If your child is serious about their dream of playing High School, Juniors, College or in the NHL? The purpose of this document is to provide some clarity and resources around the sport of hockey in the State of Utah. Ultimately, to help educate yourself as your child goes through this journey. Be an advocate for your player by understanding the motivation, commitment, benefits, and have a game plan for your players future.
Please keep in mind this is intended as an educational guide, and not to discourage players from pursuing their dreams.
USA Hockey provides the foundation for the sport of ice hockey in America
- Mites: 8 & under
- Squirts: 10 & under
- Peewee: 12 & under
- Bantam: 15 & under
- Midget: 18 & under
- 16+ (junior, NCAA, professional)
Understanding Hockey in Utah
Utah Amateur Hockey Association – The Utah Amateur Hockey Association is an official affiliate of USA Hockey and governs all amateur hockey in the entire state of Utah (Rocky Mountain District/USA Hockey).
- House Leagues or Recreational teams are intra-city programs, and players may be of any skill level (ages 6 – 15 years old, Mites thru Bantam).
- Learn To Play Hockey Programs – usually for new players, who have never played organized hockey before (ages 4-18).
- For more information on organization in your area please visit Utah Amateur Hockey Association under the “organizations” section.
- Travel Teams (see “Understanding Travel Hockey in Utah”)
- Utah High School Hockey Association (9th – 12th grades)
- Adult Leagues (ages 18 +) – usually run through county facilities
Understanding Travel Hockey in Utah
Tier I is the highest level of hockey available to youth players (U14, U16, U18).
- Tier 1 – WCR (14U, 16U, 18U) is the only approved Tier 1 program in the State of Utah
- Tier 2 – 14U, 16U, 18U – Eagles, Golden Spike Mustangs, Park City, Junior Grizzlies
- Competitive Travel – 14U/16U – SL Lightning
Financial estimates to play travel hockey in Utah?
- Tier 1 – up to $7000 for player dues, plus travel expenses (total up to $20k per season)
- Tier 2 – up to $5000 for player dues, plus travel expenses (total up to $10k per season)
- Competitive Travel – up to $2500 for player dues, plus travel expenses (total up to $5k per season)
* These are only estimates, but will give you a general idea of the financial committment
What is the difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2 Travel Hockey
Tiers are designated by USA hockey and they represent levels of hockey for state, regional and national competition. Tier 1 is the highest level and USA hockey offers National Championships at U14(Bantam), U16(Midget Minor) and U18(Midget Major) levels.
Within each organization teams are separated by letters. The top teams are usually AAA, followed by AA, A, B, C, and House at each respective age group. Despite the different terms a AAA team in one organization may not be any better than a A team in another organization.
How Do I Get Noticed?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions in hockey. There is no simple answer. You must come to the realization that there are several alternatives and routes a hockey player can take in achieving his/her goal. The informed athlete has a better chance than the misinformed or uninformed one. Consider that there are well over 6,000 Midget, Junior and High school teams in North America. Scouts and recruiters cannot possibly cover all the teams and leagues. There are certain parts of the country where colleges and Juniors find their players. If you are not in a geographic “hockey hotbed” your chances of exposure diminish. NCAA Hockey Players Demographics (US Hockey Hotbed) – 1) Minnesota, 2) Michigan, 3) Mass, 4) NY, 5) Illinois, 9) Colorado, 28) Utah
States represented on Division 1 rosters: MA (25% of total players), MN (22%), MI
(12.4%), NY (12.1%), IL (5.8%), RI (4.9%), CT (4.8%), AK (4%), WI (3.1%), ND (2%), CO
(1.6%), MT, AZ and all others (2.3%)
What are the benefits of playing Travel hockey?
- Coaching – Typically most coaches have played the game at a competitive level
- For the Experience – Travel the country while playing advanced competition
- Friendship – Bonds that are established throughout the season
- Recruiting Exposure – To provide players with exposure to collegiate and professional scouts and recruiters
- Skill Development – lots of ice time with games and practices for skills and fundamentals
- Work Ethic
Some things to consider when selecting the right travel team:
- Plan – What are you looking for as a parent or player? What is the purpose of playing travel hockey? What do you hope to accomplish? Dream big, but also be realistic. When is enough, enough?
