After the successful launch of the Pandemic Hockey League this spring Neutral Zone has decided to expand it’s offering to the fall season for both boys and girls hockey in New England. “We have received so much interest from coaches, scouts, players and parents about doing something like the ‘PHL’ during the fall season,” said President Steve Wilk. “We spent the past month talking it over with college coaches, pro/junior scouts and the prep school coaches to figure out the best way forward.”
Similar to the PHL, players will submit a registration to the league and a panel of professional scouts and coaches will select the top 90 players to be split over 5 teams. The league will have practices on Saturday evenings in each region (CT, NH, MA) and 2 games on Sundays in a central location. Lunch in between games will be provided for by Neutral Zone.
“We modeled this after the Minnesota Elite League and the PHL,” said Brendan Collins, Director of Scouting. “We spoke with a lot of prep coaches to get their opinions on the current landscape in the northeast for fall hockey and while each coach had their own perspective, there were common themes and we tried to address each one with this league.”
The most common gripe among the coaches was age specific hockey where prospects are playing U14 or U15 or U16 against players their age or younger and then have to transition in November, once the prep season starts, to playing against older, stronger, faster competition. “A fifteen-year-old playing against fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds is playing a pace that is far slower than prep, against players weaker than the ones they’ll see in prep and are learning habits that they likely won’t get away in prep,” said Director of US Scouting Brian Murphy. “The other issues range from lack of quality practices, disparities in competition, inconsistent roster sizes and the cost, travel and schedule of midget hockey.”
This league is specifically designed to accommodate public, private and boarding schools, to accommodate multi-sport athletes and accommodate the NCAA/CHL caliber prospects looking to play in an organized, highly competitive environment. It also accommodates the NCAA/CHL/NHL/junior coaches who can see top prospects in the northeast in a central location on a day they don’t typically have games.
The league will run for nine weeks from early September to early November including 10 practices and 18 games. The league will also provide its players the NZ Combine which includes 1 hour of on-ice and 1 hour of off-ice testing. The cost for the league is $750 per player.
“Our main focus with this league is to provide top players with a great opportunity to develop their skills, gain exposure to college, junior and professional scouts and prepare for their upcoming season,” said Brian Murphy. “Players should be able to play a fall sport if they choose, have a normal academic schedule and not have to pay thousands of dollars, stay in hotels and play 5-6 games over the course of a weekend to prepare for their prep season. That model doesn’t benefit the well-being of the players academically, athletically or socially and so we are proud that we can provide another option.”
To register for the league please click here. Your name and information will be sent to Neutral Zone and a panel of scouts will vote on the top 90 players to be selected for the league. Neutral Zone scouts will take that list of 90 players and do a 5-team live draft to select even teams.