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Coaching College Hockey Recruiting Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Champs App Coaches Directory

Alyssa Gagliardi – Director of Women’s Student-Athlete Advancement – Carolina Jr Hurricanes

Jim Plumer – Head Coach – Vermont Catamounts

Matt Desrosiers – Head Coach – Clarkson Golden Knights

Laura Bellamy – Associate Head Coach – Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs

John Harrington – Head Coach – Minnesota State Mavericks

David Stockdale – Head Coach – Franklin Pierce Ravens

Logan Bittle – Head Coach – Robert Morris Colonials

Tara Connolly – Assistant Coach – RPI Engineers

Chris Donovan – Head Coach – St Michael’s Purple Knights

Categories
College Hockey Recruiting Girl's Showcase Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Which Girls Showcases Should I Attend in 2022?

I’ve been asked a few times recently about which showcases to attend in 2022. While I am not the expert on all showcases and which ones to attend, here are a variety of thoughts I have on the subject:

Showcases are just one type of event to be included in your college recruiting strategy.  Other events such as spring/summer tournaments (e.g. Beantown Classic) , USA Hockey selects process (districts & nationals) and college-sponsored camps are some others. Here is the current list we’ve compiled on our 2022 Girls Hockey Event Calendar.

2022 Girls Hockey Showcases

What’s your why?

Therefore, the first question I would ask is “What are your goals for attending the showcase?”. If you are just going to an event for fun, to get ice time or play with friends – then it really shouldn’t matter which showcase you attend. If you are using these events for development purposes, then as long as the player is receiving reasonable time of on ice-development with college-level coaches, then the specific event is less important. However, if you are going specifically to be seen by college coaches, how does it fit in with the women’s college hockey recruiting process that schools follow when engaging with prospective recruits?

Womens College Hockey Recruiting Process

As with many recruiting questions, the answer to which showcases to attend is…“it depends”. Specifically, as was told to me very early in this process, each player’s journey is a unique one, so it all relates to their specific situation.

Here are the three key questions I would use to develop a point-of-view…

1. Where are you in the recruiting process?

Are you before or after the rising junior (i.e. just finished sophomore year of high school) June 15th deadline when you can talk to coaches directly? If before, then your goal is really just to get on the radar of college coaches – basically get your name added to their tracking list. If after, would coaches at the event help your relationship or improve your visibility with them?

Girls Hockey Showcase

2. How good is your player?

Based on what you know and the feedback you’ve received from you player’s coaches, how does the player compare to their peers?  Are they one of the best for their age in the country (e.g. attended one of the USA Hockey National Camps or play on a highly rated team)?  Have they been the best player on most of the teams they’ve played on? Are they likely to have to decide between a lower ranked DI team vs a highly ranked DIII school? Or are they just an average player on an average team? Being realistic on where the player might fit into the DI/DIII range of teams would be helpful.

3. Which schools does the player have the most interested in?

Assuming those schools are a real possibility of tracking the player, then those events would be at the top of the list.  If you haven’t narrowed down any schools and don’t have a preference yet, then do some research into which hockey programs and academic majors/departments overlap for the player’s interests. Also, location, school size and financial means are additional factors to consider.

Focus, focus, focus

If you are eligible (or close enough) to talk directly with coaches, then being very focused on your shortlist of targeted schools is key. I would recommend 3-5 schools on that list. The better the player, the more targeted you can be with the schools you believe you have a realistic chance of the college reciprocating the interest. 

Most coaches state that they use showcases to help put players on their radar and to start tracking them. The typical evaluation by coaches takes place during the regular season with their fall/winter teams.  Thus, many college coaches have told me they don’t need to see a player more than once or twice at showcases. Watching them 5 or 6 times over the spring/summer becomes redundant since the player rarely shows significant development in such a short period of time. However, not all coaches/schools attend every event – so it is tempting to go to at least 3 or 4 showcases/tournaments to cover all your bases.

Which coaches will be attending?

Given the above, which tournaments have the schools attending their events which best line-up with target teams? For example, the OHD Camp in Nashville has very different coaches from the PIP Boston Showcase. Finding the right match of events and coaches can be a little tricky.

Smaller can be better

From my experience last summer, for a player who is not allowed to officially talk to schools yet, the best showcases were the smaller ones (with 6 or less teams of players – ~100 attendees or so). This way  the player can have meaningful on-ice and on-the-bench conversations with coaches and to create direct relationships with them.  Some showcases have dozens of teams other just a handful.

Finally, this summer, for my daughter, we are prioritizing school-specific camps and the USA Hockey selects camp process over showcases and tournaments. Her unique journey has her focusing on her development this summer as she prepares to attend a hockey academy this fall.  Since she will be “seen” quite a bit next year during the “regular season”, she can narrow her target this spring/summer on a small number of schools.

