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Are there "in between" leagues for the pro-bound dreamers out there?

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Old
01-18-2011, 05:00 PM
  #1
rick98
 
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Are there "in between" leagues for the pro-bound dreamers out there?

Sorry if this is off topic or in the wrong category, it's my first time posting!

The basic question:

Are there any competitive amateur levels in North America for players over 21 and outside of college? Some kind of level that a player may develop his skills in hopes of doing well at a pro free agent camp in the future?

And what are the absolute worst pro levels in North America where someone may have a shot? how about in the World?

The more detailed question:

For example, a player doesn't make it past any free agent camps after graduating from college.

Do they have any options other than taking a season off to train and tear up the local adult league? What can the player do to stay in game shape and improve to have better chances the following Fall at a new set of free agent camps? Are there any options for competitive leagues to play in for people over 21 that are out of college, but that aren't good enough or lucky enough to land themselves on a pro team just yet?

My background story if you're curious why I'm asking this:

In my case, I played the highest levels growing up. I played at a couple prep schools, one was Shattuck St. Mary's. I even had french class with the one we talk about way too much and who's the captain of the Penguins now. I was right there and never took full advantage of it. Then I had a wrist injury senior year of high school. Doctors told me it was sprain but it never went away. Doctors could never figure it out. I became the small, fast goal scorer that didn't score a lot of goals any more… So, I ended up quitting more or less and went on to play four years of ACHA college hockey (which is nothing to brag about, but still competitive, none the less). I did pretty well offensively all four years, even with having a weak-ass wrist shot.

I then came into some money right after college and was able to actually find a surgeon willing to go into my wrist even though nothing showed on an MRI or X-ray. It turned out there was all of this old scar tissue wrapped around the tendons that connect my thumb to my wrist in my right hand, which made it so that things were getting pinched every time I roll my wrist over at the end of a shot, I guess? ... (That's about all I understood from the technical jargon my doctor was throwing out at me afterward).

Anyway, a few months later after some physical therapy it was like I was born again. For the first time in 4 or 5 years I could roll my wrist over and take a real wrist shot.

I've hired a personal trainer and have been playing adult league, playing pick-up, and screwing around outside at the rink every chance I get. My shot is now better than it ever was when I was high school. My quickness and speed are slowly coming back as I get in better shape.

The truth is I've done really well financially straight out of college and work from my home with no real obligations in life. I'm 24 years old and I have a crap-top of free time on my hands to sit around and know that I gave up my life long dream. That's why I've been doing nothing but playing the game that I've always loved, but grew to hate in college.

My dream growing up was always been able to play some level of professional hockey… for someone to actually pay me to play on their team, even if it was for practically nothing. The fact that I gave up before is hard to live with and I even feel ashamed because of all the people that helped me along growing up and all the money spent. I'm not delusional, but I would really do anything for a second chance. I'm not expecting much, but at least I can know that I tried and then move on.

So, I'm just trying to figure out what my options are, if there are any. I realize just showing up at some pro free agent camp might be a bit of a stretch having not played in any actual games in so long. That's why I'm wondering if there is any kind of "in between" leagues? or what the lowest possible levels might be to go for?

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01-18-2011, 06:33 PM
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LadyStanley
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Your best bet may be to find an adult/senior league at a facility where the NHLers work out (where you might get asked to participate in pick up game with former/unsigned NHLers), and/or sign up for (ECHL, et al) camp tryouts in the summer.

(This forum is for minor pro leagues, not amateur.)

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01-18-2011, 07:25 PM
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desert dawg
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For What it is Worth..

Couple of thoughts, not that I am any expert-not sure where you live, but I would look into Great Lakes Hockey League (google it)- as I understand it is a pretty good league for guys out of college-teams are mostly in Wisconsin, a few in Northern Ill as well-
Also could look into Federal League- my kid had a former teammate who was pretty good who played Eastern Junior League, and ended up on one of the teams in Federal before he made the mistake of going to the AAHL-
Also nothing wrong with ACHA- in fact a kid a couple of years ago someone from Oakland (Michigan) named Will McMahon (I think) made the jump to ECHL for a few games at end of year- I believe he might be associated with the team now as a coach in some capacity- perhaps find the Oakland website and see if you can connect with him for some advice-
Best of luck!!

