If you're as confused as I was about the structure of Canadian Junior ice hockey then hopefully this information will help you out! Many thanks to Mike Vrooman, of Simcoe Storm, a Junior C team in Ontario, Canada for the following information.
Junior hockey in Canada is divided into five catergories: Major Junior A (Guelph Storm are this level), Teir II Junior A, Junior B (Teir II Junior A and Junior B are about the same standard), Junior
C (Simcoe Storm are this level) and Junior D (the Development League).
More information on Canadian Junior Hockey is provided by Stephanie Wilde, a Calgary Flames fan from Canada.
Junior players range in age from 15 to 20 years and play in divisions according to their ability with Major Junior A being the top. The NHL drafts their new players from the Junior A level and the Junior A teams draft from all divisions below them (a player becomes draft age at 16). Junior B clubs are allowed to sign 7 imports from outside their drawing area while Junior C clubs are allowed 4 imports. By his second year the player is no longer classed as an import.
Once players are over the Junior age and have not been drafted, they can try out for Senior teams, semi-pro (eg. Toledo Storm) or go overseas (eg. Manchester Storm).
The play here in the Western Junior League is very physical, but the kids come to play every night and win or lose they are the best $10-00 value in town. I believe that the level known as Tier II Junior 'A' in the West is the same as Junior 'B' in Ontario and Quebec - I know not why...our local Tier II team, the Canucks, is through to round 2 of the Provincial play-offs after finishing top of the Alberta Junior
Hockey League in the regular season. Incidentally, one of the teams in the League is the Grande Prairie Storm - also through the first round.
A player is not eligible for the NHL draft until he is 18 (and that is controversial because players are such a lottery at that age). There is a Midget and Bantam draft for the Major Junior teams for players of 15 and up, which will be taking place very shortly. The Tier II teams are considered amateur so their players are eligible for hockey scholarships to US universities. Some players prefer this route to the traditional Major Junior career.
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