DIII Recruiting

One last thought…you will almost always see DIII coaches at most of these events. Usually from schools that are a reasonable distance from the event site (due to travel costs). Once again, depending on your situation, location matters for DIII recruiting at showcases.

Categories
College Hockey Recruiting Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Q1 2022 DI Women’s College Hockey Commitment Rate Update

This is an update to a previous post from December, 2021 on “Q4 2021 Women’s College Hockey Commitment Rate Update”.

2022 Commits

For 2022 commits, they have now surpassed the equivalent rate as 2021 commits.  There are now 206 2022 commits as of March 31, 2002 compared to 202 commits the same period last year. Based on previous years, there will probably only be 10-15 more commits for 2022.

2023 Commits

As of March 31st, 2022, only 97 commits have been made for DI programs compared to 163 (2021) and 139 (2022) at the equivalent time before starting for those grade years. With USA Nationals now complete, I would expect the commitment rate to increase in April and May. However, given the absolute numbers it seems that there will also surely be less 2023 commits than previous years (typically about 214 commits). My back-of-the-envelope math says that overall there will likely be between 30 and 40 less 2023 commits compared to 2021 and 2022. From talking to DI coaches, it seems the reasons extra year of eligibility and the transfer students from DI, DIII and Canadian universities.  On the positive side, Stonehill College starting in 2002 and Robert Morris University beginning their recruiting for 2023, I would suspect the gap closes slowly over the next 9 months with an additional 10-20 spots being available for those schools (otherwise my estimates would look even worse).

Goalies

Four goalies committed between January and March, 2022; one for 2022, one for 2023 and one for 2024.  This is consistent with what DI coaches have been saying on the Champs App Podcast, that the goalie process is later than for skaters. There are still only six 2023 goalie commits with an overall target of about 20 goalies per year.

Top 10 Schools

There were only four Top 10 commits in Q1 2022 and three of them were for Minnesota.

Data assumptions:

  1. Data commitment dates – source: collegecommitments.com
  2. Transfers between DI programs are not included in the number of commits
  3. Total number of commits for 2021 was 215
Categories
College Hockey Recruiting Development Camp Girl's Showcase Girls Hockey

2022 Girls Hockey Event Calendar

2022 Girls Hockey Event Calendar

Here is a list of 2022 Girls Hockey Tournaments, Showcases, Development Camps and Summer Camps.

This is a partial list. Feel free to submit a new event using our Feedback Form.

