Alec Regula, an elite prospect who has emerged out of Michigan High School hockey, is one of the hottest names in youth hockey right now. We have been on him for the past year and had him ranked as a four star prospect since our site launched in April, despite getting some weird looks from scouts in the hockey community. Last week, the diamond in the rough prospect committed to college hockey powerhouse University of Michigan.
His career began in West Bloomfield, MI where his parents would take him to Sunday morning learn to skate from the age of 3. For him the ice was a cherished place from the start and he later joined the youth team in town. It wasn’t until he was 10 years old that he began playing at the AAA level. He played bantams with Honeybaked and later switched to Compuware.
As a freshman at Cranbrook HS, Regula made the decision to leave the more popular path of AAA midget hockey and instead play for his local high school team. In an era where youth hockey is about more and more games, travel, exposure and competition; the move to Michigan high school was not at all common.
“Playing high school hockey was a no brainier for me really,” admitted Regula.
“I wasn’t a top guy in AAA and playing against older kids would help me develop greatly. Plus, I was able to join my brother for the past two years, which has been a blessing and an experience I’ll never forget. I made some friendships that will last a lifetime and it aided my development in a huge way. I came out of high school a much better player.”
For Regula, it wasn’t about being noticed, it wasn’t about traveling to California or Boston to play the country’s best players. For him, it was about development. It was about practice and honing his craft day after day.
After the high school season concluded, Alec would play in the OHL Gold Cup with TPH, officially starting his coming out party as one of the nation’s best-kept secrets. He was selected in the fourth round by the Memorial Cup winning London Knights, despite informing their scouting staff that he had his heart set on college hockey.
“The OHL Draft happened so quickly. I hadn’t talked to a team all year then right before the draft I played in the OHL cup with TPH and played pretty well. After that tons of teams were calling seeing if I’d be interested in the OHL route. I told the teams I wanted to play college, but London really liked me and decided to take me early. It was a great feeling seeing my name called; I’ll never forget it.”
Soon after the OHL Draft he would be taken in the USHL Draft by the Chicago Steel in the second round of the Futures Draft. He wasn’t even watching the draft, but was instead on the ice for practice when his name was called. Nonetheless, he was happy to get drafted and wasn’t surprised when he found out who took him.
“Being drafted by Chicago was awesome. I was pretty confident that Chicago was going to take me because they definitely showed the most interest. The coaches, staff, and returning players are all great people. The organization is changing for the better everyday.”
Despite being drafted highly in both the OHL and USHL Drafts, two of the best developmental paths in North America, he was still largely unknown among the NCAA recruiters as not many eyes grace Michigan High School hockey. He had no offers or college visits leading up to his first USHL Camp. He went to the Chicago Steel camp in mid-summer and proved himself as a USHL-ready defenseman despite his age. College recruiters became hot on the scene and offered him immediately.
“My recruiting process was pretty short to be honest. After Chicago camp, teams were reaching out but I knew pretty quickly I wanted to go to Michigan.”
He didn’t make any rash decisions and had a handful of top tier schools interested in his services, but he decided to attend the National Development Camp in Buffalo, NY for a chance to make the Ivan Hlinka USA team. He wasn’t too thrilled with his performance, admitting that he felt it wasn’t his best; but his upside and ability were certainly on display and despite his hiccups we ranked him highly.
After the camp he knew he had a decision to make, whether he would pursue college or OHL. Soon after the camp he decided to make it official and committed to Michigan.
“The history alone at Michigan speaks for itself. There’s no place like it. I’ve always valued academics highly and I realize that there is life after hockey and to graduate from Michigan sets me up in a good spot for life after hockey.”
He made the Chicago Steel 30-man roster and aims to play this upcoming season and the next in the USHL before enrolling at Michigan as a true freshman. The kid who never stood out, who didn’t play 65+ games in the Michigan midget circuit, but instead played local high school hockey for the past two years got his opportunity and took full advantage. He brings a rare combination of size and skill to the blue line and has the ability to contribute in all three zones and on both special teams units. He’ll likely enroll in 2018 or 2019 and should help continue the strong tradition of NHL prospects on the Wolverine blue line.
He is being added to the 2019 Recruiting Class which propels Michigan into a top 20 recruiting class ranking for that year.