their scouting dollars.  In order for him to garner any interest he's going to need to play AAA, if only for the access to play in front of scouts.  Odds of walking into an open camp, making it through the camp and getting invited to the main camp, then actually making the roster are very, very long.  It has happened, but it is very hard.

I might be wrong with my analysis.  If I am I'd like to hear it.  I'm sure I'll get the standard "if you can play they will find you".  Statistically speaking, that doesn't appear to be the case.

Edited by SCBlueLiner

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minor life    2
minor life
56 minutes ago, tpriest said:

Great topic and discussion guys. This hits home to me as well as my son has played hockey all through the youth program and will now be playing High School. I never sprung for the whole AAA program, where we play it's an 1.5 hour drive to the closest AAA opportunity and with our jobs and other kids activities it just wasn't realistic. I told my son years ago when he first started playing and looking to be a pretty good player that I wouldn't put a lien on the house or go in debt for his hockey (I think "sell the farm" was the exact term I used). 
That being said, he's now a freshman playing in the MHSHL. He was invited to a NA futures camp last summer, we went and he had a good camp. Had good feedback and was given some things he needed to work on and was told they'd keep an eye on him this year and would like to see him back next summer. Now I have no idea what, if anything this will turn into but it's an opportunity that he earned, not that I had to pay big money for. 
We are a housing family for the Saints and talk with a lot of parents of the kids that come through our house and it just floors me what these people pay to get their kids to the USHL level. There are the handful of them that do make it on sheer talent and hard work but having an unlimited amount of money to spend definitely gives kids more opportunities. It will be tough day when the day comes that the boy doesn't make it to the next level. I will always wonder "what if"...what if I did spend the money, took out a loan, drove a beater, made the other child suffer so my son could play at a higher level? 

This is a difficult subject.  I was a hockey parent too, so I know how people feel.  I don't miss paying a grand or so every summer for new skates.  A half dozen sticks each year minimum, plus all the other related expenses.  One simple piece of advice I give to all clients and non-clients alike.....

Do not do team open or team pre draft camps.  Go to showcases where there will be a lot of scouts.  More bang for your buck.  The average person, based on a poll we took, spends $6500 or more each summer chasing those camps with little to no results.  A good showcase will get you in front of a lot of decision makers in one event and if you perform well, you will leave with offers in hand.

"We need to see more" is the most used BS phrase in junior hockey.  If they haven't seen enough during the regular season and playoffs, then they either didn't scout you, or they aren't that interested.  If you are a second line average player, look in the mirror and see where you fit in.  Be honest with yourself and you will save a ton of money every summer.  This is a big business, there are ways to make it work for you.  Chasing camps like an addict chasing his first high is not one of them.

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tpriest    0
tpriest
20 minutes ago, SCBlueLiner said:

If you are in Dubuque their are many AAA opportunities around you.  There are several programs in Chicago, a program in Madison, and one in Des Moines.  I'm assuming if your son is playing for Dubuque in the Midwest High School league that he is Midget age.  If so you would need to send him off to live with a host family if he were to play AAA.  At this point you are either 100% committed into it or you are just playing out the string in HS for fun (nothing wrong with that).  If you expect any hockey future for him coming out of the HS league you need to manage your expectations, that just doesn't happen anymore, not unless he's in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

If you are a billet family you must have some relationship with the Dubuque USHL team.  Ask a coach their opinion, does your son have a realistic shot of coming out of Dubuque HS and making it on the roster of an NAHL or USHL team?  If a USHL or NAHL team is interested in him they will scout several of his games throughout the year.  The reality is that these Junior programs do not have the resources to scout the Midwest HS league.  It's just not a good return on their scouting dollars.  In order for him to garner any interest he's going to need to play AAA, if only for the access to play in front of scouts.  Odds of walking into an open camp, making it through the camp and getting invited to the main camp, then actually making the roster are very, very long.  It has happened, but it is very hard.

I might be wrong with my analysis.  If I am I'd like to hear it.  I'm sure I'll get the standard "if you can play they will find you".  Statistically speaking, that doesn't appear to be the case.

Yeah, there are AAA and Midget opportunities fairly close but we don't have the interest in it as parents (time and money) or my son at this age (he's not ready to be billeted at 14). Quite honestly, back to how my original post started was the money, what people are paying to get their kids playing AAA is eye opening to me. My son is decent, I'm not living a pipe dream through his hockey though. As long as he's having fun and I can give him some small opportunities we are happy. We know it takes 10-15 grand a year to really get your name out there and there still isn't a guarantee. 
The "If you can play they will find you" phrase is hogwash really. Needle in a haystack, it's happened but it's rare. 

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Maiden    2
Maiden

I don't have any idea the answer to this question so here it is. How much does it cost to play Dubuque High School? Is it a private club or does the school subsidize it?

