The world of Hockey is already a relatively small world. Where it seems no matter where you are or who you are. Everyone knows everyone. Which has its perks. What I find most fascinating is most people players and parents do not fully understand what Junior hockey is or how it works. Which at the of the day is sad. Because Junior hockey is the beacon of college/professional hockey player development. Essentially just about every hockey players aspiring to play at the next level must play Junior hockey to advance. Whether it be to the college hockey or professional ranks. Junior hockey is a level setup to allow players to develop mentally and physically throughout the use of a lot of games (generally 50-60 regular season games) with daily on-ice practice. What most don't understand about college hockey both Division III and Division I. Is most freshman hockey players are 21 years old. This is a big difference as far mature, mental, and physical aspect go. In the United States we have three tiers of junior hockey available. I would like to focus on these three tiers. Tier I - In the United State we only have one tier one league. the USHL. This is consider the cream of the crop. This is a non-pay to play league. Everything is provided to the player. A large amount of these players will move on to play NCAA Division I or professional hockey with some moving into NCAA Division III levels. There are currently 16 USHL organizations. The USHL goes after the younger players focusing on 17-19 year old's. Tier II - In the United States we only have one tier two league. the NAHL. This is also a non-pay to play league. However, most teams have the players pay for housing billets. There are currently 24 teams in the NAHL. A large amount of these players will move on to the NCAA level, both at the Division III and Division I levels. Players will also find them selves on top ACHA college teams as well. The NAHL generally has players from 17-20 years old on their rosters. Tier III - In the United States we have several tier III leagues. Including but not limited too: NA3HL, WSHL, EHL, USPHL, etc. These are pay to play leagues ranging anywhere from $4,000 - $11,000 for a season. Recent poll's have shown a little more than 4% total of tier III players across all leagues in the United States will move on to play in the NCAA Division III. In general players will not move on from tier III to play NCAA division I. Having said that, it is possible for players in Tier III to advance into Tier II or even Tier I Junior hockey - thus advancing into higher levels of the NCAA. Players in tier III are generally in the ages of 17-20 years old. For all of these organizations open tryouts are held every year. Generally in late spring and early summer. They will then host a variety of invite only camps or 'Main' camp to make there final selections for the upcoming season. In general all Tier II and Tier I teams are only looking for 1-2 spots at open tryouts. As most of there team is scouted at exposure camps and combines. Specifically focusing Midget aged players. The best way to get noticed outside of your regular season is by participating in these junior showcases and exposure camps. Look specifically for what scouts will be in attendance at these camps. There are many opportunities throughout the off-season to participate in these showcase/exposure camps all over the country. If you are looking for detailed information in this regard please feel free to reach out to us on twitter @JRhockeyPodcast Before you tryout and/or participate in a showcase type setting. I strongly suggest you take the time to prepare yourself physically by actively training with a professional trainer and or training company. Focusing on specific needs of hockey players. Agility, explosiveness, balance, strength, etc. By doing this you will be giving yourself that much more of an edge on the competition. I can tell you from scouting experience that you need to perform not only at a high level - but bring something to the table that will catch scout's eye. Again, if you are looking for more information please feel free to contact us. I do hope the those who have ended up on this page are a little bit more informed on junior hockey and its many facets of process there are. Have a great day and as always please visit our website for all your Junior hockey news and podcasts!