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Is Tier III the path to Tier II Ice Hockey?

What is the best path to Tier II or how can I get into Tier II? This is one of the most common questions asked when somebody contacts me. There is not one best answer. For every player there is a different path. Of course, the stats show you where most of the Tier II players come from. But, as mentioned before, it’s not the complete answer.

The numbers give you one clear answer: most Tier II players come from AAA and not Tier III teams. Every Tier III league has its own methodology on how to compute the numbers (usually in their favor) of how many players make it to the next level.

In the NAHL the majority of their players come from AAA teams, followed by Canada, NA3HL and USPHL. With the NA3HL eligible to participate in NAHL’s Roster expansion program, NAHL teams can add two additional players to their roster for their February play-off push. So there clearly is a path from NA3HL (Tier III) to NAHL (Tier II).

The NCDC (not USA Hockey sanctioned Tier II League) is in its first season. The players on their roster come mainly from their last year’s Premier teams (almost 100 = around 40 %). Taking this number would mean that Tier III (USPHL Premier) is the best path to Tier II. In my opinion these figures will change in the coming seasons. The NCDC has the USPHL Premier  and EHL, as its feeder leagues. Nevertheless, also in the NCDC a large part of their players come from AAA (13 %) and Canada (7 %).

For European players this can be confusing and they often end up in the wrong “place”.  Getting on a Tier II roster is very competitive and it is imperative to chose the right path, and team, based on each players background and skill level.

In a nutshell if, age wise, you can play AAA, it is a better route than playing Junior Tier III.

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