BOSTON, MA -- The world of junior hockey is ever-changing, and constantly evolving from season to season.
Through expansion between leagues and teams, the Eastern Hockey League has chosen to hold true to its roots and mission statement: advancing players to a higher level of play.
This year marks the fourth year for the Eastern Hockey League, since its formation prior to the 2013-14 season. Despite some team changes along the way, the EHL’s goal has been constant, remain the leader in Tier-III Direct-to-College advancement.
“Three years ago, 20 programs came together to form the EHL,” said Mark Kumpel. “I was hired to become its first Director of Hockey Operations. From Day 1, the owners and coaches have been, and still are committed to, being the top direct-to-college advancement junior league in the East. The owners invested in coaching staffs, infrastructure, and the EHL brand to create a nurturing hockey environment that has directly led to over 500 players moving on to schools and successful careers both on and off the ice. The EHL has already started its 2017-18 season planning by hiring Mike Santos as the league’s new Executive Director. His experience in hockey management ranges from NHL organizations to U.S. junior hockey leagues, and this all helps to ensure we keep building the best junior hockey entity in the East.”
Mike Santos comes to the EHL with over 28 years of experience in the hockey industry. He was born in Boston, and grew up just over a half hour north of the city. He spent his undergrad years at Boston College, received his Master’s Degree from the United States Sports Academy, and earned his Juris Doctorate from St.
John’s University School of Law. He also currently serves on USA Hockey’s Junior and Legal Councils.
“I am very excited to be joining the EHL,” said Santos. “There’s a lot to like about the league and the collective commitment to developing players for bigger and better things. It’s my plan to accentuate all that’s great about the league.”
With Santos now at the helm, the EHL owners feel a stronger sense of stability as the junior hockey landscape begins to change in 2017.
When it comes to the EHL and its success, the reasons start with a pair of key league principles.
EHL Operating Standards
The EHL’s Operating Rules contain language that ensures a professional player environment across the board. Required fines can be issued to teams that don’t comply with these standards, and many of the regulations relate directly to the on-ice and off-ice player environment.
Examples include, but are not limited to, the amount of practice time, outerwear provided, training facility, etc.
EHL Performance Criteria
The EHL has created and enforces a mandatory number of direct-to-college advancements, plus a number of returning players, each year.
The Performance Criteria reinforces the league’s primary mission of college advancement, and fines are levied on teams that cannot meet these criteria.
This is a self-governing tool the EHL owners have put in place to ensure its teams are always recruiting and working toward creating NCAA student-athletes.
These two league principles serve as the backbone of the EHL, and they have been proven to be effective through an increased number of NCAA commitments every season.
“I have been a member of the USA Hockey Board of Governors for 25 years,” added Kumpel. “For 23 of them, I have served on the USA Junior Council. I have seen leagues and teams
come and go throughout my time, and it’s clear that the programs that have had the most success have standards that are relevant to its player environments. The EHL measures a program’s success by our players’ successes. Our Performance Criteria is a unique blend of college placements, the USA Hockey Ladder of Development, and returning players, by supplying a great environment on and off the ice,” Kumpel added.
With well-known change on the horizon, Santos joins the EHL with a background that cannot be overlooked. His experience throughout junior hockey as well as the professional level will help to steer the ship as the EHL gets set for its own unique expansion for the 2017-18 season.
“My time spent organizing and growing the North American Hockey League will only help me as the EHL grows its brand within USA Hockey,” added Santos.
The Eastern Hockey League and its owners feel strongly about the status of their league. Led by Santos and Kumpel, the EHL will continue to develop inside the glass, as well as off the ice. The league as a whole has improved its relationship with higher levels of junior hockey in the USHL and NAHL.
Moving forward, the EHL will continue to strive to reach its goals by holding each other accountable, as it’s the owners and coaches within the league that supply the tools for success our players are looking for: advancing players to a higher level of play.
Read more at usajuniorhockey.com.