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

What I learned attending my first USA Hockey Girls District Camp

This past weekend I attended my first USA Hockey Girls District Camp in Las Vegas for the Pacific District with my daughter (2006 birth year). As someone who is new to this whole process, I wanted to share what I learned attending my first USA Hockey Girls District Camp. There were many things I didn’t know or understand until we went through the experience and I had conversations with the organizers & coaches in attendance. Since the Pacific District Camp was one of the first ones to be held in 2021, hopefully there are other players and parents who can take some of this information to help them with their own preparation.

Which players were invited?

Like all USA Hockey girls district camps, there were two age groups. One for 15 year-olds (2006 birth year) and one for 16- and 17 year-olds (2005, 2004 birth years). The players were selected by their state affiliates (e.g. California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska) with the numbers of players from each affiliate somewhat in proportion to the # of USA Hockey registration participation level. So, if a state had twice as many female players for an age group, they would be allocated twice as many sports at the district camp.

At each level players were placed on to one of 4 teams comprising of up to 9 Forward, 6 D and 2 Goalies.

What did the players do?

Over the course of the weekend there were 3 on-ice practices, 3 games and 2 off-ice zoom sessions. For goalies there was an additional goalie-specific on-ice sessions at the start of the weekend.

On-Ice practices were run by DIII coaches with assistance from affiliate coaches.  These practices were straight out of the USA Hockey ADM practice philosophy which included a 4-station rotation, half ice small area drills & games and of course some cross-ice games with different types of variations of 3-on-3. From my observation, while there was the occasional tip from a coach here and there, there was not a lot of heavy technical feedback, instead the tone was quite positive and focused on giving the girls a lot of reps.

For games, each team played the other 3 teams once.  Games consisted of three 22-minute periods of running time, with a break at the 11-minute mark for the 2 goalies on each team to switch and ensure equal playing time. For most games, the scores were not posted on the scoreboard and all penalties were enforced as penalty shots with players chasing down the shooter from behind.

The Zoom calls mainly focused on education players on the college recruiting process and the do’s & don’ts when communicating with college coaches. Many of the same topics that we have covered in the Champs App Podcast were covered in these calls.

PLAYER EVALUATION

Kathy McGarrigle

Before arriving at the PDC, there was not a lot of information shared about the evaluation process, however I did speak in-depth with Kathy McGarrigle, the Pacific District Girls Hockey Director, who was responsible for organizing the entire weekend (she is also the Founder, Program Director and Head Coach for the Anaheim Lady Ducks). She graciously answered all my questions.

Kathy explained to me that, historically, the Pacific District joined forces with the Rocky Mountain District to have a Multi-District Camp, but with the expected growth in girl’s hockey in Nevada and Washington thanks to the Golden Knights and Kraken, the Pacific District is focusing on having their own camp for the coming years.

Who:

Kathy McGarrigle made it clear to me that all of the evaluators were from outside of the Pacific district to ensure complete objectivity and that process was not political. No one affiliated with a club or program is involved in the decision making.  The evaluators consisted of DIII team coaches who were behind the bench and on the ice during games and practices, but several off-ice evaluators who stood in their own blocked-off section away from spectators. Beyond the evaluators for the Pacific District Camp, there were additional USA Hockey evaluators scouting the event for the national camps in July. They were there to see if any 15/16 year-old players were strong enough to be chosen directly for the U18 National camp as well as capture additional information on top players being considered for all the national camps.   

There were no DI coaches in attendance likely due to the recruiting blackout period which does not get lifted until June 1st combined with those coaches being more focused on the national camp players (who are most likely to be DI prospects).

What: 

While no specific or official guidelines were provided as to what was being evaluated, Kathy mentioned to me all the basics in terms of hockey skills like skating and passing, team play, character and effort. In addition, she emphasized that scoring the most goals didn’t guarantee anything, they were looking at the complete player over the entirety of the weekend.

When: 

Evaluators watched all games and practices for the specific age groups they were assigned to (either 2006 or 2004/05). The third and final games were where all the evaluators were together watching the players at the same time.  Kathy explained to me that at the end of each day the evaluators convened to discuss the top players and systemically put together a dynamic rank of players which does not get finalized until after the final games on Sunday.

Why:

For the players in attendance at the camp, the ultimate goal is to be selected for one of the three National Player Development Camps taking place this July in Minnesota (15s, 16s/17s and 18U).  Once again, the number of spots allotted to the Pacific District is based on the percent of registrants in USA Hockey, of which the Pacific District represents ~6% of the player population.  Since the 15s National camp has about 216 players in attendance, then the Pacific District should get ~13 spots (plus or minus) for that age group. For the 16s/17s, those numbers there are the same number of spots, but for both birth years since that camp is combined, thus the number of spots is allocated by birth year in proportion in registration percentage.

