As players grow and climb the youth hockey tree from Squirts, Peewees, Bantams, Midget/High School hockey what happens when you’re done with Midget or High School Hockey and no Division One or Three Teams have reached out to you? What do you do if no Tier One or Tier Two Teams reach out to you and offer you a Tender or a Contract but you still want to play competitive hockey.
Enter Tier Three Junior Hockey.
I want to make one thing perfectly clear, I understand some people believe Tier Three Junior Hockey is garbage and it’s just pay to play and the hockey is no good, I disagree. Let me explain.
Junior Hockey is a tough business and there are a lot of excellent players out there in the USHL, and the NAHL has elite players but some players need a little more time to develop and Tier Three Leagues like the USPHL, NA3HL, and EHL have proved time after time that players can move up to Tier Two or Tier One Leagues and even better yet, get a chance to play Division One or Three College Hockey.
Tier Three Hockey can be expensive depending where you play, but let’s look at it like this. Players have been paying to play hockey from Mites all the way up to Midget and High School. Here in Minnesota youth hockey prices are increasing and when you play two out of town tournaments and stay in hotels it can add up as the season moves along and that’s not including equipment cost etc.
The prices to play for Tier Three Teams in USPHL, NA3HL, and EHL vary and players come from all over the country to continue to play hockey at a high level. Let’s face it Junior Hockey Teams want to win and win every game if possible, but the Tier Three Teams want to win and move players along to higher levels because that builds a tremendous reputation over time and that is something no one can take away from these franchises.
In closing is Tier Three Junior Hockey a good step? In my opinion yes, just because you play Tier Three Hockey does not mean you’re not any good. Some players just want to play competitive hockey for a few more years and there is nothing wrong with at all. Some people act like they know hockey or just assume that if you’re not in the USHL or NAHL you’re not going to be playing college hockey is wrong. Hockey is a competitive sport and hard work, desire and dedication goes a long ways. My first hockey coach told me "you never know who is watching you practice or play games so always give it 100% because there may be someone out there willing to give you a chance to play", and that is all it takes to move up to Tier One, Tier Two or even have a chance to play College Hockey.
Joe B is a scout for both an USPHL and BCHL program. Hit it up on Twitter at Joe @Pincushion1_10H for conversations on Junior Hockey or Sprint Car action!