Hockey Academy Growth in US

Discussion in 'All other USA Amateur, USHL, NAHL, USNTDP etc.' started by sigx15, May 1, 2020.

  1. sigx15 Registered User

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    The hockey academy movement in the US seems to no longer be ignored. What was once a unique idea with Shattuck then embraced by South Kent has started to explode. With Mount Saint Charles bringing in the South Kent coaches to launch their hockey academy with the backing of Brian Boucher & Bryan Berard, they exploded in year 1 to field top 10 teams in the country with their U18, U16 & U15 teams. Now it seems like a new hockey academy is being announced all the time.

    Thoughts on this movement and where it'll go from here?

    Below is a list of hockey academies I'm aware of in this model. There are obviously a lot in Canada but it's exploding in the US right now especially in the Northeast. I've probably missed some academies so feel free to list some in the responses.

    The movement I'm talking about are USA Hockey eligible programs so I'm leaving out the Northeast prep schools like Salisbury, Avon, Kimball Union, St Sebs, Dexter, etc. 6 players on the U17 NTDP this year are coming from hockey academies including Shattuck, MSC, Gentry & Penguins.

    Current Hockey Academies
    Shattuck St. Mary's, MN
    South Kent Selects, CT
    Mount Saint Charles, RI
    Gentry Academy, MN
    Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, PA (Excel Hockey Academy/North Catholic Partnership)
    Cylclones Hockey Academy, NH (Online Schooling)
    Seacoast Performance Academy, NH (Online Schooling)
    South Florida Hockey Academy, FL (St. Andrews Partnership)
    Tahoe Prep Academy, CA
    Nichols School, NY
    Culver Academy, IN

    New 2020 Hockey Academies
    - Maine Nordiques, ME (Saint Dominique's School partnership) (Run by former owner of ISS Kings)
    - Bishop Kearney Selects, NY (Run by Chris Collins of ROCO selects, former BC hobey baker finalist & Ryan Callahan)
    - Boston Hockey Academy, MA (Matignon Partnership) (Run by Scott Fitzgerald, brother of Tom GM of NJ Devils)
    - North Shore Hockey Academy (Online Schooling)
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2020
  2. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    It’s good for the game and it’s horrible for the game.

    It’s good for the game because players are now getting access to more and more ice time and higher levels of coaching, which will inevitably result in a higher quality of on-ice product.

    It’s horrible for the game because it takes away from high schools and town hockey, groups that are already struggling, and other affordable options for parents. In the near future, if the kid has potential and the skill to succeed as a hockey player, the only way the can fulfill it is by the parents dropping five figures in fees every year starting in their early teens. People complain that hockey is inaccessible and the wealthy have an unfair advantage, this will not help at all.
     
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  3. BOS358 Registered User

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    Here are a few of my disjointed thoughts on the topic. Keep in mind my own bias, as I work for a split-season midget team filled with NEPSAC kids:

    I'm not sure that Pittsburgh Penguins Elite belongs in this category, since they are a club and the players go to a traditional high school and have a typical school day. To me, that sounds more like Compuware, Honeybaked, TI, etc., than the "academy" model setup like some of the other ones you listed.

    Also, you can add CT Elite (aka East Haven Yellow Jackets), Delaware Prep, and Northwood School (Lake Placid, NY) to the list.

    I know from talking to a former Selects Academy coach (now at MSC) that the school was looking to boost enrollment and I'd heard secondhand that MSC and Matignon welcomed the setup for the same reason.

    Some that were listed (Culver, Nichols, South Kent, Northwood, even Shattuck) basically just eliminated hockey as a "varsity" sport and instead became USA Hockey compliant.

    As for the future of the model, I'm not sure when, but it will certainly hit its peak and growth will slow. The underperforming ones will fade into irrelevance or die out. This may have happened already, as BHA/ Matignon is rumored to be having problems recruiting and were turned down by the Northeast Pack midget league (they do get to play in the Beast "Showcase" division, however.) The leaner areas (Southeast, Pacific, etc.) will see a few pop up, but their on-ice success depends on luring players away from the established clubs (Tahoe Prep looks to have a hard time of that). If the rumors about BHA/ Matignon, are true, it looks like this will thin out in the hockey-heavy areas (Mass, New England, and Minnesota).
     
  4. JiggsNY Registered User

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    Can someone explain the difference between Hockey academies like South Kent/ Shattuck and prep schools like Dexter/ Avon/ Kimball- they sound very similar to someone not as knowledgable on the subject.
     
  5. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    Hockey academy
    • National and more extensive travel.
    • Longer season, like a regular midget team. Usually September-March.
    • Play a mixed schedule of midget teams and other hockey academies.
    • Only need to play hockey, except for a select few like Shattuck and I'm fairly certain Culver still.
    • Typically aren't sponsored by the school itself, like Selects Academy at South Kent School and Boston Imperials Hockey Academy at Matignon High School. (edit: a few exclusions to this include Culver and Shattuck).
    New England Prep School
    • Exclusively located in mostly New England and a few New York locations, and travel is only in these regions.
    • Shorter, more intense season in line with Winter session sports like basketball, wrestling, and skiing. Tryouts after Thanksgiving through early March.
    • Scheduled against exclusively other schools in their leagues, with the two biggest being ISL and NEPSAC
    • Must play 2 other sports in the non-winter session, traditionally hockey players choose soccer in the Fall session and baseball in the Spring session.
    • Are school sponsored, like regular school athletics.
    There are a few other differences but these are the main ones. It is essentially a midget team using a private school's academic and athletic facilities versus traditional New England private school with a sponsored varsity hockey program.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2020
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  6. sigx15 Registered User

