The Registration section of the USA Hockey Annual Guide recognizes the HIGH School/PREP School playing classification for players and teams. The Guide notes that the classification is composed of "Formal high school and prep school teams or non-varsity teams consisting of full-time students attending high school/prep school." The Guide also notes that high school teams "may roster up to 30 players" and "may play 20 players."

Besides using USA Hockey player eligibility criteria, each high school hockey organization should consider their need for additional criteria for both players and teams. Experience has shown that there is no one set of criteria that will meet the needs of all teams, organizations, associations, and Leagues within the United States. Common sense suggests that player and team eligibility should mirror the students' school athletic program academic and other eligibility requirements to the extent practical.

The following is an example of the player and team criteria used by the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League (MSHL) for their program.

Player Eligibility

The MSHL uses the same eligibility criteria for a student's team membership as individual public and private schools use for their sports programs. As a departure from traditional high school contact sports rules, the MSHL has always welcomed and encouraged girls as well as boys to join teams and learn the sport of ice hockey. The MSHL also supports a Girls Division playing under rules that prepare them for college level girls ice hockey programs.

MSHL competition by students is recognized as an official school activity by the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, which is composed of parochial schools, and several private schools, but the League is neither affiliated with nor recognized as an official school activity by public schools.

Student player eligibility requirements:

Students must maintain an academic record meeting their school's sports eligibility criteria for a winter high school sport. If a student is academically eligible to play basketball for a school, the student is also eligible to play on an ice hockey team composed of students from that school.

Students must be eligible to participate as a member of a team sanctioned by USA Hockey and the high school represented by the team and must not be in a suspension status imposed by either the high school they attend or USA Hockey. If a student has been suspended from school or from participating in school activities or if the player has been suspended from playing on an other USA Hockey sanctioned team under USA Hockey rules, the student is not eligible to play on a high school level MSHL team.

Since ice hockey is a fast paced contact sport with the potential for personal injury, students must demonstrate to a team's coach that they have sufficient skating ability and knowledge of the rules of hockey to not be a hazard to themselves or other players.

Team Eligibility

The MSHL sponsors four types of teams: Varsity, Girls Varsity, Junior Varsity (JV), and Developmental/Novice. For each type of team, student players must meet the academic and other eligibility requirements of their school for playing a winter school sport. Teams are encouraged to open their rosters to all students who want to learn and play hockey, rather than just to experienced players. More students on a team also leads to lower prorated costs for each player.

Varsity Teams:

A Varsity team is composed of students attending the high school with which the team is associated. Varsity teams are ranked at the beginning of the season as either Tier I or II. These teams play in the Varsity Tier I and Tier II Championship Playoffs.

A Provisional Varsity team is composed of students attending more than one school. The purpose of a Provisional team is to provide students whose schools do not have a Varsity team an opportunity to learn and play hockey. MSHL team representatives must approve the roster of a Provisional team. For MSHL regular season Varsity games, goals, assists, and penalties count as in any other game. These teams do not play in the Varsity Championship Playoffs.

Girls Varsity Teams:

The MSHL sponsors a Girls Varsity Division. To increase opportunities for girls to learn and compete playing the sport of ice hockey at the high school level, the MSHL allows Girls teams to accept a broader player base than only one school without being classified as a Provisional Team. These teams play in the Girls Varsity Championship Playoffs.

Junior Varsity Teams:

A JV team is composed of students attending the school with which the team is associated. With several MSHL rule exceptions, players must meet their school's requirements for playing on a JV team. These teams play in the JV Championship Playoffs.

The JV Developmental program has enabled new players to learn the sport and develop their skills. Rather than play a set schedule, each team decides how many games they will play during a season to meet the developmental needs of their students. Experienced Varsity players usually play with the Developmental JV teams, serving as mentors for the less experienced JV players.

Novice Teams:

Novice teams are composed of students who have not played hockey for other teams. These teams are strictly developmental in nature. Rather than play a set schedule, each team decides how many games they will play during a season to meet the developmental needs of their students.