OrganizationEventDatesLocationCityAges
College Hockey ShowcasesSpring Break ShowcaseApril 14-16, 2022Fort Meyers, FL2003-2009 Birth Years
College Hockey ShowcasesSt. Louis ShowcaseAugust 5-7, 2022Centene Community Ice ArenaSt Louis, MO2003-2009 Birth Years
College Hockey ShowcasesSweden Girls High Performance CampJuly 18-29, 2022Nyköpings Arenor RosvallaNyköping, Sweden2002-2009 Birth Years
NAHANAHA COLLEGE SHOWCASEJuly 15-17, 2022Boston Sports InstituteWellesley, MA2023, '24, '25, '26 Grad Years
NCD CampsGIRLS NCD DEVELOPEMNT CAMPJuly 25-27, 2022New England Sports CenterMarlborough, MA2023, '24, '25, '26 Grad Years
Premier Ice ProspectsHockey Hall of Fame Future LegendsApril 28 - May 1, 2022Toronto, ON2010 Birth Years
Premier Ice ProspectsPremier Prep ProspectsMay 12-15, 2022The Edge Sports CenterBoston, MA2007-2010 Birth Years
Premier Ice ProspectsPremier Prospects BostonMay 13-15, 2022The Edge Sports CenterBoston, MA2007-2008 Birth Years
Premier Ice ProspectsWestern Prospects CampJune 3-5, 2022Kraken Community IceplexSeattle, WA2005-2011 Birth Years
Premier Ice Prospects585 PIP ShowcaseJune 17-20, 2022Bill Gray's Regional IceplexRochester, NY2005-2007 Birth Years
Premier Ice ProspectsGIRLS ELITE PROSPECTS CAMPJune 26-30, 2022Bill Gray's Regional IceplexRochester, NY2009 - 2011 Birth Years
Premier Ice Prospects14U PROSPECTS CAMPJune 26-30, 2022Bill Gray's Regional IceplexRochester, NY2008 Birth Years
Premier Ice ProspectsPROSPECTS GOALIE CAMPJune 26-30, 2022Bill Gray's Regional IceplexRochester, NY2006 - 2011 Birth Years
Premier Ice ProspectsPREMIER PROSPECTS COMBINEJuly 7-10, 2022UPMC Sports ComplexCranberry, PA2008 - 2011 Birth Years
Premier Ice ProspectsSOUTHERN PROSPECTS CAMPJuly 21-24, 2022Carolina Ice PalaceNorth Charleston, SC2010 - 2013 Birth Years
Premier Ice Prospects617 PIP SHOWCASE - BOSTON HARBOR STYLEJuly 27-28, 2022The Edge Sports CenterBedford, MA2023, '24, '25 Grad Years
Premier Ice Prospects702 PIP SHOWCASE - VEGAS STYLEAugust 4-7, 2022City National ArenaLas Vegas, NV2005 - 2007 Birth Years
Premier Ice Prospects615 PIP SHOWCASE - MUSIC CITY STYLEAugust 11-14, 2022Predators' Ford Ice CenterBellevue, TN2008 - 2009 Birth Years
Premier Ice ProspectsMrs. Hockey® InviteJanuary 13 - 16, 2023Ft Lauderdale, FL12U Girls - Tier 1 & Tier 2
Premier Ice ProspectsPIPs RochesterJune 24-26 2022Rochester, NY2007 thru 2010 Birth Years Tier I (AAA)
Premier Ice ProspectsLabor Day Girls FestSeptember 2-4, 2022TBD14U, 16U/17U and 19U Tier I (AAA)/Canadian AA
Premier Ice ProspectsRoc City Girls FestNovember 4-6, 2022Rochester, NY19U through 10U Tier I (AAA), Tier II (AA), Tier III (A)
Premier Ice ProspectsBurgh Thanksgiving Girls FestNovember 25-27, 2022Pittsburgh, PA19U through 10U Tier I (AAA), Tier II (AA), Tier III (A)
Premier Ice ProspectsSmashville Girls FestNovember 25-27, 2022Nashville, TN19U through 10U Tier I (AAA), Tier II (AA), Tier III (A)
Premier Ice ProspectsErie White Out WeekendDecember, 2022Erie, PA12U and 10U Tier I (AAA), Tier II (AA)
RUSH HockeyRush Spring Showcase (Florida)April 15-17, 2022Palm Beach Skate ZoneLake Worth, FL2022, '23, '24, '25, '26 Grad Years
RUSH HockeyRush College ShowcaseJune 9-12, 2022CAA Centre BramptonBrampton, ON2005 - 2008 Birth Years
RUSH HockeyRUSH RISING STARS PRE-COLLEGE SHOWCASEJune 9-12, 2022CAA Centre BramptonBrampton, ON2009 and 2010 Birth Years
RUSH HockeyRUSH ATOMIC CHALLENGEJune 9-12, 2022CAA Centre BramptonBrampton, ON2011 and 2012 Birth Years
RUSH HockeyRUSH Hockey High PerformanceJune 17-19, 2022CAA Centre BramptonBrampton, ONU11 - U22 Tier II (AA)
RUSH HockeyBEANTOWN CLASSICJuly 22-24, 2022New England Sports CenterMarlborough, MA2007 - 2012 Birth Years
RUSH HockeyBEANTOWN CLASSICJuly 29-31, 2022New England Sports CenterMarlborough, MAU19, College Elite
Showcase Hockey2022 Minnesota Meltdown AAA TournamentApril 22-24, 2022MinnesotaGirls AAA (10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, 19U)
Showcase Hockey2022 Independent ClassicMay 20-22, 2022MinnesotaGirls AAA (8U, 10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, 19U)
Showcase Hockey2022 AAA Summer ShowdownJune 10-12, 2022MinnesotaGirls AAA (10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, 19U)
Showcase Hockey2022 International CupAugust 5-7, 2022MinnesotaGirls AAA (10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, 19U)
Showcase Hockey2022 Easton Cup AAA TournamentAugust 19-21, 2022MinnesotaGirls AAA (10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, 19U)
Showcase Hockey2022 Summer FinaleAugust 26-28, 2022MinnesotaGirls AAA (8U, 10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, 19U)
Showcase Hockey2022 Warrior Cup AAASeptember 9-11, 2022MinnesotaGirls AAA (10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, 19U)
200x85 TournamentsCCM CHI-TOWN SHUFFLEApril 22-24, 2022Chicago, ILGirls Tier 1/Tier 2 (12U, 14U, 16U, 19U)
200x85 TournamentsCCM WORLD INVITE BOYS/GIRLS DALLASOctober 8-10, 2022Dallas, TXTier 1 & 2 – G12U, G14U, G16U, G19U
200x85 TournamentsCCM GIRLS WORLD INVITE DETROITNovember 11-13, 2022Detroit, MITier 1 – G12U, G14U, G16U, G19U
200x85 TournamentsCCM GIRLS WINDY CITY ELITE – CHICAGODecember 2-4, 2022Chicago, ILTier 1 – G12U, G14U, G16U, G19U
200x85 TournamentsCCM Girls 68 (14U)August 11-14, 2022Chicago, IL2008 Birthyear
200x85 TournamentsCCM MLK Boston InviteJanuary 14-16, 2023 Boston, MATier 1 & 2 – G12U, G14U, G16U, G19U
North American Female Elite ShowcaseThe Orion Top ProspectsJune 16-19, 2022Blaine, MN2005 - 2010 Birth Years
North American Female Elite ShowcaseThe Orion Young StarsAugust 4-7, 2022Boston, MA2011 & 2012
North American Female Elite ShowcaseThe Orion CupTBDTBDTBD
Pony Tail Tournament Pony Tail Tournament March 18,-20, 2022Baltimore, MDU10, U12A, U12B, U14A, U14B, U16A, U16B, U19
The Rose SeriesCowgirl ShootoutApril 21-24, 2022Nashville, TN2007 and 2010 Birth Years
The Rose SeriesQueens of VegasJuly 12-15, 2022Las Vegas, NV2008 and 2011 Birth Years
The Rose SeriesOC Freeze OutJuly 14-17, 2022Anaheim, CA2012 Birth Year
The Rose SeriesWar for the RosesJuly 11-16, 2022Edmonton, Alberta2009 Birth Year
Categories
College Hockey Recruiting Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Q4 2021 Women’s College Hockey Commitment Rate Update