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tpriest    0
tpriest
24 minutes ago, minor life said:

This is a difficult subject.  I was a hockey parent too, so I know how people feel.  I don't miss paying a grand or so every summer for new skates.  A half dozen sticks each year minimum, plus all the other related expenses.  One simple piece of advice I give to all clients and non-clients alike.....

Do not do team open or team pre draft camps.  Go to showcases where there will be a lot of scouts.  More bang for your buck.  The average person, based on a poll we took, spends $6500 or more each summer chasing those camps with little to no results.  A good showcase will get you in front of a lot of decision makers in one event and if you perform well, you will leave with offers in hand.

"We need to see more" is the most used BS phrase in junior hockey.  If they haven't seen enough during the regular season and playoffs, then they either didn't scout you, or they aren't that interested.  If you are a second line average player, look in the mirror and see where you fit in.  Be honest with yourself and you will save a ton of money every summer.  This is a big business, there are ways to make it work for you.  Chasing camps like an addict chasing his first high is not one of them.

The NA futures camp we did was the first camp like that we have done. I had maybe $500 bucks in the weekend so it wasn't overly expensive for the experience he got. He doesn't play AAA so we were really interested in how he would hang with kids from all over the US And Canada, and he hung well so if anything it was a confident booster for him going into HS this season. If he is invited back to that specific teams camp I would probably do it again for this experience for him. Obviously being involved with the Saints USHL program as Billets helps us I think. There's some cross staffing between the Saints and the NA team we are dealing with. 
Chasing pre draft camps, spending thousands won't happen with us. I see no value. If we get nothing more out of the futures camp we did other than the experience, meeting some people, and a fun father/son weekend away making memories, we'll be content with that. If anything more comes of it, that's just extra value for us. 
I truly appreciate your insight and knowledge sharing on the topic. That's one of the most difficult parts of bringing a young player up through this is getting someone to share experience and knowledge with you. So, thank you! 

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tpriest    0
tpriest
27 minutes ago, Maiden said:

I don't have any idea the answer to this question so here it is. How much does it cost to play Dubuque High School? Is it a private club or does the school subsidize it?

This year our fees were $2600 to play HS hockey in Dbq. That includes all ice time, travel (hotel and bus), and jerseys, socks, and warm ups. That can change every year depending on the size of the team...
It is private, schools have nothing to do with it. Kids can't even use their "School permits" to legally drive to practice because it isn't a "school sanctioned" sport. 

Edited by tpriest
Added more to answer.

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SCBlueLiner    1
SCBlueLiner

This is the hard part for me.  I look at the map and Dubuque is located 100 miles from the Minnesota border.  Drive a couple of hours north and you are in Rochester.  If your kid was growing up in Rochester, MN, just a few hours away, he would have access to MN HS Hockey, where if he was a standout he would be scouted, the MN HS Elite League, the Bantam Elite League, B&A Midget AAA hockey, etc.  The full resources of MN Hockey behind him to give him a chance.  But because he was born where he is you are on your own and have to drop $10,000 a year to "advance" his hockey career.

This is what I'm talking about when I say the hockey system in the USA is screwed up.  USA Hockey needs to do more to address this.  I guarantee you that talented players are slipping through the cracks and are underdeveloped because of the way the system is set up.  We probably had the next Wayne Gretzky playing hockey already in the U.S. but he quit as a Pee Wee because the sport cost too much and his parents felt it was easier for him to just play basketball.

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Maiden    2
Maiden

IMO unless your son is of elite ability you made the same decision I would have made at the time.

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Mr Ricochet    2
Mr Ricochet
8 hours ago, SCBlueLiner said:

 

 

10 hours ago, tpriest said:

 He was invited to a NA futures camp last summer, we went and he had a good camp.

He was invited to an NAHL camp? 

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Canarse    2
Canarse

It is very hard to compete at the highest levels of hockey without spending a load of money.  The youth hockey season seems to be endless.  Almost impossible to be able to compete at multiple sports at a high level and be a hockey player unless you live in Minnesota, and even that seems to be getting harder.  USA Hockey feeds this with National Championships in April and National Festivals in June.  When does a teenager play another sport or take a break?  Many people are willing to spend the money on their kids, so it won't change any time soon.  I am one of them.  I've spent the money.  We haven't gone broke, and we've all had fun.  It's worked out for my son...so far.  

I agree about tier 3 pay-to-play for the most part.  I've told my son the same thing you have, SCBlueliner.  I'm not paying for Tier3.  Especially now that there is the NCDC I can't imagine paying to play.  Between the USHL, NAHL, NCDC and Junior A Canadian leagues if you are 19-20 years old and can't find a spot there it's time to move on.  On the other hand, if a kid wants to play a year or two of Tier3 juniors for the fun and experience and the parents are willing to pay who am I to judge?  Now, if that Tier3 team is "selling the dream" of a Division I scholarship, etc., I find that pretty disgusting.  

