National Hockey League fans of a certain generation still love to wax poetic about the days of the original six. From 1942-67, the NHL was consistently composed of six teams – the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Perhaps someday, as the Prep Hockey Conference grows in stature and possibly even in size, fans of the new league will feel a similar romance about the original six who got it all started.
Six of the top hockey academies in North America – St. Andrew’s College of Aurora, Ont. and American schools Culver Academies (Culver, Indiana), Mount Saint Charles Academy (Woonsocket, Rhode Island), Northwood School (Lake Placid, New York), Shattuck-St. Mary’s School (Faribault, Minnesota), and South Kent School (Kent, Connecticut) are forming this new conference.
“This is a great first step toward something even bigger,” St. Andrew’s coach David Manning told YorkRegion.com.
The league is projected to begin play for the 2021-22 hockey season. The six teams will be grouped into two divisions. St. Andrew’s, Culver and Shattuck-St. Mary’s will be housed in one division, with South Kent, Northwood and Mount St. Charles in the other.
The two divisions will play an interlocking schedule of games that will work around existing schedules of all of the schools to ensure that they don’t miss out on participating in traditional tournament competitions and other showcase events.
League weekends will be held in each of the six locales to enable players to be showcased in front of pro scouts and college recruiters. A championship weekend is slated to be held in February of 2022 in Minnesota.
Though these six teams face each other virtually every season already, by locking into a league format, it guarantees the highest level of competition available to each school will be engaged in on a regular basis.
“The formation of the PHC has been something we’ve envisioned being a part of and are thrilled to be a founding member with these other outstanding programs,” Manning said. “We can’t wait for that first game next fall and the opportunity to compete and showcase our players in the best prep hockey league in North America.”
Certainly, these are among the true powerhouses when it comes to North American prep school hockey. Shattuck-St. Mary’s list among its alumni Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Toews and Zach Parise. Gary Suter, Ryan Suter and John-Michael Liles came through Culver’s program. Brian Lawton, Bryan Berard, Brian Boucher and Mathieu Schneider are Mount Saint Charles grads.
Mike Richter and Tony Granato played at Northwood. South Kent School alumni include Shayne Gostishehere. South Kent grads Alex Limoges, Keith Petruzzelli, Shane Pinto and Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup are all 2021 Hobey Baker Award nominees as the most outstanding player in NCAA hockey.
As for St. Andrews, among the prominent hockey-playing Saints are Alex Newhook, Greg Hotham, Michael Del Zotto and Warren Foegele. Seven members of the 2019-20 Saints team that went 40-6-2 earned NCAA Division I scholarships – Jack Bar (Harvard), Mark Hillier (Merrimack), Devlin O’Brien (Merrimack), Kienan Draper (Miami), Cole Galata (Bentley), Liam Cavan (Merrimack) and Frankie Carogioiello (Miami).
For years, these prep hockey super powers have played each other in exhibition games. Opting to compete in the same league, it’s great exposure for all the players, since such games are guaranteed to generate attendance from both NCAA recruiters and NHL scouts.
“We love playing these games,” Manning said. “These are the games our guys yearn to play. Attaching points and standings to it is nice.
“It will be great for our kids to be in those buildings.”
In the 13 years that Manning has coached the Saints, 46 players have moved on to NCAA programs, while another 11 were NHL draft choices.
St. Andrew’s is the oldest school among this sextet, with a history dating back into the late 1800s. Mount Saint Charles was inaugurated in the 1930s, with Culver and Northwood both launching their programs in the 1970s. South Kent got underway in the 1980s and Shattuck-St. Mary’s is the youngest of the bunch, launching their hockey program in the 1990s.
The goal of this ground breaking conference is to establish relationships within and beyond the hockey world that create a high degree of visibility and positive media exposure for the PHC, its programs and its players.
“It brings together like-minded institutions that are rich in history and tradition and share the pursuit of excellence on and off the ice,” Culver Academies head coach Kevin Patrick said of the PHC. “The opportunity to compete against these six programs will enhance player development and the overall student athlete experience.
“This league will be a great avenue for our current players to showcase their talents.”
More information regarding the PHC can be found on its website at www.thephchockey.com.