This is an update to a previous post from October, 2021 on “How Does the Number of 2023 Women’s College Hockey Commits Compare to Previous Years?”.

2022 Commits

For 2022 commits, they are all caught up to the same rate as 2021 commits. There are 193 2022 commits as of Dec 31 for compared to 191 commits the same period last year. Based on previous years, there will probably be on ~20 more commits for 2022.

2023 Commits

As of December 31st, 2021, only 83 commits have been made for DI programs compared to 152 (2021) and 134 (2022) at the equivalent time before starting for those grade years. So the big questions that remains is: Will there be less 2023 commits than previous years (typically about 214 commits) or is the recruiting process just slower this year given everything that is going on with Covid and the extra year of eligibility?

Goalies

Three goalies committed between Oct and Dec, 2021, but what is interesting is that they were all for 2022. This is consistent with what DI coaches have been saying on the Champs App Podcast, that the goalie process is later than for skaters. There continues to only be four 2023 goalie commits with an overall target of about 20 goalies per year.

Top 10 Schools

There were quite a few commits (and transfers) from the Top 10 Schools in Q3 2021.

Data assumptions:

  1. Data commitment dates – source: collegecommitments.com
  2. Transfers between DI programs are not included in the number of commits
  3. Total number of commits for 2021 was 215
  4. Please keep in mind there were no adjustments in the number of schools each year (e.g. RMU, St Michaels, Stonehill)
Categories
Coaching College Hockey Recruiting Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

How Does the Number of 2023 Women’s College Hockey Commits Compare to Previous Years?

One of the questions I’ve been discussing with some hockey parents has been how have the new recruiting rules and Covid impacted the timing of college commitments for female hockey players. So I decided to analyze the commitment dates by DI college start year for those student-athletes starting in 2021 vs. 2022 and 2023.  As you can see, the rate of 2023 Women’s College Hockey commits is significantly behind previous years.

As of September 30, 2021, what the data shows is that for 2023 grads, the % of commitments expected for 2023 grads is significantly below where 2021 and 2022 grads were. To be clear, 23 months before a player would start at a DI program, only ~26% (57) of the expected available spots have been filled compared to the equivalent time period for 2021 (64% / 132) and 2022 (49% / 105) players.

Goalies

The number is even more dramatic for goalies which have only seen a single 2023 commit (Holy Cross) occur since coaches were allowed to talk to potential recruits this summer. Only 4 goalies in total have committed for 2023 compared to 16 for 2022 and 22 netminders for 2021.

Top 10 Schools are Moving Slowly

For the Top 10 Schools, more than half of the 2023 commits were made before the recruiting rules changed in 2019, and only half have had a 2023 commit announced this year.

Interpreting the Data

My hypotheses for the significantly lower 2023 commitment rate are:

  1. Many girls still haven’t had an on-campus visit yet. Many have likely been waiting until after the summer to visit DI teams when teams are back practicing and playing.
  2. There is still some ambiguity for 2023 recruiting needs due to the extra year of eligibility for all NCAA players. This can be from transfers or 5th year players.
  3. Covid has restricted or impeded on-campus visits for many prospective student-athletes     

Data assumptions:

  • Data commitment dates – source: collegecommitments.com
  • Transfers between DI programs are not included in the number of commits
  • Total number of commits for 2021 was 215
  • Please keep in mind there were no adjustments in the number of schools each year (e.g. RMU, St Michaels, Stonehill)
Categories
College Hockey Recruiting Girls Hockey Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Defining the College Athlete Recruiting Process

In previous posts I have discussed attending showcases and camps which are scouted by college coaches.  One of the key aspects of participating in these events is to recognize how they fit in to the end-to-end college recruiting process. Except for the rare exceptional player, attending any single event likely contributes only a fraction of the information involved in getting an offer from a school. As discussed many times before, each student-athletes recruiting journey is unique. However, this post serves as a general framework on defining the college athlete recruiting process. In addition, it attempts to provide context on tracking the process. Hopefully this information helps players and parents set reasonable expectations for what should happen depending on which stage of their journey they are in.