Trying to get to Division I or Division III hockey is a highly competitive road.  It takes a lot of money and sacrifice.  There are plenty of charlatans out ready to pump your tires just to get some more money out of you.  My suggestion is to stick with coaches and advisors that give it to you straight.  If it's all rainbows and sunshine about your kid...think twice.  Every kid has deficiencies.  If they aren't telling you the good and bad beware.  

SCBlueliner and tpriest I hope you and your son are having fun while you go down this road.  That's the most important thing IMO.  

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kwey24    0
kwey24

Tier III is an interesting discussion now.  I played Tier III in Minnesota last century and it cost less than $2,000.  Now, our setup was nearly as good as most of the Tier III teams now...

My son is at the beginning of this journey (should start travel squirt hockey this season).  For me, I'm planning on him either playing for the Oak Leafs or Capitals or perhaps the Iowa Wild AAA if he is good enough; but, I might insist he be on the second team (the one that doesn't travel as far).  I want to be the one shaping his character and I also want to make sure he is not losing tons of time on his education just traveling to and from these places.  I've taken enough bus rides and flights in hockey to know how much studying is truly possible on travel days, especially when airports are involved.  Yes, I know that online-guided home-schooling is all the rage for elite travel athletes now; but, I still feel like there is value to my son (and daughter) actually going to school.  Do they learn a lot of annoying stuff? Yes.  But, it's also an opportunity to learn how to interact with people from a diverse background.  In real life, that's important.  I don't want my son living a life insulated only in the wealthy hockey culture.  I'm very intentional in teaching him to play a blue-collar style of hockey.  Even if he ends up a first line player, I still want him being the one skating the hardest as F1, or skating hardest on the backcheck, or blocking shots.  Only the very, very elite in the NHL go their whole hockey career never playing as a third- or fourth-liner.  I actually think being a fourth-liner (at least for awhile) is very important in building character (or revealing it).

So, I'll save the money in his teens and, if he's good enough, then we'll look at Tier III and start spending the money.  Or, maybe he ends up one of the unicorns that comes out of the MwHSHL and plays in the NAHL (Kody Reuter did it--yes, with a year in Omaha squeezed in).  But, I envision my son's path (he says he wants to pursue hockey) as involving Tier III and I'll be pretty set on that being in Minnesota.  That's where relatives are and I want to be able to see his games.  I truly believe if you're good enough, you can come up through Tier III, up through ACHA or NCAA DIII, and go on to play ECHL hockey or even higher.  Heck, Daniel Walcott used Lindenwood as his development before going to major junior! (Odd path, but here we are.)

This is where I really like the CSDHL in Illinois.  It's solid Tier II midget (or midget AA) hockey, that's not ridiculously expensive, has reasonable travel, and most of the kids can also still play high school hockey.  Do those kids go on to play in the NAHL in droves? No, but where do most NAHLers end up?  NCAA DIII or ACHA D1.  So, if the landing spot is generally the same...  If you can play NAHL hockey, do it!  But, is it worth spending well over $10,000 a year to play Tier 1 midget to get there?  My thinking above on all of this is why I am a fan of Minnesota high school hockey (with the Elite League); because the kids can live balanced lives and play other sports to continue to build their athletic IQ.  You can start specializing in high school and that is wise for the very, very elite; but, for most it's better to keep doing track or keep doing baseball, etc.  I'd encourage everyone to keep having your son play soccer until they're 12, just because of the athletic stimulation it provides the mind.  Like hockey, it's very dynamic and you're having to process a lot of information while everyone is moving--like in hockey.

I'd love it if the cost of Tier III went down.  This is where the demise of the MnJHL bums me out.  Every league now insists on these teams playing in league-wide showcases in a location or two each season.  It jacks the price up a lot.  In the MnJHL in my day, I slept in my own bed every night except for the weekend we were at a tournament in Thunder Bay.  I was able to use that extra time spending hours in the gym every day and actually working my part-time job. 

In defense of ACHA (especially high-level ACHA D1) and NCAA DIII hockey, we need to remember what hockey really teaches--how to be a man.  I don't mean from a machismo standpoint, that isn't the definition of a man.  I mean responsibility, balancing responsibilities, the concept of work and reward, teamwork, selflessness, time management.  You take hockey away from a lot of these college hockey players, I promise you they don't fill it with mission work for their church, volunteering in the community, or most anything else worthwhile that benefits the community.  Idle hands do the devil's work.  No adult worth anything gets to concentrate entirely on their job.  You're balancing work, family, volunteering (coaching perhaps), church work, etc.  If you have to dedicate all of your time to your studies, I fear you're not going to make it in life.

I paid a fair amount for my college education (although not nearly as much as kids today...); but, most of the very most important things I learned in college were through or involving hockey. 

 

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