On Saturday afternoon I gave my second of two speeches regarding the paths to NCAA hockey at the Pre Draft Combine. Following each speech we have a question and answer session for players and parents.
Throughout the course of the weekend, one question continued to come up. And that question was;
“Should a Midget aged player leave AAA hockey for an opportunity in Tier III or pay to play hockey?”
It is a pretty broad question to ask since each player and family circumstances is different. Financial circumstances, family circumstances, local playing opportunity limitations, and the players goals can all impact any specific advice I would give to a client.
That said, there is some very general information we can all go by, learn from, and allow it to help assist us in making our individual decisions.
If the long term goal is to play NCAA hockey, and if that goal is to be achieved through the USHL, NAHL or any other league that holds an annual player draft, then simply look at the draft results. Players being drafted come from AAA hockey in a great majority of instances.
The draft results will tell you where each league scouts the most and places their highest values on prospects.
In a great majority of circumstances that high value is placed on Midget hockey, or Prep school. Very few players are drafted from Tier III or pay to play hockey. The new NCDC took a vast majority of its drafted players from AAA programs as well.
That doesn’t mean that Tier III hockey isn’t good, or isn’t the right path for some players, it just means that the great majority of players entering those leagues are coming from age specific programing.
Considering some communities do not offer Midget AAA programing, but they do offer Tier III or pay to play programs. In that circumstance, if you are not ready to move away from home, or do not want to move away from home, then Tier III is a great option.
If you are in a situation where finances will dictate where you play, then the decision is a simple one. Do what’s best for your family situation financially. Do not go into massive debt for any playing option.
Finally, if you can afford it, and you are serious about pursuing an NCAA opportunity, hire an experienced adviser to help you with these decisions. It will not be inexpensive, but if he is a good adviser he will end up saving you time, money, and stress while helping put you in a great position to achieve your dreams.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser