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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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Girls Hockey Parents Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

What are the pros and cons of girls playing boys hockey?

As part of Jocelyn and Monique Lamoureux’s book release, they did a ton of promotion including several podcasts. On one them they Jocelyn Lamoureux mentioned her masters thesis “Should Girls Play Hockey With Boys? Perspectives From The USA Women’s Olympic Hockey Team“. For the past several years I have heard many points of view on girls playing boys hockey with some consistent recommendations (mostly “play with the boys as long as you can”). But this was the first time I heard of actual research on the subject. By soliciting data directly from US National Team players, Lamoureux was able to codify the tradeoffs and benefits from choosing to play with boys for a significant portion of their time in youth hockey.

Lamoureux’s conclusion was pretty unanimous: “Out of 15 players, 15 of them recommended that girl’s play with boys, but one player said yes and no depending on what the goals were of the individual playing.”  This doesn’t mean that playing girls-only hockey won’t get you to the national team, it just discusses how playing with the boys helped those that did play with boys. What the research doesn’t cover is if the path to the U.S. National Team is possible from only playing with girls. Thus, if a female player wants to make the national team, they would likely need to ensure that they are still developing the same sets of skills that Lamoureux’s research concluded was key to player success achieved through playing boys hockey.

Based on the research, some additional information I have collected from podcast interviews and my parental experience, here are some thoughts on the key factors for girls playing boys hockey:

Skill Development:  

By playing with boys, girls are likely to develop better key priority hockey skills via several contributing factors:

  • Ice time
  • Level of competition
    • There is some research which shows that during practice boys compete harder and for a longer period of time
    • Playing boys hockey provides more options for a female player to find a team whose skill level is at the right level for the player
  • Coaching
    • In my conversations with former female players, coaches and club directors, the consensus is that “on average” top boys club teams tend to have better coaching in minor hockey. While this is certainly changing and improving on a region-by-region basis, girls coaching is not yet at parity with the boys especially at the early age groups.
girls playing boys hockey

Safety of the Player:

USA Hockey recommends that girls should stop playing with boys when, due to size or speed, the player would be at risk of injury due to full-contact checking.  Not all girls are big enough or have the confidence to play with boys once the boys have hit puberty.  Each player must decide for themselves how long they are comfortable playing with boys from a safety perspective.

Social Development and Team Culture:

From my experience, there is no doubt that the social dynamics for a girl playing with boys is very different than on an all-girls team.  However, the culture on each boy’s team is different and the experience can be both positive and negative from a social development perspective. It really depends on the leadership of the coaching staff and the personalities of the players in the locker room. 

During my conversation with female college coaches who played with boys growing up, they consistently said that the boys on their team treated them pretty well. However, verbal taunts and occasionally “getting run at” by players on the other team was pretty common. So, a female player should be prepared and comfortable with those risks.

College Recruiting:

As noted in a previous post, it is rare for a female player to play college hockey while only playing on boys club or high school teams (other than at national development camps).  So clearly from a recruiting perspective, there is a significant benefit to being scouted by college teams. Coaches rarely attend boys events to watch a single female player.  The advice I have heard from several college coaches is a hybrid, where a female player can play on a boys team as their primary winter season team and either play girls during spring/summer tournaments or, if permitted, double roster on a girls team during the regular season (e.g. play girls AAA and boys high school).

Playing with boys helps, but it is a personal decision

In conclusion, playing on a boy’s team during key developmental minor hockey years appears to provide all the right ingredients for girls to reach their full potential as a hockey player. Depending on where you live, playing with boys could help develop their skills and knowledge of the game more than just playing on the local girl’s team. However, this does not in any way discount that girls can likely achieve the same level of development and success by finding substitute methods of achieving these same skills and knowledge by growing up playing with girls only.

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Girls Hockey Minor Hockey Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey Youth Hockey

Comparing U.S. and Canadian Female Hockey Participation

I was doing some research over the holidays to understand the state of women’s hockey in North America and found a few interesting insights between the U.S. and Canadian female hockey participation and coaching at the university level.  Here they are:

Overall Female Participation

1. Total hockey participation is about 8% more in Canada over the U.S., but female participation in Canada is 21% more than in the U.S.

Male to Female Participation

2. The ratio of Male to Female hockey players in the U.S. is ~6:1. In other words, female hockey players only make up 15% of all players in the U.S. While in Canada the ratio is ~5:1 while female players represent 17% of all players in Canada.

Under 18 Girls in Canada vs U.S.A.

3. While female hockey players in both the U.S. and Canada grew by a little more than 2% in 2019-20 (compared to male player which had declines in both countries), there are still about 25% more female players under 18 in Canada compared to the U.S.

Female U.S. Division I Women’s Hockey Coaches

4. Only 33% of U.S. Division I women’s hockey coaches are female, while 67% of their assistant/associate coaches are female

Female Canadian U Sports Women’s Hockey Coaches

5. 46% of U Sports Head Coaches in Canada are women while 54% of their Assistant/Associates Coaches are female.

Here is my interpretation of the data:

  1. The U.S. still has some work to do to catch up to Canada on female participation in the sport. “Girls Give Hockey a Try” is a phenomenal start, but I think there is even more that can be done.
  2. I suspect it will take a major change in one of the countries development programs before one will be the dominant hockey power. Due to density issues in the States with less players distributed in more metropolitan areas than Canada, it would take a significant commitment/investment to build a sizeable lead over Canada.
  3. I was expecting to see more female head coaches in both Canada and the U.S.. However, given the male to female ratio of participation in both countries, the male coaching advantage in women’s college hockey is not a complete surprise. I would suspect that these numbers will flip to favor female head coaches over the coming years as they are given more opportunity and the recent generation of women players move into and up the coaching ranks.

Sources: USA Hockey 2019-20 Registration Report, Hockey Canada 2019-20 Annual Report and Champs App analysis.

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Parents Women's Hockey Youth Hockey

How to Develop a Great Hockey Player

What does it take as a hockey parent to help your player become truly elite? So, the reality is I don’t really know from first-hand experience just yet how to develop a great hockey player. In addition, it also really depends on what your definition of “great” is. But I do feel that I have figured out a few things so far as a hockey parent who was watched not only his kids go make it halfway through U14 (aka Bantam) hockey.  This series of posts will discuss five different factors that in my opinion contribute to becoming an above average hockey player. While I haven’t gone through it just yet with my kids, from everything I can tell is that the major separation of the top 10% of players really comes at the midget age level and above. 

Hockey is a Late Development Sport

While I haven’t gone through it just yet with my kids, from everything I can tell is that the major separation of the top 10% of players really comes at the midget age level and above.  There are lots of books and podcasts which discuss hockey being a late development sport (unlike early development sports like gymnastics and figure skating).

The best current example I have seen so far is Brendan Brisson, an incoming freshman at University of Michigan, who was recently a first round draft pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2020 NHL Draft.  While it is clear he was always an elite player, playing AAA youth hockey with the Los Angeles Jr Kings, when you look at his stats from when he was 13, 14, and 15 years old, he was not even in the top 3 or 4 on most of his teams in scoring, let alone the division he played in. He averaged less than 0.5 points per game in each of those years. It was only in his second year of Shattuck St. Mary’s and then continuing on when playing for the Chicago Steel in juniors did his point totals go exponential. This shows you how much a player can develop AFTER they turn 15.

Many Kids Peak Too Early

Recently former NHLer turned parent coach, Patrick O’Sullivan wrote a couple of tweets how size and speed early in a player’s youth hockey career can actually work against them, as it is too easy for them to score goals at 10U (Squirts/Atom) and 12U (Peewee) by just leveraging these assets.

However, as other kids catch up to them in both size and speed, these early bloomers didn’t develop the other attributes needed to maintain that dominance. I have seen this myself on both my kids teams and players on other teams they play. There is almost always a very high correlation to the leading scorers and how much bigger they are than the other team.  This is especially noticeable when watching the finals of the AAA Quebec Peewee tournament. Even from just watching video, it is pretty easy to see that the best teams have the most kids that have already gone through their growth spurts. Of course these kids also have skill, but what helps separate them is their size and/or speed at 12 years old.

The Long Road of Development

To use a cliché (well, this is a hockey-related post, so I’ll allow it), hockey development is “a marathon not a sprint.”  Recognizing that most important development happens at 15 and older, you still need a solid base to build from just to get the opportunity to accelerate when you get there.

For the Love of the Game

In the next post I will discuss what the first factor, which I also believe is the ante, for becoming a great hockey player: a love for the game. I will also try to dimensionlize what that love looks like.

This post is the first in a series on How to Develop a Great Hockey Player (Intro).

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Girls Hockey Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Which DI women’s college hockey programs have the earliest player commitments?

In May, 2019, the NCAA introduced new recruiting rules which restricted college recruiting to only allow verbal commitments to start August 1st of a player’s Junior year. This fundamentally changed the timeline for women’s college hockey recruits.  We looked at almost 550 Division I college hockey commitment dates that are posted on the College Hockey Inc’s women’s college hockey commits web page. As you can see, the impact of the new rule has been dramatic.

Some interesting insights:

  • Five prominent schools (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Dartmouth, Princeton, Clarkson) have not had any publicly announced commitments since the new NCAA rules were implemented in May, 2019
  • The days-before-starting-school commitment days have been halved since the new NCAA recruiting rules were implements (1113 before, 553 after). Which essentially means the average player’s commitment has moved from mid-February of their Junior Year, to Mid-August of Sophomore Year
  • Before the new rules were implemented, Wisconsin women’s hockey players committed on average 4 years prior to starting at U of W
  • Currently, only 5 school average less than a year for their commits – 294 days (St. Lawrence University, RIT, Sacred Heart University, Post University Lindenwood University)

Now: Here are the Top 10 schools that are the most aggressive to sign recruits (since the new rules were implemented):

Before: Top 10 School who used to sign the earliest commits prior to the rule changes:

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 women’s hockey commits?
  4. Which colleges have the earliest player commitments?
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Girls Hockey Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Which Division I colleges have the most women’s hockey commits?

This post is part of series on 5 Insights about Women’s College Hockey Commits.  As described in the methodology, please note that this data is incomplete since it is not from an official NCAA women’s college hockey commitment source. College Hockey Inc. does not list their sources, which we can only assume are from public announcements (via personal Twitter accounts or team websites). So which DI women’s hockey schools have the most commits?

Division Commits By School

Division I colleges most women’s hockey commits

Some interesting insights:

  • Top 3 colleges are Ivy League schools (Brown, Cornell, Yale)
  • The average number of commits is ~13 across all 41 DI schools
  • The bottom 10 schools average ~8 commits

Here are the outstanding questions:

Candidly, we don’t really know how to fully interpret most of this data.

  1. Why are there so few commits for the “traditionally” weaker Division I teams?
  2. Why doesn’t Harvard have more commits?
  3. What percent of school commits are never publicly announced?
  4. Why is Brown University tied for first given they have not been a powerhouse school? Is it primarily because of the academics and/or location?
  5. St Cloud St also seems like an outlier given that they are consistently a Top 25 team

Over the coming year I hope to get some insights and will post my learnings and link those findings back to this analysis.

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
Girls Hockey Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Which Girl’s Hockey Programs Produce the Most D1 Women’s College Hockey Commits?

If you want to know which girl’s hockey clubs or schools produce the most DI women’s college hockey commits, here is your answer:

Top-25-Clubs-or-Schools-for-Div-I-Womens-Hockey-College-Commits

We looked at 526 college hockey commits that are posted on the College Hockey Inc’s women’s college hockey commits web page starting with the 2020 academic year and beyond.  There were 94 programs that produced at least 2 DI commits, but the Top 25 represented about 50% of all the commits.  And the Top 50 represented about 75% of all the committed players. So, while there is a long tail of places a player can come from, the significant majority are recruited from some of the most well-known girls hockey organizations.

Not surprisingly, Shattuck St. Mary’s Girls Prep is at the top of the list, followed closely by Chicago Mission and Selects Academy.

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?

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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
Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

5 Insights about Women’s College Hockey Commits

As a parent of a 14-year old girl hockey player who has only played with boys, we are trying to figure out her best path to playing Division I college hockey. However, there is no playbook that is given to parents or players on how follow the process. In fact, from talking to several coaches, each player’s journey is unique. However, if you live in a non-traditional girl’s hockey market like we do, the route can be even more complex.

NCAA Women's Ice Hockey

As we look to decide when and where she play girls hockey for both development and recruiting purposes, I thought I would see what data already exists to help guide our decisions.

Insight #1 – Less than 0.3% of Women’s College Hockey Commits only played boys hockey

In my research, I have only found two female players who only played on boys teams for their club or school teams prior to college.  And this is after looking into about 1000 Division I college players or commits.  Those two players were Dominique Petrie, who only played AAA Boys hockey in California before attending Harvard. And a goalie from Alaska, Hannah Hogenson prior to attending Bemidji State. 