Kathy informed me that the final list of invites to the national camp would likely not be released until June 9th, 2021 since the Pacific Camp was one of the first in the country to be completed. As the players who will be invited to the U18 Camp are decided, there is a cascading effect on who will get invited to the 16s/17s camp and is dependent on other districts completing their camps. Thus, the delay of nearly a month until we will are informed on the Pacific selections.

My thoughts:

Overall, the weekend was a great opportunity for the girls to compete with the top players on the west coast and see how they compare. In reality, there was a big standard deviation in talent, but this is something I expected since the Pacific teams tend not to be as strong for girls hockey as other areas of the country. So, hopefully it was a good learning opportunity to benchmark and self-reflect on which part of their game each player needs to work on.

Unfortunately, due to the Covid protocols and the short weekend, no formal feedback was provided to the girls (only ad hoc on-ice or behind-the-bench guidance). As Kathy suggested to me during the weekend, if a player wanted feedback, they should proactively query their coach. That would be my recommendation to players who have upcoming camps in other districts, to ask their coach for their advice on their specific development needs towards the end of the camp.

P.S. A memorable part of the weekend was when a parent from Alaska recognized my Champs hat and asked “Are you the Champs App Podcast guy?” and thanked me for the podcasts.

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Development Camp Girl's Showcase

