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My son played in the NESCAC and I think that the only generalizations I can make are that: (a) it was a great experience; and (b) there's no one formula for how to get there. There are a couple of exceptions, but for the most part, his teammates were very good students (top of their class) and very good hockey players. lots of them had D1 interest and or commitments, played in the best prep schools, etc.... I would estimate that a third of the players aged out of juniors, maybe a third come directly from prep schools (usually after a PG year or having repeated a year). The rest are an assortment of kids who played midget hockey, transferred from somewhere else (sometimes a D1 school), etc... There are a few kids who make it right from high school, but that is rare. For some teams (trinity especially) most, if not all, of the incoming kids are 21 year old frosh. The other schools aren't as bad, but they'll recruit at least some older kids out of juniors too. Many of those schools have summer exposure camps that can be worthwhile. Look on the websites for info. The coaches that my son dealt with were pretty open about how to get to that level. There are only about 80 spots a year in the whole league. So the kids who get to play there are very lucky.
Google NESCAC hockey recruits
Database of recruits and background.
Thank you. This is actually helpful info!