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01-18-2011, 08:56 PM
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Re: For what it's worth...

Quote:
Originally Posted by desert dawg View Post
Also could look into Federal League- my kid had a former teammate who was pretty good who played Eastern Junior League, and ended up on one of the teams in Federal before he made the mistake of going to the AAHL-
Thanks for the tips. Out of curiosity, what do you mean by making a mistake by going to the AAHL? What happened with that?

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01-18-2011, 09:53 PM
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AAHL kinda fizzled out (seems like 75% of the teams failed in-season).

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01-19-2011, 07:34 AM
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Hi rick98, welcome to the forum!

First where are you located? Are you looking to move? Like mentioned above, the Great Lakes league is a great way to stay in shape and play competitive hockey. Stay away from the AAHL. The FHL is a better bet for "pro" playing and features ACHA players on its rosters. Although some teams are struggling with low attendance.

If you are in the Utah area, check out this team; Park City Pioneers

Best option is too play as much senior hockey you can this year and train. Next season their are rumours of two new leagues, well one starts this summer; Global United Hockey. The Northern Professional Hockey League is supposed to start next season so they will have free agent camps and the FHL will be having free agent camps this summer as well. Just follow the league websites for updates.

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01-19-2011, 03:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billycanuck View Post
Hi rick98, welcome to the forum!

First where are you located? Are you looking to move? Like mentioned above, the Great Lakes league is a great way to stay in shape and play competitive hockey. Stay away from the AAHL. The FHL is a better bet for "pro" playing and features ACHA players on its rosters. Although some teams are struggling with low attendance.

If you are in the Utah area, check out this team; Park City Pioneers

Best option is too play as much senior hockey you can this year and train. Next season their are rumours of two new leagues, well one starts this summer; Global United Hockey. The Northern Professional Hockey League is supposed to start next season so they will have free agent camps and the FHL will be having free agent camps this summer as well. Just follow the league websites for updates.
Thank you for all of the really helpful info. I actually live in Alaska, so if I re-located for hockey or even if I was going to tour around a bunch of tryouts, the northwest would be more ideal to travel to than the east.

I'm also kind of curious about that new league you've mentioned. I saw before you started a thread on that Northern Professional Hockey League. Looks interesting. I think I'll continue the convo over there.


Last edited by rick98: 01-19-2011 at 03:46 PM.
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01-19-2011, 04:55 PM
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I play in the GLHL, having played a bit of D-III hockey and it's pretty solid hockey. There are a lot of guys that put up big numbers in D-III hockey with a few here and there who played for major D-I programs and minor pro (IHL, CHL, SPHL). Being near Chicago, my team struggles to put fans in the seats sometimes but when you go to places like Fond du Lac, Eagle River, and even West Bend they pack their barns pretty good.

As far as some of the other leagues mentioned are concerned, I'd say the level of play is probably a bit of a step up from the AAHL but I don't know how it would compare to the Federal League.

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01-19-2011, 05:28 PM
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rick98
 
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@TopCheddar

It's pretty cool to find out such a league exists. Do teams in your league generally have tryouts at the start of the season or how do they get their players? And do many people re-locate to play or is it a lot of local players? I realize it's amateur, but do teams generally provide any help in finding places to live for players that come in from other places? Is the whole thing pretty legitimate? Many practices during the week? Things like that?

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01-19-2011, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick98 View Post
@TopCheddar

It's pretty cool to find out such a league exists. Do teams in your league generally have tryouts at the start of the season or how do they get their players? And do many people re-locate to play or is it a lot of local players? I realize it's amateur, but do teams generally provide any help in finding places to live for players that come in from other places? Is the whole thing pretty legitimate? Many practices during the week? Things like that?
I can't speak for the league as a whole but most teams have tryouts at the beginning of the year. We've added a couple of guys since who contacted our owner and had a try out at practice. The one real difference from a pro league aside from the obvious lack of a paycheck is that we only practice once a week.

Teams like fond du Lac will reimburse travel expenses but I'm not sure about helping players find a place to live. The Madison Blues actually have a player from Alaska-Fairbanks but I'm pretty sure he was originally from Wisconsin.

The league has a website but you'd probably learn more about what the league's all about by looking up GLHL on facebook.

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