USA Hockey's junior program provides opportunities for players ages 16-to-20 to hone and enhance their skills and is an important part of the organization's overall efforts related to player development.
Currently, USA Hockey oversees four junior leagues, including the United States Hockey League (USHL), North American Hockey League (NAHL), Eastern Hockey League (EHL) and North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL). The USHL is the only Tier I junior hockey league in the United States while the NAHL is the only Tier II junior league in the U.S. Both the EHL and NA3HL are Tier III junior hockey leagues.
To put things in perspective, junior leagues and high schools have had a hand in producing 1,076 players into NCAA Division I hockey roster (67% of all players) for the 2018-19 season.
Both the USHL and NAHL saw the 2017-18 season set new standards. At the 2018 NHL Draft, a record 57 players with ties to the USHL were selected, including a record 45 players who skated in the USHL during the 2017-18 season. Meanwhile, the NAHL, which had nine players with ties to the league drafted, saw its 2017-18 campaign result in a record number of 331 players make NCAA commitments, 70% of those being Division I schools.
In terms of competition, the culmination of the season included crowning of championships at the Tier I, II and III levels. The Fargo Force captured the Clark Cup as the playoff champion of the USHL while the Shreveport Mudbugs earned the NAHL's Robertson Cup. Additionally, the Metro Jets won the inaugural Fraser Cup as playoff champions of the NA3HL.