By Brent Mutis
There are close to 2,000 Canadian Junior Hockey League alumni pursuing their academic and hockey careers at colleges and universities across North America.
The number breakdown has 578 in NCAA Division I (37%), 594 in NCAA Division III (27%) and another 780 in Canadian universities and colleges (61%).
“There is no denying how successful the CJHL and its 10 Junior A leagues have been at paving the way to college hockey careers in Canada and the U.S.,” said CJHL president Kirk Lamb.
“Junior A’s role is to provide premier development and maximum exposure so that our student-athletes can further their hockey and academic careers. Clearly we are doing that.”
Torrie Dyck, a former standout in the SJHL with the Nipawin Hawks, has since gone on to play in both the CIS (University of Alberta) and ACAC (Augustana).
“Playing three years of Junior A allowed me to take the next step to the ACAC, and subsequently to the CIS”, said Dyck, a star with the University of Alberta Golden Bears. “I still reflect on my time in the CJHL and realize that those were some of the best years of my life,”
Dyck is the top points-per-game producer, with 18 in 14 games, of the No. 1 ranked team in the CIS.
South of the border, a total of 578 CJHL alumni can be found on NCAA Division I rosters.
“The CJHL has perennially been loaded with blue-chip NCAA prospects,” said Mark Dennehy, head coach of Merrimack College Warriors, of Hockey East. “The coaches understand how to develop these players and are very knowledgeable about the recruiting process.”
Devin Shore, who played for the Whitby Fury (OJHL), was the highest drafted CJHL player in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Shore committed to the NCAA’s University of Maine Black Bears of Hockey East.
“Deciding to play college hockey is the best decision I’ve ever made,” sad Shore.
“Practices are like games, and games are like playoff games. The opportunity to represent your school and play in front of such passionate fans is awesome. It’s a great place to get better and have a ton of fun doing it.”
Penticton Vees’ (BCHL) alumnus Joey Laleggia is thriving in the NCAA with the WCHA’s University of Denver Pioneers.
“College hockey was a smart choice for me because it gives me a couple more years to develop. It’s an awesome lifestyle. It really makes you take charge of your life. You have to balance being the best hockey player you can be along with studies.”
Newmarket Hurricanes’ (OJHL) alumnus Dan Ellis, of the Anaheim Ducks, is grateful for his CJHL experience. “Playing in Newmarket gave me the opportunity to compete at one of the highest junior hockey levels. The CJHL not only provided me exposure to NCAA, CHL and NHL, but prepared me to play at those levels.”
Added Lamb: “One look at the number of former CJHL players we have competing at colleges and universities in North America and it’s clear that the Junior A model is working for our student-athletes and their families.”
The Vernon Vipers have five players committed to NCAA scholarships for next year and the year after: F Adam Tambellini, North Dakota Fighting Sioux; D Brett Corkey, Colgate Raiders; Aaron Hadley, Western Michigan Broncos; F Dexter Dancs, Michigan Wolverines; D Geoff Crisfield, North Dakota.
The latest BCHLers signing offers include F Seb Lloyd of the West Kelowna Warriors (Harvard Crimson Tide), F David Pope of the Warriors (Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks) and F Garrett McMullen of the Trail Smoke Eaters (RIT Tigers).