College Hockey Inc

Additional Questions to be Answered

In my upcoming posts I will answering the following questions:

  1. What percent of D1 women’s hockey commits come from Canada vs. the U.S.?
  2. Which U.S. programs are the biggest D1 college hockey factories?
  3. Which D1 colleges have the most commits?
  4. Which colleges have the earliest player commitments?

It’s all about the data

Before these posts are published, I want to make sure the sources of the information are documented and the limitations of the data is clearly defined.

NCAA Women's Ice Hockey

Data Sources:

  1. Nearly all of the data provided is from College Hockey Inc’s published page on Women’s College Commits.
  2. Secondary information is from Elite Prospects which was used to supplement missing club/school information for some players.
  3. The period covers 8/20/16 until 10/21/20 for players who are committed for the 2020 season and later.

Data Integrity:

  1. The data on Women’s College Commits website may not be complete and likely does not include all D1 commits
  2. If a team/club was not listed, I referenced eliteprospects.com for additional information. Thank you to Beau Marchwick who populates most of the girls hockey data and stats.
  3. A player’s designated club/school is chosen based on the commitment date. If a player played on both a school and a club team, then the club or school with which the player was playing on longer was selected (because they were responsible for developing the player for a longer period of time).
  4. For time period calculations, we assumed Sept. 1st as the start of the college academic year to calculate the number of days from the date of commitment.
  5. The analysis does not include any U.S. Division III or Canadian University Sports commits.

This post is part I of a 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?
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Coaching hockey Parents Podcast Women's Hockey Youth Hockey

#1 – The Hockey Think Tank Podcast

Top 10 Podcasts for Girl Hockey Players (and their Parents)

When the The Minor Hockey podcast was cancelled by TSN Radio a couple of years ago I was very disappointed and was searching high and low for another youth hockey podcast. Almost immediately I stumbled upon The Hockey Think Tank’s fifth episode with Kendall Coyne Schofield (before she appeared in the 2019 All Star Game). Since then I have been one of their biggest fans and making sure my kids listen to their podcast in the car when we are driving to the rink. Topher Scott and Jeff Lovechio are former players who both now coach youth hockey. They are both positive, likeable, sincere & knowledgeable and their guests are spectacular. 

Girls Hockey Talk

When they do have a female hockey player on the show there is always a nugget or two I get from the episode specific to the girl’s game. Alyssa Gagliardi was a guest who provided good insight on her hockey journey starting with boys hockey all the way to the U.S. Olympic team.  This past summer, in collaboration with the PWHPA HTT had a series of shows and online programming specific go the women’s game. Interviews included Hockey Hall of Famer Jayna Hefford and University of Minnesota-Duluth women’s head coach Maura Crowell.

Must-Listen for Parents

One of the best parts of the Hockey Think Tank are the discussions about what a successful hockey journey looks like for most kids from youth all the way to the pros. It usually isn’t a straight line.  So many of the guests discuss the struggles they faced and the grit they had to have to make it.  Most parents can relate to not having an ‘early-bloomer’ player and how to navigate the bumpy road by focusing on player development versus wins.  Guests like Patrick O’Sullivan and Martin St Louis discuss being youth hockey coaches and what really matters in player development from 8-18 years of age – which is different from what most coaches practice and preach.

Recently, The Hockey Think Tank published their Parent Survival Guide. It is an excellent resource for hockey parents who want the straight goods about navigating the complex world to from youth to junior to college hockey. While it primarily focuses on the path that boys take, many of the principles apply to women’s hockey (without the extra step of junior hockey between high school and college).

If you are going to listen to only one podcast as a youth hockey player or parent, The Hockey Think Tank is the one we would recommend.

This post is part of a series of blogs on the Top 10 Podcasts for Girl Hockey Players (and their Parents). You can read the background on this list from the start of this series.

Previous Podcasts on the Top 10 List:

#10 – Hockey Training: Become a Better Hockey Player Podcast

#9 – From the Point Women’s Hockey Podcast

#8 – The Lyndsey Fry Hockey Audio Experience

#7 – Let’s Go! Hockey Podcast

#6 – Over the Goal Line: A CUWIH Podcast

#5 – The Curious Competitor with Connor Carrick

#4 – Glass and Out Podcast by The Coaches Site

#3 – Grassroots: The Minor Hockey Show

#2 – RUSH Hockey Talk