3 Priorities When Finding a U20 Junior Hockey Team for Next Season
As we venture toward February, we inch closer and closer to the looming offseason and the following 2020-21 season.
Finish this year strong, but it's time to start planning. If you blow the rest of this year off, there might not be anything to plan for in the future anyway.
I am writing this to goaltenders and players looking to advance to higher levels of Junior hockey this summer. This is to U16, U18, High School, and current Junior goalies looking to make a jump.
This post may come across as blunt or harsh...and I'm willing to risk that you won't read the whole thing. Want to talk more? Call / text me anytime at 720-206-4521. I'm around.
Anyway, here are 3 priorities you must begin thinking about if you want to set yourself up for success for next season.
Priority 1: Know what you want and be truthful & realistic.
What is your end-goal? What do you want out of hockey? There might be more options and paths to that goal than you think.
In reality, there are only 84 USHL and NAHL spots in the world, and 120 Major Junior spots. Of the top 3 Junior Leagues in the world, only 204 goalies are rostered at any one time...and that's across 4 birth years (2000-2004 for 2020-21 season).
Are you one of the best 204?
Depending on your goals and your current status, work ethic, and attitude, you may certainly become one of those 204. That's up for you to decide for yourself.
But be truthful with yourself. If you want to go for it and play big-time Juniors, you'll have to make sacrifices.
If you're lying to yourself, then those sacrifices may not be worth it.
I'm not here to crush goals and dreams. I'm here to help you make them happen! But let's be aware of the large mountain in front of us to climb!
Priority 2: Target the right teams & leagues that match Priority 1.
Whether you're one of the best 204 in the world or not is for you to decide. I want to see you make it happen!
Prove your believers right and your doubters wrong!
But from your honest assessment of yourself from Priority 1 above, think about the "most probable" outcome and target the teams that fit that mold.
You want to go into the offseason tryout period with 4-6 bullets in your chamber. Some might be a reach, some might be a good fit, some might be a settle. That's ok.
But if you want to make the Juniors and College dream happen, you can't just hope on making one tryout.
Stack the deck in your favor. It's all a probabilities game for you. The more opportunities you set up for yourself, the more likely you'll hit on one.
Now, that's all assuming you don't get Drafted or Tendered (protected, carded, affiliated, etc) by a team. Drafted and Tendered athletes have a higher probability of sticking with their team. Not a guarantee, but a higher probability.
So if you get drafted or tendered in the USHL or NAHL or another league, that is typically a good indicator that you have a high chance of playing there.
But for the vast majority of guys who don't get drafted or tendered, maximize your opportunities.
Shotgun approach, not sniper rifle. If you throw enough stuff at the wall, some of it is bound to stick.
Priority 3: Create & Execute the Plan.
Finally, know going into the offseason what your plan is. Have a vision. Have a gameplan for success.
What teams will you prioritize? What teams will you target and go after? Will you send emails to coaches with film? How are you going to get opportunities? Will you go to showcases? If so, which ones?
There's a lot to consider. But having a plan is important. Having a budget is important. You only have so many chances, you have to make the most of them.
Have contingency plans set up: "If this happens then I will..."
Talk things through with your parents. Make sure you're all on the same page about your goals and plans and the process. They may certainly need to be a part of it.
Write your plan down.
Once you lock in your plan, then you must execute.
A plan is only as good as its execution.
Lay out your process then make it happen.
Your path is up to you. Your life is within your hands. In the end, if you're one of the best 204 goalies, you'll have an opportunity to play at higher levels.
And if you're not, then there are plenty of other opportunities to buy yourself more time to get there eventually.
We encourage guys to think and plan ahead. We also have an opportunity for goalies looking to jump into Junior or move up levels at our Prospects Showcase.
As always, call, text, email anytime. I'm here. I'm around.