The NCDC League
Ice hockey is loved by children and adults alike. If you or your child is interested in playing hockey in college or professionally one day, you’re probably wondering which steps to take. You may have seen something called NCDC while looking for answers.
In hockey, NCDC stands for “National Collegiate Development Conference.” It’s a hockey league in the Northeastern United States. It consists of thirteen teams, and its goal is to prepare players for college-level hockey. It’s tuition-free and isn’t part of the USA Hockey organization.
If you live in the Northeastern United States and are interested in joining a hockey league, consider joining the NCDC if you want to play professionally someday. Continue reading to learn more about this organization and how it can help you get to a professional level of ice hockey.
Junior ice hockey is competitive hockey for amateurs. Junior players are usually between the ages of 16 and 21 and almost always have a goal of playing college-level or professional hockey. Junior leagues are a great way to gain skills and prepare for playing with professional teams.
Many junior leagues are tuition-free, meaning that they’re a free to play league, but players will have to cover their own expenses when they travel for team events. Tuition-free leagues must rely on sponsorships, special events, and ticket sales to earn money to keep the teams running.
USA Hockey is the United States’ hockey organization for sanctioned hockey leagues. Hockey players, parents, and leaders can have a membership with USA Hockey to connect with local hockey teams and keep up with events and rules.
USA Hockey has four associated leagues: United States Hockey League (USHL), North American Hockey League (NAHL), Eastern Hockey League (EHL), and North American 3 Hockey League (3HL). The NCDC isn’t sanctioned by the USA Hockey organization.
Junior ice hockey has three tiers that represent different skill levels. Players who want to play in college or professionally will want to aim for Tier I. Here are the three tiers:
Tier I is for those who are quite skilled. Players in this tier have the potential to play in the NCAA Division I in college or the National Hockey League (NHL), which is the professional hockey league.
It’s a tuition-free league, so players must pay for all expenses, but they don’t have to pay to be part of their team. There are summer camps that players can attend so they can be picked for a team in the fall. Camps are usually a few hundred dollars, and it’s the primary way a tuition-free league makes its money.
The USHL is the only Tier I hockey league that’s sanctioned by USA Hockey. Almost every player in this tier will play for NCAA Division I or the NHL once they age out of the league. The USHL is for ages 16-20 and must have players older and younger than 18 at all times.
The NAHL and NCDC are both Tier II leagues. USA Hockey sanctions the NAHL, but does not sanction the NCDC. Both leagues are similar to the USHL in that they make their money by summer camps held to recruit players for the teams. Both leagues are tuition-free.
This tier is considered a lower level than the first tier. However, players can still advance to the NCAA Division I program if their skills are good enough.
Tier III is the lowest level in junior hockey. The 3HL is sanctioned by the USA Hockey organization, but there are several unsanctioned teams across the United States. This tier is pay-to-play and can cost as much as $12,000 to be on a team. The cost covers some of the equipment, gear, uniforms, and travel expenses.
Tier III junior hockey can get you into NCAA Divisions II and III in college. Since it’s so expensive to be on one of these teams, it’s wise to find a program that will allow the player to train enough to be accepted onto a college team.
The NCDC is part of the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) founded in 2012. The USPHL has many organizations and divisions within it, including High Performance for youth, 15U (15 and under), 16U, 18U, EHF, Elite, and Premier.
The NCDC is the highest tier in the USPHL. It can be described as the league for highly skilled players who are preparing to play in college or professionally.
The NCDC comprises 13 teams located in the Northeastern United States. The teams in this league include:
- Boston Advantage
- Boston Junior Bruins
- Connecticut Jr. Rangers
- Islanders Hockey Club
- Jersey Hitmen
- NH Junior Monarchs
- Philadelphia Hockey Club
- Northern Cyclones
- PAL Junior Islanders
- Rockets Hockey Club
- South Shore Kings
- Twin City Thunder
- Utica Jr. Comets
All teams are tuition-free and give the players opportunities to advance to the NCAA or NHL.
The NCDC was developed, so junior hockey teams in the Northeastern States could have a local league to go to if they wanted to progress further in hockey. Before the NCDC, there wasn’t a nearby league that could prepare players for the NCAA.
The NCDC is highly competitive. Players can get removed from their team if their performance degrades, and there’s someone to replace them. Players must play well to keep their spot on the team. If a player loses their spot, it’s possible for them to be moved to a lower-tier team.
The USPHL and NCDC highly recommend college hockey to their young players. If you or your child are considering college hockey, it’s highly recommended to try out for the NCDC.
While summer camps can be expensive, they can be well worth the price if you get chosen for a team in the NCDC league. It’s tuition-free, and you’ll have to pay for gear and travel yourself, but you won’t be locked into paying several thousands of dollars.
The USPHL recommends aiming for college-level hockey because:
Professional hockey opportunities: Playing hockey in college can get you into the NHL to play professionally.
Develop your skills: If you love hockey and want to be able to develop your skills, you’ll be able to do so in college-level hockey.
College education: While you play hockey, you can earn a college education. Whether you choose the route of professional hockey or something else, a college education will be able to help you get a career once you put down the skates.
Participate in events: The NCAA hosts several special events each year that players get to participate in.
Mingle with other students: You’ll be surrounded by fellow hockey-loving students who share common interests with you. It’s a great way to receive encouragement through your education and training.
Keep the tradition alive: College hockey dates back to the 1800s, and hockey itself dates back even further. Playing in college will help keep the tradition alive for many more years to come.
The National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) seeks out junior hockey players who strive for college-level or professional hockey. Skilled junior players can prove themselves on one of the 13 competitive teams in the NCDC league. Players who perform well in this league can get signed onto NCAA Division I teams or even a team in the NHL.
All 13 teams in the NCDC are tuition-free, so players don’t have to pay just to stay on the team. They will have to cover travel and equipment expenses on their own, however.
- My Hockey Rankings: Untangling the U.S. Junior Hockey Web
- USA Hockey: Home Page
- USA Hockey: USA Junior Hockey Leagues
- USPHL: NCDC
- USPHL: Why choose the NCAA route?
- Wikipedia: Junior ice hockey
- Wikipedia: United States Premier Hockey League
- National Hockey League: Home Page
- NCAA: Division 1