2021 Girls Hockey Event Calendar

2021 Girls Hockey Event Calendar

Here is a list of 2021 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 ShowcasesFlorida Girls Spring Break ShowcaseApril 22-24, 2021Hertz Arena
College Hockey ShowcasesSt. Louis ShowcaseAugust 12-14, 2021Centene Community Ice Arena
College Hockey ShowcasesCHS Pre-Showcase Mini-CampApril 19-21, 2021Hertz ArenaFort Myers, Fla
College Hockey ShowcasesTop Prospects Hockey SummitAugust 2-6, 2021Gigantium ArenaAalborg, Denmark2011 and Older
College Hockey ShowcasesSweden Girls High Performance CampJuly 19-30, 2021Nyköpings Arenor RosvallaNyköping, Sweden2008 & Older
NAHANAHA COLLEGE SHOWCASEJuly 31-August 1, 2021Boston Sports InstituteWellesley, MA
National Girls Hockey LeagueNGHL ChampionshipFeb 12-15, 2021St. Louis Community Ice CenterMaryland Heights, MO
NCD CampsGIRLS NCD DEVELOPEMNT CAMPJuly 26-28, 2021New England Sports CenterMarlborough, MA
PDL ELITE HOCKEYPDL ELITE HOCKEYTOWN SHOWCASEApril 16th-18th, 2021Fraser HockeylandDetroit, MI
PDL ELITE HOCKEYHOLLAND SHOWCASE SERIESMay 7th - 9th, 2021Griff's IceHouse WestHolland, MI
Premier Ice ProspectsPREMIER PREP PROSPECTSMay 13-16, 2021The Edge Sports CenterBedford, MA
Premier Ice ProspectsCAMP ROBIN HOODJune 5-9, 2021Freedom, NH
Premier Ice Prospects585 PIP ShowcaseJune 18 - 20, 2021Bill Gray's Regional IceplexRochester, NY2004-2006 Birth Years
Premier Ice ProspectsGIRLS ELITE PROSPECTS CAMPJune 27 - July 1, 2021Bill Gray's Regional IceplexRochester, NY2008 - 2010
Premier Ice Prospects14U PROSPECTS CAMPJune 27 - July 1, 2021Bill Gray's Regional IceplexRochester, NY
Premier Ice ProspectsPROSPECTS GOALIE CAMPJune 27 - July 1, 2022Bill Gray's Regional IceplexRochester, NY
Premier Ice ProspectsPREMIER PROSPECTS COMBINEJuly 8-11, 2021UPMC Sports ComplexCranberry, PA
Premier Ice ProspectsSOUTHERN PROSPECTS CAMPJuly 22-25, 2021Carolina Ice PalaceNorth Charleston, SC12U (2009/2010) & 10U (2011/2012)
Premier Ice Prospects617 PIP SHOWCASE - BOSTON HARBOR STYLEJuly 28 - 29, 2021The Edge Sports CenterBedford, MA2003 - 2005 Birth Years
Premier Ice Prospects702 PIP SHOWCASE - VEGAS STYLEAugust 5 - 8, 2021City National ArenaLas Vegas, NV2004 - 2006 Birth Years
Premier Ice Prospects615 PIP SHOWCASE - MUSIC CITY STYLEAugust 12 - 15, 2021Predators' Ford Ice CenterBellevue, TN2007 - 2008 Birth Years
Premier Ice ProspectsGreat Lakes Girls FestJanuary 29 - 31, 2021Lansing, MI19U through 12U
Premier Ice ProspectsMrs. Hockey® InviteJanuary 29 - February 1, 2021Charleston, SC12U Girls - Tier 1 & Tier 2
Premier Ice ProspectsMotor City Girls FestFebruary 5 - 7, 2021Detroit, MI19U through 10U Tier I
Premier Ice ProspectsPIPsJune 25-27, 2021Rochester, NY2007 thru 2010 Birth Years Tier I (AAA)
Premier Ice ProspectsLabor Day Girls FestSeptember 3 - 5, 2021Pittsburgh, PA14U, 16U/17U and 19U Tier I (AAA)/Canadian AA
Premier Ice ProspectsRoc City Girls FestNovember 5 - 7, 2021Rochester, NY19U through 10U Tier I (AAA), Tier II (AA), Tier III (A)
Premier Ice ProspectsBurgh Thanksgiving Girls FestNovemberPittsburgh, PA19U through 10U Tier I (AAA), Tier II (AA), Tier III (A)
Premier Ice ProspectsErie White Out WeekendDecember 17 - 19, 2021Erie, PA12U and 10U Tier I (AAA), Tier II (AA)
RUSH HockeyRUSH COLLEGE SHOWCASEJune 3rd-6th, 2021CAA Centre BramptonBrampton, ON
RUSH HockeyRUSH RISING STARS PRE-COLLEGE SHOWCASEJune 3rd-6th, 2021CAA Centre BramptonBrampton, ON
RUSH HockeyRUSH ATOMIC CHALLENGEJune 4th-6th, 2021CAA Centre BramptonBrampton, ON
RUSH HockeyBEANTOWN CLASSICJuly 16th-18th, 2021New England Sports CenterMarlborough, MA
RUSH HockeyBEANTOWN CLASSICJuly 23rd-25th, 2021New England Sports CenterMarlborough, MA
Showcase Hockey2021 Showdown AAAJune 11-13, 2021Minnesota
Big Bear TournamentsCherry Blossom ShowdownMay 21 - 23, 2021Washington, DCSquirt thru Midget / High School
Big Bear TournamentsBig ThawFeb. 26 - 28, 2021Ann Arbor, MISquirt - Midget / High School
Big Bear TournamentsRing of FireMay 7 - 9, 2021Ann Arbor, MISquirt - Midget / High School
200x85 TournamentsCCM CHI-TOWN SHUFFLEJune 11-13, 2021Chicago, ILGirls Tier 1/Tier 2 (12U, 14U, 16U, 19U)
200x85 TournamentsCCM WORLD INVITE BOYS/GIRLS DALLASOctober 9-11, 2021Dallas, TXTier 1 & 2 – G12U, G14U, G16U, G19U
200x85 TournamentsCCM GIRLS WORLD INVITE DETROITNovember 12-14, 2021Detroit, MITier 1 – G12U, G14U, G16U, G19U
200x85 TournamentsCCM GIRLS WINDY CITY ELITE – CHICAGODecember 3-5, 2021Chicago, ILTier 1 – G12U, G14U, G16U, G19U
200x85 TournamentsCCM Girls 68 (14U)August 12-15, 2021Chicago, IL2007 Birthyear
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Development Camp Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

What percent of D1 women’s college hockey commits come from Canada vs. the U.S.?

What percent of players of D1 women’s college commits come from Canada vs. the U.S. and why does it matter?  Well, as I talk to my 14 year-old daughter about potentially playing Division I women’s college hockey, it’s important for her to understand who she is competing with.

In analyzing College Hockey Inc’s published list of women’s college hockey commits, recognizing that the pool of players is from all of North America is important to know. As you can see below, almost 1/3rd of all Division I players are from Canada.

So, how good do you need to be to play Division I women’s college hockey?

There are 41 Division I college women’s hockey teams.  Assuming 22 players on each team, with 25% graduating every year, then there should be about 225 openings each year (assuming no DIII transfers to DI). With ~32% percent of players coming from Canada, that means a player needs to be one of the best 150 players in the U.S. for their graduation year. Drilling down a little more, at the position level, it means a player needs to be one of the best 25 players at their position. And if your goal is to play for a Top 25 team it means you basically need to be on of the best 15 players in the U.S. at your position.

It is also important to note that a large majority of Canadian players go to the top 25 schools, otherwise they could easily stay in Canada and be closer to home. For example they could play for Julie Chu or Caroline Ouellette at Concordia University. So the competition for these top school is probably a little higher from Canadian players, thus lower the number spots for U.S. players at these schools.