Awareness

How do coaches find and track potential student-athlete recruits? Here is a non-exhaustive list of sources for schools to add names to their recruiting database.

  • Top program rosters (e.g. hockey academy, prep school, top AAA club)
  • USA Nationals
  • USA Hockey national camp
  • In-season tournaments
  • Spring/summer showcases
  • College summer camps
  • Inbound email from player
  • Team website interest form
  • Coach referral

Research

How do teams scout and collect player information?  How are players evaluated and rated?

Once a player is on a team’s radar, then they are researching the player to see if they might be a fit for their program. Here are the some of their primary sources of data gathering.

  • Watch livestream games (e.g. LiveBarn, HockeyTV)
  • Watch games in-person
  • Coach references (current, past, opposing team)
  • College summer camps
  • Public available data (social media, Elite Prospects, team/league websites, MyHockeyRankings)

Consideration

How do teams rank players and narrow their list for potential offers?

Assuming a players skill level meets a certain standard to be considered for a potential offer from the research phase, then additional information is also collected to be used in the decision-making process.

  • Past interactions (camps, showcases etc.)
  • Phone/Zoom/In-person conversations (interviews)
  • Virtual visits
  • Unofficial visits
  • Official visits

Prior to starting Champs App, my last company focused on the employee recruiting process. In particular, the interviewing stage for large companies.  What is remarkably similar between job recruiting and college athlete recruiting is that that “hiring” organization wants to have as many “qualified” potential candidates in their recruiting pipeline before they make an offer. This gives them the school/company best opportunity to make an offer to the “best fit” candidate while realizing that the candidate, or student-athlete in this case, also has options and may choose to go somewhere else. Striking the balance between keeping potential recruits interested without any promise of an offer is a challenge that depends on creating a trusting relationship between both parties.

Offer

How do prospective student-athletes and school align their respective needs/interests with positional openings?

  • Number of openings;  openings by position
  • Offer creation/discussion/negotiation:
    • Start year
    • Financial aid / scholarships (if available)
    • Expectations (role, depth chart)
  • Academic considerations

When it comes to the Offer stage of the college recruiting process, there are still many questions I have about how a final decision is made. In upcoming podcasts with college coaches, I will be asking the following questions.

  • Do you make offers to players, with an assumption that not all of them will accepts (i.e. expect a yield rate)? Or do you only make offers with a specific opening in mind, then go down the list when a player does not accept an offer?
  • What attributes are negotiable in an offer from a school?
  • Are conditional offers made which are dependent on academic requirements?

When I get the answers to these questions I will write up my findings in a follow-up post.

Categories
College Hockey Recruiting Development Camp Girls Hockey Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

What I learned attending the USA Hockey 15s Girls Development Camp

Part III – College Recruiting

This is the third and final post focusing on the college recruiting process based my experience as a parent at the USA Hockey Girls Camp that took place in St Cloud Minnesota from July 10-15, 2021.

You can read the previous posts about the Schedule & Operational Details and USA Hockey Player Development

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what to write for this post.  I wanted to specifically discuss what happened at the USA Hockey 15’s camp in St. Cloud.  However, I have come to realize that it would be incomplete without providing additional context about the entire women’s college recruiting process.  As a result, for this post I am mostly just going to stick to the facts and data I collected.  Separately, I will soon publish a detailed post about what I have figured out so far about the end-to-end recruiting process to give the perspective needed for any individual event.

What became obvious quite quickly, is that coaches from all over the country were flocking to St Cloud to see the top 216 15-year old female players.  Kristin Wright stated at the opening parents meeting that 90% of schools would be at the Development Camp at some point during the week.  Based on all the logos I saw that number must have been pretty close.

Here are the schools I saw first-hand, but I am sure this is not a complete list:

• Bemidji State
Boston College
• Boston University
• Brown
• Clarkson
• Cornell
• Franklin Pierce
• Harvard
Holy Cross
Lindenwood
• Mercyhurst
• Minnesota
• Minnesota State
Northeastern
• Ohio State
Princeton
• Providence
Quinnipiac
• Rice
RPI
• Sacred heart
St Cloud
St Lawrence
• St Thomas
• Vermont
• Union
Wisconsin

At a basic level coaches had two objectives for attending the event:

  • Watching players already on their list and track their performance/development
  • Identify new players to add to their follow list

Since I was sitting in the stands with most of the coaches I had a few observations. Some coaches were very social and others kept to themselves.  Some showed up just the first couple of days, others just for the last 2 or 3 days. Unlike 16/17s camp which took place a couple of weeks earlier, coaches can’t talk to the 15’s parents – so there was almost engagement between coaches and parents. Schools that I did not see their logos seemed to have on-ice coaches represented at either the 16/17s camp or the U18 camp. Many coaches had printed rosters or iPads to identify players and take notes. But quite a few did not appear to have a method to take notes or remember players.  Each school seem to have a different scouting strategy/plan. Some schools had multiple coaches, while other only had one representative. As well, some scouts only watched games, while other watched all the public practices and scrimmages.

