Prepping For Prep

Mar 26, 2021 | Craig Peterson

Girls hockey player holding stick looking across the ice.

Neutral Zone Unveils New Fall League

On Tuesday, Neutral Zone — widely known for its prospect analysis and player rankings — announced the launch of a new initiative; the Neutral Zone Fall Hockey League (NZFHL).

The announcement comes on the heels of its first ever Pandemic Hockey League (PHL), which was launched this winter in the wake of many New England prep and high school programs cancelling their 2020-21 seasons due to COVID-19 concerns. The unveiling of the NZFHL comes in an effort to continue providing a platform for players in the region.

“We have received so much interest from coaches, scouts, players and parents about doing something like the ‘PHL’ during the fall season,” said President Steve Wilk. “We spent the past month talking it over with college coaches, pro/junior scouts and the prep school coaches to figure out the best way forward.”

Similar to the PHL, players will submit a registration to the league and a panel of professional scouts and coaches will select the top 90 players to be split over 5 teams. The league will have practices on Saturday evenings in each region (CT, NH, MA) and 2 games on Sundays in a central location. Lunch in between games will be provided for by Neutral Zone.

Neutral Zone Director of US Scouting Brian Murphy believes that one major issue for 14U, 15U and 16U aged players have a difficult time adjusting to the speed of prep and varsity hockey. The implementation of the NZFHL sets out to acclimate those players to compete against older, faster, stronger competition.

“A fifteen-year-old playing against fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds is playing a pace that is far slower than prep, against players weaker than the ones they’ll see in prep and are learning habits that they likely won’t get away in prep,” said Murphy.

The NZFHL will run for nine weeks from September to November, including 10 practices and 18 games. There will be a boys’ and girls’ league, each with five teams per league and 18 players per team. Total cost for participating is listed at $750 per player.

“Our main focus with this league is to provide top players with a great opportunity to develop their skills, gain exposure to college, junior and professional scouts and prepare for their upcoming season,” said Murphy. 

Will you be competing in the NZFHL next fall? Text WHH at 603-541-7772 for the latest news, rankings, events and updates from the world of youth hockey!

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