Addition of ECEL competition bolsters Tahoe Prep slate for ’19-20 season
Tahoe Prep Hockey Academy took yet another major step in its development as one of the premier prep programs in North America recently when the academy announced that it will be playing next season in the Tier I East Coast Elite League (ECEL) as well as in the NAHL Prep League.
The newest addition to the program’s schedule will give Tahoe Prep players exposure from Blaine, Minn., to Boston.
“We already have the practice development model down, and we know it works,” said Chris Collins, the assistant coach for Tahoe’s prep team. “This opens the program to a national scale and gives our players exposure from the Midwest to the East Coast.”
Collins said the competition in the NAHL Prep League – which Tahoe joined to start the 2018-19 season – was a mix of 18U and 16U Tier I teams. Joining the ECEL will bring games with strictly 18U Tier I teams and bigger, stronger, and faster competition.
“We wanted to toughen up the schedule for the program and extend the season,” Collins said. “This will emulate more of the experience of college sports and gives the players more substance and focus throughout the academic year.
“This year was a great learning year for the boys. They had success but also saw there’s a lot of work to be done to meet their goals. It also taught us as coaches that we would rather have more games than too few.”
Tahoe Prep will be the second team from California in the ECEL as they join the Ontario Jr. Reign.
“We are so delighted to expand into the West Coast market,” ECEL president Peter Alden said. “The Tahoe Prep Hockey Academy staff brings a high level of professionalism and their program is breaking the mold of a typical prep or youth program.”
Founded in 2013, the ECEL is a four-weekend showcase series that will provide maximum exposure for its member organizations and their players by playing in top venues in ideal scouting locations. Spread across the 15U, 16U and 18U divisions and represented by several of the top hockey organizations across the country, the ECEL “is the premier showcase series in the United States, unmatched in its format and exposure opportunities,” according to the ECEL website.
The ECEL has rapidly expanded within the last two years, adding 15 teams in that time period. Its 18U division has teams in New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, California, Colorado and a number of other states. It has quickly become a prime landing spot for players to get both the top competition and the most exposure to college and junior hockey coaches and scouts.
“Our growth has been amazing to see, especially the last two years,” Alden said. “Our members and I are very excited to work with great operators and feel the level of competition is excellent.
“The ECEL allows us to take our expertise running tournaments and showcases and apply it in a league setting. Having successfully run dozens of elite tournaments and showcases, we understand how best to provide a structure that offers quality competition and prime exposure for our member organizations and their players.”
Tahoe Prep also announced this month the addition of their first international player with the signing of goalie Gian Burer from Switzerland. He is joining the program after an impressive season playing for the Rapperswil U20 in the Swiss Elite Junior League. Burer maintained a 1.77 GAA for the season with six shutouts and earned his league’s Most Valuable Player honors.
“We are honored that Burer chose Tahoe as his path to pursue his dream to play NCAA hockey,” said Leo Fenn, Tahoe Prep’s president and head coach of the varsity team.
— Greg Ball
(April 25, 2019)