Have you found yourself wondering if the NCDC is a good league or not? Maybe you are considering a career in hockey and want to know if the NCDC will help with this or not?
Or are you curious and want to know more? Whatever the reason might be that brought you here today, we have the answer for you!
When it comes to hockey leagues, finding the right one, or at least a good one, can be incredibly tricky.
One quick search can take you down a rabbit hole, with lots of twists and turns that leave you confused, stressed, and let’s face it, in need of a lie down in a dark room.
But you can’t afford to lie down with your future career riding upon this decision. So what can you do?
Well, you can stick with us! Today we are here to tell you if the NCDC is a good league or not!
We will also walk you through everything you need to know about the NCDC to help you make the right decision today!
What Is The NCDC?
Before diving into today’s article, let’s have a quick recap for those needing it! The NCDC, or National Collegiate Development Conference, is a junior hockey league in the Northeastern United States.
The NCDC is made up of fourteen teams and is tuition-free, with the goal of developing players and providing them with a space to do so.
The NCDC is considered a Tier 2 league, but as it’s tuition-free, it isn’t recognized officially as a Tier 2 league by USA Hockey.
Instead, the NAHL (North American Hockey League) is the only Tier 2 tuition-free league recognized.
The NCDC was created as a higher-level junior league that is available to those in the Northeast of America within driving distance.
The goal was to keep these players in the region, as lots of players were leaving to join the USHL and NAHL.
The league helps support junior league players, giving them a space to play matches and develop their skills before heading off to play Hockey at college or higher leagues.
You can find out more about the NCDC on their website, and take a look at some of the top-performing players!
Now that we have briefly established what the NCDC is, let’s move on to why you came here today and find out if it is a good league or not!
Is The NCDC A Good League?
For some players, yes, the NCDC is a good league! It all depends on what the hockey player wants to gain from the league and their potential career as an ice hockey player!
Now, we know that this answer isn’t as straightforward as some of you would like, but stick with us, as we go into more detail about this now!
If you are a hockey player that wants to play hockey for a few more years before attending college and playing professionally, then the NCDC is a good league for you to join!
So if you have aged out of 16U hockey and aren’t ready for college yet, then a junior league, like the NCDC is a fine choice for you to make.
You will have the opportunity to continue playing hockey and perfect your skills, without the overwhelming worry of getting scouted, applying for college, and finding the perfect fit for you.
And if you aren’t sure hockey is the career for you, but don’t want to stop playing, then a junior league is the best of both worlds!
You can continue to play and it isn’t going to hurt any potential career you might want!
If the players we mentioned above sound like you, then the NCDC is a good league for you to explore! There are some other benefits too that we will walk you through now!
Benefits Of NCDC
So what are the benefits of the NCDC? Let’s take a quick look at them now!
This is perhaps the biggest benefit of the NCDC! Tuition to the league is free, making it far more accessible for those with lower-income backgrounds to play ice hockey in a competitive environment.
However, it is worth noting that players are expected to pay for room and board while they travel with their team.
They also need to pay a membership fee that allows them to be part of the UPSHL. This fee is 400 dollars, which needs to be paid by each player.
There is also a registration fee of 250 dollars that needs to be paid if the NCDC sends you to the Premier Division III league.
While these costs are far lower than other leagues, it is still worth being aware of before making your decision!
Access To Pre-Draft Or Main Camps
This access to camps, both pre-draft and main, provides players with the opportunity to develop their skills and meet other players.
They can be a fantastic way to make connections, and have fun too!
Plus, if you are looking to just have fun, you won’t have the added pressure of scouts at these camps, you can just enjoy playing hockey!
For those that will want to progress at some point, the camps are a fantastic experience and can give you a taste of what to expect as your career progresses!
These camps offer you the opportunity to get re-drafted for another year. Spaces are limited though, and you will find yourself competing with at least 30 other players for only 23 spots!
You Are Supplied With Equipment
This is a fantastic benefit for those that don’t have the budget for equipment! You will be supplied with everything you need to continue playing ice hockey as long as you are part of the NCDC!
That’s a pretty sweet deal, especially when you consider the fact that it is tuition-free too!
This makes it even easier for those with lower incomes and backgrounds to enjoy playing hockey, without having a financial burden placed on their families.
Are There Drawbacks To The NCDC?
Now we have covered the benefits of the NCDC and who it is suitable for, let’s flip the coin and look at the other side!
The NCDC is not currently sanctioned by USA Hockey and a lot of players find it challenging to get employment, compared to those coming from USA Hockey sanctioned leagues.
But why? Well, as the league isn’t sanctioned, some Division I teams don’t acknowledge the league as a legitimate one.
This means they don’t send scouts to attend the games and find potential future players, meaning players will often have to wait a while or start pursuing other leagues themselves to gain a scout’s attention to gain college scholarships or to progress to a higher division league!
This isn’t a viable option for some players, which means ruling the NCDC out in favor of other leagues that can offer them a smoother road to professional hockey playing!
Let’s take a look now at some of the NCDCs other drawbacks.
The Contract Is Restrictive
Players are required to sign a contract when they are drafted to the NCDC that states the players are the league’s property.
This means that the NCDC can make decisions for the players, including what team they play for, when they will play, and whether they can be selected to move up or not.
It’s worth noting that a lot of this is pretty standard in the industry.
However, if you get an offer to play for another league or want to leave the NCDC, things can get a little tricky, as your contract states you can only play for an NCDC team or an affiliate team.
To leave the NDCD, you need permission from the NCDC, which can be difficult to get if there is a conflict of interest.
There is also a fee of 5,500 dollars you might have to pay if the NCDC deems you leaving the league as a breach of your contract.
This isn’t good news when you consider a lot of players want to use this league as a stepping stone to higher divisions!
It’s Hard To Get Into Division I
Looking at the stats from the NCDC for the past few years, only a small percentage of players progress into Division I.
Let’s use the 2018-2019 season as an example. Out of 299 players on the NCDCs roster, only 40 of those players held Division I commitments.
The NAHL had 224 players holding Division I commitments in the same period.
It’s worth noting that the NCDC is a much newer league compared to the NAHL, which can impact the stats we are using.
We can expect to see higher numbers as the NCDC becomes more recognized in the ice hockey world. But for now, the numbers aren’t great.
It is sure to be off-putting to players that want to progress their career, especially as they need to join a Tier I team once aging out of the Junior League, or they risk no longer playing competitive hockey!
It’s worth strongly considering whether or not the risk is worth joining the NCDC!
As the league is not recognized or sanctioned, your chances of progressing to Division I are always going to be slimmer than with other leagues like the NAHL.
You Can Be Reassigned
After joining the NCDC, you are expected to compete for your position, proving yourself in all games and practice sessions.
Even if you perform well in all your games, you can still be sent to another team by the NCDC to prove yourself all over again!
This can be difficult for a lot of players and does put added pressure on you.
While you need to prove yourself no matter the league you play for, the uncertainty of being moved to another team can leave players feeling stressed and anxious.
And there you have it! The NCDC is a good league for those looking to continue playing competitive hockey, but it does have drawbacks that need to be strongly considered before you make your decision.
If you want to further your career and join Division I teams, then it is a tricky road ahead, but for those looking to have fun and play competitive hockey, it’s a good choice to make.