Paths to NCAA Show Need for Patience

Average commitment age for NCAA Division I players is over 18.

By Nate Ewell and Sean Hogan

The paths to NCAA Division I men’s hockey can be winding, with a veritable alphabet soup of NCAA-eligible junior leagues leading to the college ranks.

The vast majority of Division I players will play in one of those junior leagues – with the USHL, NAHL and BCHL producing the most players. To try to clarify those paths, College Hockey Inc. studied each of the 1,600-plus men’s Division I players and looked at not only their junior leagues, but where they played prior to junior hockey.

A few key findings stand out in the results of that study:

  • While paths vary widely, clear themes emerge when looking geographically at where players are raised.
  • Wherever players are from, patience is required, with very few players making the jump to junior hockey at age 16.
  • Most players will not commit to a Division I school until playing NCAA-eligible junior hockey after high school, exactly in line with the study we conducted last year.

“These facts are critically important for every player, parent and coach to understand,” said Kevin McLaughlin, USA Hockey’s Assistant Executive Director, Hockey Development. “Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Focus on your own development. You have your own, unique path.”

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