The Foxboro (Mass.) Sports Center was packed during the River Rats Jamboree in August. At the Eastern Alliance Kickoff early in September, the New England Sports Center parking lot in Marlboro, Mass., was full at all times.
Inside both venues, hundreds of parents and players were moving in every direction — heading to games, grabbing a quick bite to eat or chatting with friends.
Sticking out in those crowds were all the college coaches in their jackets — Boston University, Harvard, UConn, Sacred Heart, Ohio State. The list could go.
This is the case almost every weekend through the fall in the region. College coaches flock to rinks to watch fall split-season teams or academies, as they look for college hockey’s next impact players.
The fall split-season model leads into the prep school hockey schedule, which has long been scouted by college coaches and NHL eyes. It carries history. It’s what parents have no problem paying lots of tuition money for.
However, fall hockey and its showcases have gained more relevance in recent years. So which brand of hockey is more important in the eyes of college coaches?
The answer is complicated.