A couple of schools really stood out to me during the week

Brian Durocher Boston University

The first was Boston University head coach Brian Durocher who spent the first three days watching almost every practice and game. He would just stand on his own down along the glass quietly taking notes on a little piece of paper. And when there was a break on one rink he go watch players on the other rink.  He was very unassuming, but clearly using his many years of experience to evaluate players and take copious notes.

The other school that impressed, was the team of Ohio State coaches (at least four in total both on-ice and off-ice) who were making sure they watched all the girls on both rinks throughout the week. They typically sat in a group around head coach Nadine Muzerall and watched a lot of hockey together. As a Michigan grad it isn’t easy for me to say nice things about OSU, but clearly they have prioritized scouting and their recruiting process as a key to their success.

In my next post I will discuss what I have learned about different stages of the women’s college recruiting process. This will help answer many of the questions I have received about how much should a player be seen in the spring and summer at showcases and events compared to their regular season team.

Categories
College Hockey Recruiting Development Camp Girl's Showcase Women's College Hockey

What I learned attending the 2021 USA Hockey 15’s Girl’s Development Camp

Part I

This is the first in a three-part series on my experience as a parent at the 2021 USA Hockey 15’s Girls Select hockey camp. In this series, I will first cover the schedule and operational details about the event. In part two, I will discuss the USA Hockey player development perspective and finally, in part three, I will discuss how the camp related to the college recruiting process.

Please keep in mind that this these posts are about my experience at the event and the information I collected. I wasn’t a participant and did not track every activity my daughter or the other girls had scheduled during the week. This is just my perspective as a parent who talked to a handful players and several parents during and after the week and what I took away from the experience – your mileage may vary.

On the first day of the camp, I really appreciated Kristen Wright, the USA Hockey Female ADM Manager, answering a bunch of my questions and providing additional perspective on the camp and helping me understand the “how” and “why” on a bunch of topics related to the Player Development Camp process. I really hope to get Kristen on the Champs App Podcast after all the USA Hockey camps are done. 

When?

The USA Hockey Girls 15’s Camp was held from July 10-15, 2021 

Where?

The camp took place at the St. Cloud University campus with the hockey events taking place primarily at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. The facility has two Olympic sized rinks. Rink 2 is a practice rink with limited stands for parents and scouts and no above-ice seating or views. Rink 1 is the main rink for the varsity hockey teams and is where a full sized arena with seating of ~6000 seats and a few club boxes at one of the rink behind the net (where many USA Hockey organizers/coaches observed practices and games).

While many coaches and scouts easily moved back and forth between the two rinks, it was clearly easier to watch players anywhere on the ice on Rink 1 compared to Rink 2. In addition, for a handful or observers (USA Hockey representatives or scouts), Rink 1 was the primary rink from which they watched players. For example, from what I saw (and I didn’t watch every game or practice), Katie Lachapelle, the USA Hockey U18 coach, seemed to only watch activity on Rink 1 (note: she may have had a screen to watch a Rink 2 feed). Thus, it seemed that there might have been a slight advantage to having more ice time on Rink 1 vs Rink 2 throughout the week, especially for games.

Who?

There were approximately 216 2006 birth-year girls in attendance at the camp. You can find a complete list of the players here. The girls were selected from the 12 USA Hockey district camps with the number of players directly in proportion to the percentage of registered females for this age group for each district. Therefore, if a district had ~10% of the female 2006 players registered in all of USA Hockey, there should have been 21 or 22 players from that district.

Players were split up into 12 teams designated by color and divided into three division of four teams each. Each team had a Head Coach, typically from a DI school or Prep School, an Intern Coach and a Team Leader. Players did all their activities with their team and typically shared events with another team from their division.

In addition, there was anywhere between 70 and 100 USA Hockey representatives on and off the ice throughout the week. During many of the on-ice practices it was typical to see a 3:1 player-to-coach ratio with 3-5 coaches running each station – this was awesome for the players. Also, there were many (a little hard for me to estimate) USA Hockey representatives in the stands or along the glass watching practices and games – many with computers or notebooks – likely scouting and evaluating players.

What?

