What is Junior Hockey?

The goals of junior hockey are to promote, develop and administer the domestic USA Hockey program for junior-aged players, teams and leagues.

USA Hockey's Junior Program is available to athletes who are 20 & under as of the 31st day of December of the current season of competition.

The program is available to high school students and graduates who seek a greater or different challenge than that which might be available through their prep school team, high school varsity or club team or area 18 & under teams. The principal purpose of this development program is to prepare the athlete for career advancement either in a collegiate program or a professional opportunity.

Junior hockey leagues/teams are certified, annually, by the Junior Council, in the following classifications: Tier I; Tier II Junior A; Tier III - Junior A, B, C and D; and provisional for any of the foregoing classifications.

The North American Hockey League is the only Tier II Junior A League in the country, and teams provide a competitive opportunity for the elite player in a non-pay-to-play environment.

The purpose of Junior hockey is essentially two-fold:

  1. Opportunity - To provide an opportunity for players in this age group to play organized hockey.
  2. Development - To improve and develop the skills and abilities of all the participants, including the players, coaches and officials.

The goals of Junior hockey as a program of USA Hockey are as follows:

  1. Skill Development - To provide talented young players with the opportunity to develop in an organized, structured, competitive and supervised environment.
  2. Quality Coaching - To provide considerable training time, quality coaching instruction and concerned oversight.
  3. Social Maturity - To provide players with a healthy, constructive environment in which to develop socially.
  4. Educational Advancement - To provide assistance and opportunities for the accomplishment of the participant's educational goals.
  5. Recruiting Exposure - To provide players with exposure to collegiate and professional scouts and recruiters.
  6. Advanced Competition - To provide players with exposure to national and international competition.
  7. Protection of Amateur Status - To protect, most importantly, the amateur status of all participants under the rules and guidelines established by the International Ice Hockey Federation, USA Hockey, Hockey Canada, the NCAA, the NAIA and the National Federation of High Schools.
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