The Eastern Hockey League is continually one of the top junior hockey league’s when it comes to developing players for NCAA hockey. With 181 EHL players or Alumni making their commitments to college hockey in 2015, the EHL has a proven track record of actively pursuing college hockey opportunity for its players.
This season the EHL is looking to continue to enhance the exposure it provides to its aspiring student athletes while being the first USA Hockey sanctioned junior league to institute team performance criteria that will grade organizations on how many players they move on and develop.
Speaking with EHL Executive Director Jeff Nygaard, I asked, “The EHL is known for developing a lot of NCAA hockey players. Can you tell TJHN readers a little about any new initiatives the league has to increase its NCAA development?”
“The EHL has been making progress on the ice and off the ice over the past three years. While our brand is established and effective our teams have been working toward fine-tuning the mission of the league. That took some time — words are easy to come up with but planning and applied execution take a lot of work. Coming up with a story to tell was something we needed to do before embarking on a comprehensive marketing plan. We now have a story to tell in terms of college advancement and the commitment to college advancement. We have all our organizations pulling the rope in the same direction, and we have a league-wide Performance Criteria to which teams will be holding themselves or face severe sanctions. Our teams will be judged each year on their performance in terms of player and college advancement. We have new quotas in effect for all player advancement. That’s a pretty good story to tell as all our teams are operating with a singleness of purpose in mind. We look forward to communicating the successes stories under our new mission.”
I followed with, “With 18 teams, the EHL is one of the larger leagues in North America. Why should players and parents make themselves more aware of the opportunity that can be provided for them to advance in the EHL?”
“As part of our comprehensive marketing plan the league has hired a Director of Public Relations & Social Media. Neil Ravin has come aboard and he is doing a great job building our audiences and telling the story of our players, our teams and our league. We are doing a current player feature story each week, in addition to an alumni feature story each week. That is in addition to general league news as it arises.”
Mark Kumpel, Director of Hockey Operations for the EHL also answered a few questions;
“Why now, after having an already established brand, would the EHL choose to become the title sponsor of TJHN?”
“EHL and TJHN are a natural fit. I believe that the EHL has two primary customers. The first customer is the player and the player’s family. Both customers are in search of the right place for continued development. The EHL provides this. We have quality programs with excellent coaching and support services for all facets of development including, physical, educational, and most important, improving their hockey skills to increase their marketability.
The second customer is the NCAA ice hockey community. Being the ultimate goal of our first customers it is extremely important to provide our second customer with all the information they need to facilitate integrating EHL players into the NCAA community and hockey programs. The EHL is based in the north east, and we are within arm lengths of many schools with hockey programs making it easy for them to witness our product first hand. TJHN will provide a platform that will expand our visibility coast to coast. I know that JR players, colleges and universities that have Ice Hockey programs log on to TJHN to keep in the know. Joining the TJHN family will help us get our brand in front of even more of our primary customers.”