COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program will join the United States Hockey League, the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league, beginning with the 2009-10 season. The announcement came today from the USHL and USA Hockey.
The NTDP is comprised of two teams – the U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 squads. Both will play in the USHL and count jointly as one team in the league standings.
The NTDP is in its final season as a member of the North American Hockey League, the nation’s only Tier II junior hockey league. The NTDP has competed in the NAHL since 1997-98.
“We’re extremely pleased to have the NTDP join the USHL,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. “It’s a positive step and something that will be mutually beneficial. The NAHL has been a wonderful home and we feel fortunate to have been part of that league for more than a decade.”
“The re-association of America’s only Tier I program with the national program in place in Ann Arbor will yield a powerhouse league second to none in the United States – and the strongest opportunity ever developed for the world’s elite 17, 18, 19 and 20-year-old hockey players to develop their skills on their way to college and professional distinction,” USHL Commissioner Skip Prince said.
The NTDP will play a full, 60-game schedule in the USHL as well as maintain its current commitment to international and college competition.
USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program has played against USHL competition over the course its existence, including a two-year stint (1998-2000) in which its U.S. National Under-18 Team played a full USHL schedule (see supporting graphic).
ABOUT USA HOCKEY'S NTDP: Launched in 1996, USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. The goal of this full-time development program is to prepare student-athletes under the age of 18 for participation on U.S. National Teams and success in their future hockey careers. It’s efforts focus not only on high-caliber participation on the ice, but creating well- rounded individuals off the ice.
In the 10 years that players have been eligible for the NHL Entry Draft, 152 have been selected, including three with the first overall pick (Rick DiPietro, 2000; Erik Johnson, 2006; Patrick Kane, 2007). Nearly 300 NTDP alumni have received NCAA Division I scholarships to date. For more information visit www.usahockey.com/usantdp.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)