by Dan Adkisson
Junior hockey is sometimes called “amateur” hockey because the participating athletes aren’t paid professionals. However, junior hockey leagues aren’t always considered amateur.
Understanding the many lower levels can be hard, so we’ve explained them in this brief article. You should also know that Junior hockey is different from youth hockey. This information will help you understand NHL odds better.
What is North America’s Top Junior Hockey League?
The USHL is ranked first among junior hockey leagues that send the most players to NCAA Division 1. The BCHL and AJHL, Canada’s two junior leagues, and the NAHL, the U.S only governed Tier 2 league, are all directly behind it.
Junior hockey tournaments are like training leagues that prepare players for the greater heights of their hockey careers. Every league isn’t the same; some of them are far superior to others. Take advantage of any opportunity for your player to participate in a junior hockey league.
If a junior hockey club has approached your child, the first step in determining the league’s authenticity is to search for progress. Didn’t know about the league before? That’s no problem. For those who are unfamiliar with the SIJHL, you may have never heard of it, but it’s an excellent league.
The junior hockey leagues that always send their former athletes to the CHL, NCAA, CIS, ECHL, and above are considered high quality. Moving these talents to leagues higher than their skill level is always a great idea.
Which Leagues Produce the Most NCAA Division 1 Players?
The four above mentioned are the top junior leagues for hockey in the North American region.
What is Considered Junior Hockey in the U.S and Canada?
Junior hockey is a little bit better than minor hockey in Canada. In the United States, junior hockey is a level of hockey between youth hockey and high school hockey.
Junior Hockey Levels Explained
We have detailed them below to help you understand each hockey league level properly:
The Major Junior – comprises the Ontario, Western, and Quebec Hockey leagues form the CHL.
Tier 1: The Canadian Junior (A) leagues are theoretically in this category, as is the USHL.
Tier 2: Though some leagues in the CJHL, Canadian Junior A, are designated Tier 2 levels, the NAHL is the leading Tier 2 league.
Tier 3 NA3HL, for example.
It’s challenging to rank junior leagues against one another; there are so many of them since the U.S and Canada govern their own. Though the American NCAA doesn’t accept CHL players as NCAA eligible, the CHL is known as Canada’s top junior league.
The USHL is the only top U.S Hockey governed junior league, so it’s a clear winner for its top junior league.
Let’s simplify understanding junior hockey leagues.
The first crucial point to remember about junior hockey in North America is that different regulating bodies exist. USA Hockey oversees leagues in the United States, and Hockey Canada operates similarly in Canada.
The top junior hockey leagues are usually in the USA or Canada junior hockey leagues. It isn’t to say that a league not governed by either is terrible. But, as a general rule, its level is judged by its equivalent governing body. At the top, USA Hockey and Hockey Canada run the best junior leagues.
It’s not necessarily the case that a junior hockey league is the best just because USA Hockey or Hockey Canada governs it. The North American Tier 3 league, which USA Hockey sanctions, is at the lowest end of the junior league talent spectrum.