Every year we advise players who are focused on playing in specific Junior A leagues in the CJHL. Their reasoning is often because they want the best opportunity to advance from that league to the NCAA.
The numbers don’t lie. The BCHL and AJHL are the top two programs for NCAA advancement in Western Canada. The OJHL and CCHL, meanwhile, tend to be the most prominent leagues in Eastern Canada.
In some circumstances we encourage our players to stay focused on playing in a specific Junior A league. There is, however, many examples where we encourage our players to be open-minded to other Junior A leagues.
For example, if a B.C., native doesn’t have an offer out of the BCHL, we often encourage those players to look to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In addition, just because a team is in a better NCAA-advancement league, it doesn’t necessarily mean that organization is superior to all of the teams in other “so-called” lesser leagues.
We believe it is important to look beyond the league and judge an organization based on its own track record. In Manitoba, for example, organizations such as the Portage Terriers and Steinbach Pistons have better track records at moving players onto the NCAA than a notable number of teams farther West.
In the SJHL, meanwhile, the Nipawin Hawks have a proven track record of moving goaltenders onto NCAA Div. 1. Preceding current starter Declan Hobbs, who signed with a WHL team, goaltenders Kristian Stead (Alaska Anchorage) and Joe O’Brien (Niagara) received NCAA Div. 1 scholarships.