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    Sure, prep schools like Dexter/Avon/Kimball:
    - play a traditional winter schedule Thanksgiving through end of March against other prep schools in their league along with a few schools adding in non league games against teams like MSC, Shattuck, South Kent, St Andrews, Nichols, Northwood, etc in tournaments & preseason games.
    - There's typically a varsity, JV & sometimes a freshman team. Most teams play a 25-30 games schedule.
    - Cost for a prep school is usually anywhere from 20-40K for non boarders & 40-60K for a boarder.
    - Academics are usually pretty tough to match but still can vary. Schools like Philips Exeter, Andover, St. Paul's, Taft, & Berkshire have incredible academics where as schools like Cushing & Thayer are good to really good
    - Most players play on a split season Midget AAA team like Jr Eagles, Cape Cod Whalers, River Rats, Yale Bulldogs, ROCO Selects, etc. and play an additional 25-35 games and may practice or may not, most don't. These cost $2-4K typically
    - There's a lot of post grad players who go the prep route as well not just in hockey but in other sports like basketball, football, lacrosse, etc. Some may even do a 2nd Post year grad year. These usually are taking some college courses & more electives at the school

    Hockey Academies like MSC, South Kent, Shattuck, etc.
    - play a midget AAA schedule starting late August/early Sept against other Midget AA teams ending with the national tournament in April playing somewhere around 50-70 games due to a lot of showcase weekends where they may play 3-4 games in a weekend
    - Most will have some or all of U18, U16, U15 Only & U14 teams
    - Travel more extensively than prep teams playing in showcases, tournaments & league games typically done by a coach bus or by air if it's far enough
    - Intensive off ice training, on ice practices & skills training & even during the school day training, usually on the ice 6-7 days a week.
    - Some schools are online based like Seacoast Performance Academy where as others are based at a school like Shattuck, SKS, & MSC which may also have an online class component too
    - Instead of taking gym class, many schools will actually use practice as a school credit or 2
    - Their hours of school will be different & more malleable in missing school for games & travel. They may get out at 12-1pm for practice and will miss some days for travel
    - Similar costs to prep in that it can range usually around 25-30K for school & hockey for non boarders to 40-50K for school, hockey & boarding. Boarding may be in a dorm or with a billet depending on the school
    - Additionally, some of the better players will have the flexibility to play some weekends for the USHL team they were drafted by or even the NTDP. Next step is usually USHL, NAHL, Canadian Jr A, Major Junior or College.

    At the end of the day, it really comes down to a parent's & player's preference. They see it as they may develop more at a hockey academy with more ice time & training but there's still a ton of kids from prep who go D1

    Just as a comparison, Salisbury who won the NE Prep School title this year had 8 D1 commits on their roster, the most of any prep school in the Northeast where as Shattuck had 11 in their program and MSC had 9 in the program in their first year
     
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  7. JiggsNY Registered User

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    Those were two perfect answers. Thanks both of you. I’m interested how Bishop Kearney does recruiting. So the big three are very much SKS, MSC, and Shattuck correct?
     
  8. Barclay Donaldson Registered User

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    Mt. Saint Charles is off to a good start after their first season, but time will tell if tell if they are sustainably on the level of South Kent and Shattuck. I would say it’s a big two of SKS and Shattuck, with a handful of others right behind them like Culver and Northwood and Mount.
     
  9. sigx15 Registered User

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    I expect Bishop Kearney to have a very strong program in year 1. Chris Collins ran a really successful program in the ROCO selects and Doug Holewa from South Kent joining the staff will be huge. I'd expect there to be a lot of movement of South Kent players to Bishop Kearney with Doug's addition to the staff. They may not hit the MSC year 1 level but I think they'll be the strongest of all the new academy programs.
     
  10. CB1 Registered User

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    Just adding one. In Carolina they are adding the North Carolina Hockey Academy (through Accelerator Schools). The school will probably be a mixture of hockey and soccer students.
     
  11. tealhockey @overtheboards

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    Other people explained the jist of it but a big piece that I think can be glossed over -- because it is complicated -- is how different "hockey academies" can be. South Kent and Shattuck are prep schools, lots of boarding students who aren't there for hockey. They have hockey academy components, as in club AAA hockey that aren't traditional 'varsity' teams and Shattuck has that for other sports as well, like a soccer academy and so on for top club players. Matignon, Bishop Kearney and Mount St. Charlies are parochial/catholic day schools but Mount for example are building a dorm for the hockey team. As sigx said, other newer 'academies' are basically a rink and a room with online class. I think to call them all 'hockey academies' just because they play in the same league and have academic components is like putting together apples and oranges because they're both fruits. Technically correct but missing fundamental details.

    Also, comparing prep to hockey academy schedules is also a difficult comparison. The schedules are different, though they occasionally play each other, but hockey academies can have like four teams whereas prep school has varsity and JV which usually isn't too serious. Prep players play on split season fall teams before the season (and after if they make nationals) where they play against those hockey academy teams on basically prep all-star teams.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2020
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  12. sigx15 Registered User

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    Just a note, Mount completed their dorm & fitness center back in October this past year. Will be interesting to see where they go next. When they originally announced the program they said they’d build a new rink as well at some point in the near future.
     
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  13. canucklax Registered User

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    I found out about the interesting Breakaway Academy in Minnesota after Portland drafted Tanner Bruender who moved to Minnesota. Interesting concept of being a private middle school that actually doesn't compete, just offers a hockey-friendly daily schedule and extra practice time, wonder if this concept will be adopted elsewhere. A good read about it: There's a new hockey factory in Minnesota – and it's a middle school - TheHockeyNews
     
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