How do you know how good a player is compare to their peers?

Feedback from Coaches

Obviously, the best way to understand if a player is one of the top 15 players at their position is no easy task, even for the best college coaches who travel the country at tournaments and showcases to find recruits. Having several coaches provide feedback to the player and parents from these top schools is probably a good proxy.

National Camps

Another way, is through the USA Hockey National Player Development Camps that are held each non-Covid summer. If a player is invited to the U18, then there is a pretty good chance that they are in the Top 15 for their position. If a player is invited to the girls camp for their age group they are certainly in the running, but they would need to see how they compare to their peers and listen to the feedback at the end of the week.

Level of Recruiting Interest from Top Schools

Finally, and probably the most important way to know how good a player is during non-Covid times, is to see the level of interest from women’s college hockey recruiter as they start U16 hockey. By attending camps, tournaments & showcases and meeting coaches from all types of schools, a player and their parents can gage the level of interest from Top 25 schools as they progress from their sophomore, junior and senior years.

Implications for U.S. Players

If a player has hopes and dreams to play for a Division I women’s college hockey team, they need to understand that they are competing with the top players in North America. Given the large number of girls AAA and prep schools (>250 clubs/schools), being one of the top 15 players in the U.S (or top 25 in North America) at your position. is roughly where the bar is set.

This post is part of series on 5 Insights about Women’s College Hockey Commits:

  1. What percent of D1 women’s hockey commits come from Canada vs. the U.S.?
  2. Which U.S. clubs/schools are the biggest D1 college hockey factories?
  3. Which D1 colleges have the most commits?
  4. Which colleges have the earliest player commitments?
Categories
Development Camp Girl's Showcase

5 Things I Learned Attending Our First Girl’s Showcase

Premier Ice Prospects

This past weekend, my 14 year old daughter and I flew to Rochester, New York to attend the Premier Ice Prospects girls showcase event.  It was the first time my daughter has attended this type of weekend and also her first time playing with girls. Since the whole experience was new to us, I thought I write up some of my learnings for other parents who are also being initiated into the women’s college recruiting process.

During the weekend there were 3 practices and 4 controlled scrimmages (since games are not yet allowed in NY) all run by Division III coaches since there is still a blackout period for Division I coaches, and thus not allowed to attend.  From what I could tell, there were girls from at least 12 different clubs with the biggest presence from the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite and the local Selects Academy.

Here is what I learned…

1. College Coaches are Experts at Evaluating Players

I was impressed at how efficiently the coaches were able to get a read on my daughter’s strengths and weaknesses.  From the spectator side of things,  on several occasion I saw one of the coaches giving feedback to my daughter.  When I asked her about what the coaches said, it was pretty consistent with the direction she has previously heard from this past season.  Thus, it became clear to me that over the course of a weekend-long evaluation it would be pretty hard to fool a college coach about what you can and can’t do on the ice.

2. It’s Hard to Compare Players at these Events

One of my hopes for the weekend was to learn how good a hockey player my daughter is.  However, this wasn’t as easy as I thought. Given that the age of high school players in attendance ranged from 14 to 18 years old, in many ways it became a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison. Especially since I didn’t have a list of names and ages to go with the other participants. For example, there was one girl who I thought was the best defensemen during the weekend. When I asked my daughter about her, she told me she was 18 years old. So it was hard to really compare my daughter to someone almost 4 years older than her. Next time, I would try to get direct feedback from the coaches to see how she rates for her age group.

3. There was a big standard deviation between players

Even though it was hard for me compare my daughter to her direct peer group, I was still able to see big differences between the top players and the weaker players.  Almost all the players had some key strength that was on display, but as I watched more and more shifts it became clearer which girls were able to consistently make good plays and decisions. On the other hand, several struggled create offense or keep the puck out of their net on regular basis.

4. The Importance of U16 vs U19

Binoculars

I got to speak to some coaches at the event, and l didn’t realize the somewhat greater importance on the U16 years over the U19 years with respect to the recruiting process.  Since the Division I conversations starts at the end of a player’s sophomore year they are being watch heavily during their U16 years and in many cases have already committed by the time they play U19.

5. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

I was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming the girls at the hockey showcase were. As I mentioned earlier, this was the first real time my daughter was playing with other girls. Unlike the boys teams that she has been playing on recently, the positive attitude and sincere effort to create relationships with other players was very noticeable. While still competitive on the ice during play, it was very nice to see the difference in wanting to create personal bonds with other players in between the on-ice activities.

Hopefully these learnings are helpful to other new-to-the process parents like me. I look forward to attending more of these events and accelerate up the learning curve as a hockey parent.