Testing:

Upon arrival at the camp players there was some on-ice and off-ice testing. About a week prior to the start of the camp, players were sent a list of 8 metrics that each player would be tested on. They included off-ice strength (push-ups and pull-ups, vertical jump) and on-ice speed (20 yards sprint, blue line-to-blue line). While the attributes being measured were pretty similar to those in the past, there were a couple of changes to previous years. As discussed on the Champs App Podcast, at this age these measurements aren’t of significant importance, it is really to track improvement over the coming years. However, it probably makes sense next time to publish what will be tested when the original invitation to players were sent out (about a month beforehand) to allow the girls time to properly train for the testing.

During the week there was a lot of on-ice and off-ice activities for each team. Here is a list of some of those activities and what was published with regards to the daily schedule:

Off-ice:

The schedule included a wide range of activities including”

  • Team building
  • Nutrition
  • Stickhandling and shooting
  • Mental skills
  • Feedback session

On-Ice:

The on-ice program included 3 practices (60 or 90 minutes),  3 games (2 x 25 minutes stop-time periods), and two 1-period (25 minute) playoff games on the final day. In addition, Goalies had an addition two practice times with coaches.

Practices:

For the most-part practices were really well-done. Every practice was run like a typical USA Hockey practice with a variety of stations and small areas games. During regular practices there were typically 12 or 13 coaches on the ice which was awesome to see. It is my understanding that for the two goalie sessions it was even better – with more coaches than goalies on the ice. Even better was how awesome it was that ~90% of the on-ice coaches were female.

Games:

Games were just okay, there were moments of beauty surrounded by long periods of sloppy play (especially the first day of games). Given these were the top 2006 players in the country, the lack of team practice time was pretty noticeable – even for an amateur like myself. Most teams improved their chemistry as the games went on and players learned to trust their teammates instead trying to do everything themselves. And while I don’t want to complain about the refs, it was clear there was a bias to minimize the number of whistles for icings/offsides and calling infractions unless they were pretty blatant. It was definitely not the same standard as the USA Hockey National playoffs. There was a two-game singe-period playoff on the final day based on the round-robin standings. With the finals on Rink 1 for each division while the consolation game was played concurrently on Rink 2.

Why?

On the first day Kristen Wright held a session for the parents to explain the objectives of the camp. While I am sure I am not capturing all the goals of the week, from what I saw here is what USA Hockey’s intent was:

  • Introduce the girls to USA Hockey national team program and educate the players on the values and skills required to play at the highest level with USA Hockey
  • Give USA Hockey scouts a first look at the 2006 birth year and begin benchmarking their level to track their progress as they continue to develop
  • Allow players to see, compete and benchmark themselves with their peer group and begin to form relationships from players from across the country
  • As explained to me by Kristen Wright, due to Covid and a compact summer schedule, unlike previous years, none of the 15’s camp participants would have the opportunity to be invited to the U18 camp (which was different from the 16/17’s camp from a couple of weeks earlier which sent 13 players to the U18 camp). So the camp would be the final USA Hockey event for the participants before the start of the fall season.

All the games were broadcast live on HockeyTV and available on demand. While the camera angles were challenging…very high on Rink 1 and for Rink 2 the only reasonable position for a live feed that follows the play with a cameraman being in one of the corners – it was certainly better than no feed at all – especially for parents and family who could not attend in person – but was hard on the eyes.

 One final note…surprisingly, the cost per player was less than $200 for the camp – the only major cost was the transportation to get to Minnesota. So, from an out-of-pocket perspective, this camp was great value for the buck – even though this was secondary to all the other benefits from the week.

In the next post I will go into detail on my thought how the camp relates to the USA Hockey National Player Development program from a player perspective.

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College Hockey Recruiting Development Camp Girl's Showcase Parents Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

What I learned attending my first DI Girls College Hockey Showcase

This past weekend my 2006 daughter and I attended our first showcase with Division I coaches participating and scouting at the event.  The 585 PIP Showcase – Roc City Style took place in Rochester, New York at the Bill Gray Iceplex from June 18-20, 2021. Here is what I learned…

Who participated in the 585 PIP College Hockey Showcase?

In attendance were 180 players with birth years 2004, 2005 and 2006. Their break down by birth year and high school graduation year were as follows:

Included in these players, were many girls invited to the different 2021 USA Hockey Camps next month in Minnesota. Of particular interest to us, were the three players at the 585 Showcase who were the only 2006’s invited directly to the U18 Camp – thus, at least by USA Hockey’s assessment, considered the top three 15’s in the country.

From the recruiting side, there were 28 DI and 6 DIII schools represented (note: 13 schools were previous guests on the Champs App Podcast):

Boston CollegeMercyhurstQuinnipiacYale
BrownMerrimackRITConnecticut College
Boston UniversityMinnesotaRPIElmira College
ClarksonMinnesota DuluthSt. LawrenceNazareth
ColgateNortheasternSyracusePlattsburgh
CornellOhio StateUConnSUNY Oswego
HarvardPenn StateUnionUniversity of Buffalo
Holy CrossPrincetonVermont 
LindenwoodProvidenceWisconsin 

20 of the DI coaches participated in on-ice events which for each player included a skills sessions, a practice and 4 games.

