Or maybe they are honest? All leagues and teams are certified, annually, by the USA Hockey Junior Council in three (3) classifications: Tier I; Tier II; Tier III ; and provisional for any of the foregoing classifications. Junior hockey is played by athletes between 16 and 20 years old. The first part of making sense of it all is establishing that youth hockey and junior hockey are NOT the same which, initially, is a little confusing for folks living outside of Canada (where they actually call youth hockey minor hockey instead). U.S. college hockey players must be deemed eligible for NCAA competition by the NCAA Eligibility Center, a process that examines a student-athlete's academic qualifications and amateur status. It's all perception. Tier II Commitee. Though, in my opinion, the talent level isn't the "best of the best", it is the American equivalent to Canadian Major Juniors -- the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL. College ice hockey is ice hockey played between colleges with their teams composed of enrolled students. The NTDP consists of two teams; the U.S. National Under-18 Team, and the U.S. National Under-17 Team. In the United States, there are 3 "Tiers" of Junior hockey. Direct from mouth of the head coach of one of the top teams in the country, regarding the FED and all similarly structured leagues, "You've got two really high end teams in each birth year, a bunch all clumped together in the middle that have the same pool of players swapping programs each season, and then a handful of teams that can't get out of their own zone.". The AHL also recognizes a 'standard contract', which signs a player directly to the AHL though the affiliated NHL team has negotiating rights and can upgrade a player to a two-way contract if they so desire. ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Elmira native Johnny Beecher continues to make local hockey history. There are very strong Tier 4 teams (which is generically "town-level" hockey) in our area that are shut out from being allowed to compete in leagues like the FED but still play in wider ranging Tier 1 leagues like the AYHL with great success...and are certainly talented enough to hang with anybody. As with a lot of things in life, and I know I said it already explaining Junior hockey but it's the same here, sometimes it's more about who you know than what you can do. Most of these teams are in Canada, but there have also been teams in the American states of Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Penn… Currently, USA Hockey oversees four junior leagues, including the United States Hockey League (USHL), North American Hockey League (NAHL), Eastern Hockey League (EHL) and North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL). Unlike most American sports, athletes participate in minor ice hockey as part of clubs as opposed to schools. United States men's national ice hockey team, United States women's national ice hockey team, USA Hockey National Team Development Program, Superior International Junior Hockey League, "The Lowest Paid Athletes in All of Professional Sports", "How Much Do Minor League Hockey Players Make? The "Elite" level is the top rung (in that league). Just try and put your player on a team with a good coach, period. Tier 3 teams are coast-to-coast and the leagues change names just as often as the names of the teams do. Tier II Chair. USA Hockey also operates the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. NIHL Visit Website. Major junior hockey is organized into three leagues run by the Canadian Hockey League: the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. While this significantly lowers they're chances of playing Division 1 College hockey, it's still top end hockey that can take you to a Division 3 College. The organization provides structure and regulations, promotes the quality of play, and sponsors National Awards and National Tournaments. In our neck of the woods, in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, at the youth hockey level, there's a great example. I had NO Votes and didn’t know people selecting teams. Major junior hockey is organized into three leagues run by the Canadian Hockey League: the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The United States ice hockey structure includes elements from traditional American scholastic high school and college athletics, affiliated and independent minor leagues, the unique "major junior" leagues, as well as other various amateur junior and youth hockey leagues. There are presently 31 teams in the NHL, with 24 located in the United States and 7 located in Canada. USA Hockey announced today an update to the 2019 National Championships schedule. The FED folks don't really recognize the E9, which is an offshoot of the Boston Hockey League, as a rival...and avoids playing them to preserve their perceived talent level on sites like MyHockeyRankings.com. Okay, all of that aside, now it's time to try to get a grasp on youth hockey. Players in this league retain their NCAA eligibility (which is not the case for players going the Canadian Juniors route) so it's a path most often taken for American players looking to play Division 1 College hockey...as 20+ year old freshman. Unexplainably... USA Hockey classifies the Tier 3 Junior programs for the players under 18 as Tier 1 youth teams. The Connecticut Hockey (CHC) to have the opportunity to enjoy amateur hockey at many different levels.CT Hockey provides the structure and the means for boys and girls age 4 to 19 to learn the necessary skills to play the sport of hockey. (Hate that website, by the way...). CSDHL Visit Website. USA Hockey supports and promotes the Ladder of Development in junior hockey, providing for developmental advancement opportunities based upon skill level. The USHL is the only Tier I junior hockey league in the United States while the NAHL is the only Tier II junior league in the U.S. However, some exceptions do exist, such as Colorado having a sponsored league and Illinois having a non-sponsored league.. Better hockey players make better teams.  The ACHA offers an opportunity for college hockey programs that struggle with large budgets and Title IX issues, as an alternative to the NCAA structure. Before June 1991, the organization was known as the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States (AHAUS).. If your son is super, super, super talented when they're 14, 15, or 16 years old, there's a chance they'll be recruited by a Tier 1 or Tier 2 team and start playing with 20 year olds immediately...and that gives them a semi-decent shot at playing at a Division 1 school on a scholarship. By implementing USA Hockey's ADM, associations will deliver more efficient skill development, will produce more skilled players and experience an increase in player retention. Don't worry about the team/program either. The NAHL, however, classifies itself as an "alternative" to the USHL. As part of this update, the 2019 Youth Tier I tournaments will begin and conclude one day earlier than previously scheduled, and the Women’s Senior A, B, and C tournaments will shift locations to Irvine, California, which is also hosting the Girls Tier I Nationals. It's one thing to try to play for the top team in one of the top leagues at your specific birth year...but just trying to crack a team in a specific league because you, as a parent, see it as the top league is not a recipe for success or development. The United States men's national ice hockey team is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado and is composed of American-born ice hockey players from college through the NHL level.  Most of the teams of the ECHL have affiliation agreements with NHL and AHL teams, although it is not a requirement and independent ECHL teams can have players from any NHL/AHL team assigned.  The NCAA currently has three divisions for ice hockey, Division I, Division II and Division III. The Canadian Juniors also scout the crap out of this level and you could end up there as well -- a more "direct" path to professional hockey, if that's the goal. , High schools in some states compete in sanctioned ice hockey leagues sponsored by State High School Association while other states compete in leagues not sponsored by their State High School Association.