A Rookie’s Guide to: NCAA vs. CHL
Written by Jason Nadeau
I spoke with a concerned mother of a 1st Year Bantam (2000 Birth Year) player at the rink this past week and she was completely in the dark about the differences between the WHL & NCAA college hockey. Having written a Parents guide on both topics (Hockey Advocates Essential Guide to the NCAA & Essential U18 Guide) I started to launch into a very long winded mini-seminar when I realized that there was so much information that it would be veritable blitzkrieg of hockey related facts that would leave her more confused then before we started. I’ve had many conversation where I throw around words like “Major Junior”, “NCAA”, “Tier II Hockey”, “AP Players” and other hockey specific terms that I take for granted that everyone knows and understands. What I needed was to start with the true essentials, a ‘Rookie Guide’ to the NCAA & CHL that will answer the basics of ‘Who-What-Where-When-Why’.
Today’s Topic: What? – Defining Both Leagues
Here are the Basic facts: CHL
● The CHL is the Canadian Hockey League, which is comprised of the Western (WHL) Ontario (OHL) and Quebec (QMJHL) Junior Hockey Leagues. This is the elite developmental Junior Hockey system in the world.
● The CHL is classified as TIER I Hockey and is also known as Major Junior Hockey. There are Canadian & American Franchises.
● It is a separate but important part of the Hockey Canada development system. This means they essentially control their own rules, regulations and financial endeavours while enjoy the benefit of Hockey Canada’s promotion and players.
● Players normally range from 16 to 21 years of age.
● Every season these three leagues draft the Elite players from across North America. They select the Top 200+ players of each age group from their respected geographical areas. The WHL drafts 2nd Year Bantam Players while the QMJHL and OHL draft 1st Year Midget Players.
● Players may earn Academic Scholarship money for each season they play in the CHL. This scholarship program has evolved into the primarily feeder system for the Canadian University Hockey (CIS) system. Although players can and do use their scholarship money for other academic pursuits.
● Every season at the NHL Draft, the CHL is by far the biggest producer of NHL Draft picks internationally. If you want to be drafted, in the majority of cases, the CHL is the quickest route to NHL opportunity. In 2012, the WHL alone produced 32 drafted players, 19 in the top 3 rounds.
NCAA Basic Facts
● The NCAA is the National Collegiate Athletic Association. It has the top college athletic programs in the world. There are 59 Division I Hockey Programs and a 77 Team Division III Hockey League.
● Hockey is a unique sport in the NCAA as Junior Players can graduate high school and then play an additional 3 year of Junior Hockey before they move on the College Level.
● To Earn NCAA scholarships, Players in Canada play Junior A Hockey ‘Tier II’ in Leagues such as the BCHL, AJHL and OJHL. In the USA, one can play in the USHL which is considered a Tier I League as well as in a variety of Tier II and High School or Prep leagues.
● Players are of college age, which means players in the League typically range from 18 to 24 years of age.
● NCAA Teams have up to 18 Full Ride Scholarships to offer to Players each season. This means that players can receive anywhere from 0% to 100% financial assistance from a College Hockey Team. Most players receive 50-75% initially and can earn a ‘Full-Ride’ in their subsequent years.
● In 2011-12, 301 former NCAA players played in the NHL, surpassing 30% of the entire NHL League totals.
Next Article I’ll look at specific issues of contention between the NCAA & CHL.
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