Starting the women’s college hockey recruiting process

Unlike the first showcase in Rochester that we attended last October, 2020 during Covid, our goals for this past weekend were very different. Back then, since my daughter hadn’t played with girls before, we were just trying to calibrate how good a hockey player she was compared to other female players.

This 585 event was the first step in the long journey of my daughter’s recruiting process with the intent of being seen by some of the schools she currently has an interest in. Something which makes her situation unique, is that she has only played on boys tier hockey teams and will once again play boys tier 1 hockey next season. While this is great from a hockey development perspective, this puts her at a disadvantage because she does not get seen at in-season girls tournaments or the USA Hockey Girls National playoffs. This is why spring/summer girls showcases are so important for her specific college recruiting journey.

What were our goals for attending a girls college hockey showcase?

One of the challenges I struggled with leading up to the weekend, was defining the objectives for the showcase and how would we measure success?  Unlike the USA Hockey district camp we attended last month, where it was clear that the goal for my daughter was to be invited to the 15’s national camp and thus easily measurable (even though it took almost a month to learn the results). For Rochester, this is what we came up with:

  • Initiate scouting coverage by a handful of schools that my daughter has an interest in
  • Ideally, create the beginnings of a relationship with those schools via the on-ice coaching opportunities
  • Get on the radar of other schools. This is a long process and who knows where the best fit(s) may be for my daughter when she gets closer to being able to talk directly with colleges.
  • See what makes the Top 3 2006’s special

Being Proactive – Planning for a Girls College Showcase Weekend

To help with the first goal for the showcase, during the week prior to the event, my daughter sent a handful of emails to coaches who would be in attendance. She let them know why she was interested in their school and invited them to watch her during the weekend. Per NCAA recruiting rules, since my daughter cannot be contacted prior to June 15th, 2022 (at the end of her sophomore year), coaches could not email her back.

As a parent, it is unclear to me how college coaches scout at these events

My first takeaway from the showcase is that I really don’t understand how coaches scout at large showcases and tournaments – from my uninitiated perspective, there are just too many players and games to watch. During my podcast interviews, coaches have told me that while showcases are good to get to know players, they really prefer watching them play real games with their regular season teams. I did see most coaches carrying around the color-coded player lists for each team, many taking notes while coaching from behind the bench and when scouting games.  However, given there were 180 players, I have many questions on how they decide which games to watch, which players to focus on and what they are evaluating. In my upcoming podcasts, I will be sure to dive deep on how coaches collect their information at these types of events with so much going on.

Showcase teams with more “top-program” players had more coaches watching them

Another takeaway from the weekend, is that luck played a role in which team you were on – which then translated into how likely you were to be seen by as many coaches as possible. It is unclear how teams were formed for the event, but it was obvious that some teams had many more players from well-known teams (e.g. Shattuck-St Mary’s, Little Caesars, BK Selects, East Coast Wizards, Chicago Mission) than others. The more “brand-name-team” players on a team’s roster, the more coaches were likely to watch that team play and how often. Some games had what appeared to be a couple of dozen coaches watching from above or along the glass, while for other games I could count the number of non-bench coaches scouting the action on one hand.

For example, there was a game with 20+ players on the ice from those “top programs” playing each other with a full-house of DI coaches, while simultaneously, on a separate rink, there weren’t many coaches watching a game with only 3 “top-program” players.

It’s hard to immediately measure the success for a summer showcase weekend

One of the challenges of the weekend was quantifying some key metrics. Based on discussions with my daughter and from what I was able to observe from the stands, at least half of the six coaches she emailed had watched her play in a game – plus she was able to talk with another targeted coach during one of the skills sessions. In addition, she had direct interactions/conversations with about 8 additional DI coaches during the on-ice practices and games. Of course, it is impossible to know which coaches and how many actually scouted her from off-ice positions, this is something we may only discover sometime in the future. So in the end, measuring success of the weekend is a little opaque and one can only hope that sometime after June 15, 2022 we can see the benefits.

USA Hockey’s Top 2006 Players for 2021

It was great to watch the three 2006’s who were invited directly to the USA Hockey U18 Girls Camp play.  All three were big, strong players and very noticeable when they were on the ice. One of them scored a wonderful goal by powering their way to the net and popping the puck top-shelf over the goalie’s shoulder. It was the prettiest play I saw all weekend.

First Steps in a Long Journey

Overall, for a first DI showcase event, it seemed to be a pretty good start. Clearly, several schools now know who my daughter is and the process has begun. We have three more opportunities for her to be scouted this summer (2021 USA National Development Camp, 2021 NAHA College Showcase and the PIP 702 Vegas) before she returns to her boys team in the fall.