- Financial Commitment – How much are you willing to spend on your child’s dream? Will you have to incur any debt while your child plays travel hockey? Understand the long term financial commitment you are making? Over X number of years what is the total amount of money you will have to invest in travel hockey? What ROI do you anticipate and/or expect from playing?
- Last year’s team
- How competitive were they in league play?
- How many players were rostered?
- How many kids are returning?
- Coaching Staff
- This year’s team
- How many kids tried out?
- How many kids were selected?
- What was the selection criteria for players?
- Coaching Staff – experience, last years results, if turnover why?
- Academics – What impact will this have on my student’s education, keeping up with assignments and ultimately grades/GPA?
- High School Hockey Experience – If your child plays for a Tier 1 team in Utah they are NOT eligible to play high school hockey.
- College Scholarships
UNDERSTANDING THE HOCKEY LANDSCAPE
FOR JUNIOR, NCAA & PROFESSIONAL
PAID 2 PLAY
Professional – National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league, currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada.
College (NCAA) – NCAA Division 1 (20 schools) – This is the level where athletic scholarships are awarded.
PAY 2 PLAY
College (ACHA) – NCAA Division 2 & 3 (Club Teams – Pay to Play, No assistance or scholarships are offered) – Also referred to any conference calling itself division two or three, and referenced as the ACHA.
Junior Hockey – Junior A = USHL and all Tier II leagues, and many of the America’s tier III leagues, Junior B = Canada’s Tier III leagues.
Players receive a small monthly stipend and free equipment, will void a player’s NCAA eligibility.
- Tier II Junior (Canada CJHL leagues = AJHL, BCHL, CCHL, LHJQ, MJHL, MHL, NOJHL, OJHL, SIJHL, SJHL, USA League = NAHL)
Middle tier of junior hockey, highest level to play while maintaining NCAA eligibility. Pay to play leagues.
- Tier III Junior (Canada League = All Junior B, USA Leagues = WSHL (AAU), USAH (EHL, MJHL, MnJHL, NA3HL, USPHL)
Lowest level of junior hockey, NCAA eligible, pay to play leagues
Prep – Prep schools are private secondary schools, typically featuring ninth through 12th grades. Based largely in the New England states.
For the majority of athletes, there is not a scholarship to be had. Academic scholarship dollars far outweigh sports aid.
The American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) is a chartered non-profit corporation that is the national governing body of club or non-varsity college ice hockey in the United States. The organization provides structure, regulations, promotes the quality of play, sponsors National Awards and National Tournaments.
The ACHA currently has three men’s and two women’s divisions and includes approximately 450 teams from across the United States. Teams offer few athletic scholarships and typically receive far less university funding. http://www.achahockey.org/
College / University Hockey Clubs in Utah
BYU, Salt Lake Community, University of Utah, Utah State University, Utah Valley University, Weber State University
Hockey For Life
For those of you who continue to pursue the Junior, College or the NHL dream please think about the following:
- Think about why you play? Is it to enjoy the game or achieve something or both? What is the motivation behind your child playing hockey?
- Plan B – What is our backup plan in case those dreams don’t become a reality?
- How will this impact the future of your player?
- Academics – Great grades never have a negative impact on anyone, so are we focused on academics? What if you focused on an Academic College Scholarship and played in the ACHA (College Club Teams: UofU, Utah State, BYU, Weber….etc.)?
- Financial Investment – How much debt will you incur along the way? What financial return are you looking for in order for this journey to be worth it? Is the end result a scholarship? If so, what are the odds of receiving a scholarship?
- At the end of this journey will your player still have a love for the game, and passion to be active throughout their life? There are many ways to enjoy the sport of hockey; coaching, playing adult league and volunteering.
- Bottom line……If you have a chance to play at a higher level, take it, but don’t expect it to be a ticket to the NHL. Focus on your backup plan, so you have something to fall back on.
American Hockey Parent Handbook – helpful information around hockey