I guess I beat Oilers Chick to this one, but I'm a long-time NCAA watcher, so I'll try.
College hockey is faster than Major Jr., but not as hard-hitting (for the most part). The players who go there, however, are players who perhaps value an education a bit more, or need time to fill out a bit more, or enjoy a little more disciplined system. A good NCAA game is actually faster than most NHL games (due to no red line, allowing for 100 foot passes at speed), and fairly clean, whereas many Major Junior games are pretty hard-hitting, dirty, and rougher. Maybe that better prepares players for the rigors of the NHL, maybe it's because they play twice as many games in a season (college plays around 40 total games, juniors around 80?), maybe it's because it's more like NHL hockey, in that you really don't have anything else to do except lift weights and get ready for the games. Oh, sure, some of the players have to finish a year of high school, but THAT'S not hard, even if you miss part of the year traveling. I guess Major Jr. seems like it is more of a NHL minor league than the NCAA, which is good, but different, hockey.
Just my opinion, of course.
Jiggs 10 great answer. I would like to add that the NHL is trying to move more towards an NCAA style game, so more players are choosing NCAA.
I think the NCAA should consider a few more games maybe as high as 50 games if at all possible.
The last OHL game I went to was so boring I left after the second period. Expansion has really diluted the level of play.
Do you feel that the college game prepares players as well as playing in the Major Jr leagues?
It seems more players are entering college, after being drafted, to play hockey then in the past. However, most players who find success at the college level, don't make an impact in the NHL.
I was just wanting to get the perspective of a fan who watches the college game.
Thanks in advance.
Jiggs actually said some of the things that I would've said.
But this is what I'll add:
1) The NCAA has made vast improvements just in the last 10-15 years alone in its development of players. One reason is the influx of former pros (some of whom played in the NHL) becoming members of the coaching staff or even become ADs (athletic directors). As these players have arrived, the programs IMO have been geared towards developing players the way those coaches themselves had to develop, not only at the collegiate level but also the pro level. Robb Stauber, who used to play for the LA Kings is now goaltending coach at Minnesota (his alma mater). It should come as no surprise that Minnesota's goalies are better trained and developed since his arrival. Also, technology plays a big part as well. The training facilities and the training equipment at many of the schools are far better than they used to be (or so I've been told).
2) I think it depends upon the player. There are players who "mentally" ready for the challenges of the pros than others. Players who leave college early tend to be ill-prepared for the challenges of the pros. These players IMO think that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and then when they get there they end up getting a huge doze of reality. Case & point - Rick DiPietro. DiPietro left BU after only one year. Sure he was named HE Rookie of the Year and led BU to a Beanpot Championship. But He couldn't lead them to HE's automatic bid for the FF that year (Maine won it in 2000), but more importantly, he didn't lead BU to a national title. In fact, BU was bounced in the East Regionals that year by (of all teams) SLU in that wild match that went to 4 OTs. DiPietro struggled to adjust to the pros. It took him three years to really flourish....and that was down in the AHL. This year he has started to establish him in the NHL. Now if you look at players such as SJ's Tom Preissing and Colorado's John-Michael Liles, both players graduated and made the transition to the NHL remarkably quickly and have thus far enjoyed tremendous success at the highest pro level. That's not to say that every player who leaves early fails every time or every player who graduates will be a raging NHL success from the get-go.
3) I hate to compare styles of the leagues because both are unique and I don't feel that I know enough about the Canadian Juniors league to give a valid opinion, so I won't. Players who go the college route, as Jiggs mentioned, do want an education as well as play hockey. There are cases where players will chose a school for its academics or because they want to play for a particular coach. Often times however, players chose schools because of it's status of it hockey program or in cases of lesser known schools, because they were wanted by them more than anyone else.
4) Players who DON'T care about a college education and just want to play hockey are likely not going to attend Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Cornell or Yale. None of these schools offer scholarships, their academic demands are greater than other D-I schools and the ECAC plays a shorter season. It's unlikely that the ECAC will not extend their hockey schedule for some of the reasons I've stated.
If Harvard, Cornell or Yale don't offer athletic scholarships, how can most of their players afford to go to school? Do they offer financial aid packages based on need and SAT scores etc?
Well sort of......it depends upon the school. Each school has its own way of offering financial assistance. Cornell, for example offers what is known as "need-blind" financial assistance. That is, an applicant is considered regardless of how necessary or not it is, whether they are athletes or not, etc.
If you want to read more on how the Ivies offer financial aid and what's involved, I'd suggest checking out this link: