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Champs Coach of the day Girls Hockey Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Today’s Coach of The Day: Alyssa Gagliardi

Alyssa Gagliardi

Our first Coach of the Day is Alyssa Gagliardi. Alyssa is the Director of Women’s Student-Athlete Advancement with the Carolina Junior Hurricanes Girls program. Previously, Alyssa was a USA National team player, a co-captain at Cornell University and she won the Isobel Cup with the Boston Pride. Check out Alyssa’s Champs App profile.

Create a player profile and connect with Alyssa on Champs App.

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Champ of the day Champs Girls Hockey Women's Hockey

Today’s Champ of The Day: Taryn Pratt

April 26, 2022

Taryn Pratt –
Northern Michigan K-Stars

Today’s Champ of the Day is Taryn Pratt. Check out Taryn Pratt’s Hockey Player Profile here

Taryn is a very competitive team player that plays a very physical two way game.

Taryn Pratt – Faceoff

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Champ of the day Champs Girls Hockey Women's Hockey

Today’s Champ of The Day: Anna Byczek

April 19, 2022

Anna Byczek –
Marquette Boy’s Varsity Hockey

Today’s Champ of the Day is Anna Byczek. Check out Anna Byczek’s Hockey Goalie profile here

Anna can often be heard saying, “my goal is just to continue to get better.” She has played boys hockey for years and also played intermittently with girls above her own age level, with the hope of pushing herself. Anna is extremely poised and maintains great composure on and off the ice.

  Create your own free, beautiful hockey player profile here.

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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.

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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
Women's Hockey

Champs App Directory

Vivian Skibinksi

Corsica Skibinski

Maxim Myagkov

Paz Hassan-Contreras

Jersey Graham

Molly Dukesherer

Anna Byczek

Karolina Sykorova

Oceane Asham

Samantha Sada

Peyton Tully

Teagan Devlin

Brianna Robinson

Eva Macci

Sydney Schuler

Ben Kevan

Jackson Tenenbaum

Lucie Tenenbaum

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Champ of the day Champs Girls Hockey Women's Hockey

Today’s Champ of The Day: Jersey Graham

March 28,2022

Jersey Graham – U16 Girls Alaska All-Stars

Today’s Champ of the Day is Jersey Graham. Check out Jersey Graham’s Hockey Goalie profile here

Jersey is a 2006 Goalie who plays for the U16 Girls AAA Alaska All-Stars. She is a hard working hybrid goalie with very good athleticism. Jersey plays angles well and never gives up on a play. She has great vision and quick hands.  Create your own free, beautiful hockey player profile here.

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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)
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Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Why stop at 11?

Note: I wrote the first draft of this post before the NCAA announced they would expand the number of teams for the Women’s Ice hockey tournament from eight to eleven in either 2022 or 2023.  While I applaud the NCAA for the decision and understand why they would increase the % of teams that qualify to match the men’s side at 27% of teams qualify, my thoughts below still stand. I also want to emphasize that I realize it is operationally complicated and expensive to have more teams qualify, but that should not stop the initiative to find creative ways to make this a win-win for the NCAA and women’s ice hockey.

Last weekend I was asked by one of the DI women’s college hockey teams to share the Close the Gap graphic on our social media accounts.  However, when it comes to this kind of stuff, I like to be educated on the topic. I had just skimmed through the Kaplan Hecker & Fink report the night before and rather than just re-post what everyone else has done, I thought I would share my 2 cents on the topic. These opinions are based on what I’ve learned over the last year about women’s college hockey, but also my 20+ years working with startups and high growth products.

Let me explain, one of things I have seen firsthand over the last year in-person and via USA Hockey and Hockey Canada data is that Women’s Hockey is a fast growing sport and is very similar to a startup. And startups should not be treated the same way from a business perspective as a highly profitable large corporation.  With this as background, let me share 5 opinions on the matter. I put the simple hockey recommendation first and the business ones later, since they are a little more complicated to explain.

1. Why not 14 or 16 teams?

Let’s start with the fact that I don’t really understand how teams are selected for the women’s NCAA ice hockey playoffs. However, what I do know is that last year it didn’t seem like the actual Top 8 pairwise teams in the country were the ones who were selected for the tournament. Specifically, definitely Minnesota and probably Clarkson should have been there.

As much as 11 or 12 sounds like a good number, why couldn’t it be 14 or 16 teams tha.t qualify for the NCAA playoffs?  From my analysis, there is only a small standard deviation between teams that are ranked from about 7-16. Specifically, the expected goal differential between any of those teams would likely be about 1.2. In other words, about 80% of the games between these teams would on-average be determine by only 1-goal – which should make for some pretty exciting games.

I don’t want to go through all the possible ways to make it work, but having 2-4 regional play-in games would seem to promote excitement and engagement. This would be in addition to 6-8 teams getting ‘byes’ straight to the “quarter finals”.  These extra play-in games would not dilute the process and give teams a chance to feel what it’s like to be in the NCAA tournament. I don’t think Women’s College Ice Hockey should just look for parity with the Men’s programs – instead. they should do what’s right for their own sport – and 14 or 16 seems like the right number to me. (By the way, I think the same logic could easily apply to the men’s side of things as well).

2. Women’s College Hockey could be a Star

In business there is a famous slide called the BCG Matrix which describes where a business stands relative to other businesses on two dimensions:  growth and relative market share. In the case of the NCAA, market share would be total college sports revenue. In business terms, football and men’s basketball are Cash Cows – generate tons of $, but are low growth sports.  However, Women’s Ice Hockey while not yet a big money-maker, is high growth.  They would be in the top right quadrant and currently be considered a ‘?’ as a business. In many large corporations, small businesses that are Question Marks can be underfunded and de-prioritized as the Cash Cows get all the resources and attention to keep shareholders happy (sound familiar?). However, this can be short-term thinking because the future may actually be in one of the small ideas that grow to dwarfing the incumbent businesses. All you need to do is to think of how the iPod started out as a teeny business for Apple relative to their Mac business, but then it became the dominant product leading to the iPhone and iPad.  For the NCAA, the future might be in one of these women’s sports – especially women’s ice hockey. This leads into my next point…

3. Dollar Spent Per Student Athlete should be higher for Women’s Ice Hockey than Men’s Ice Hockey

This seems counter-intuitive but hear me out.  Women’s College Ice Hockey should be treated like a startup.  And startups over-invest during their early years to grow their products and brands until they hit scale.  All you have to do is look at how Amazon lost money for years until they achieved scale in their core business.  Keep reading below for the business rationale for investing in startups.

Now, this does not mean just throwing money at the sport. I think one of the best recommendations in the KHF Report is to find ways to combine both the Mens and Women’s National Championship events together. This way you can spread the fixed costs over a larger base, and even better, you can use bundling to promote both sports (e.g. sell ticket packs for both sports).  Many companies and events (like the Olympics) use bundling as a way to help underfunded offerings get more distribution and customers.

4. Show me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the NCAA designed a perfect system to achieve the results they produced – which was significantly under-funding certain women’s sports relative to the higher revenue generating male equivalent sports.  When you read the Phase II report, many of their recommendations focus on changing the mindset, processes and people who make the key decisions about these sports. It was quite evident that there has been no incentive for the NCAA to prioritize gender-equity allocation of resources, investments and  media attention. Since there was no incentive, their only goal appears to have been “profit maximization” and that what was rewarded.  However, NCAA is not just about making money, they are about promoting sports and student-athletes across all their sports – not just the ones that currently make the most money. In this case, introduce the sport to fans who already have an interest in men’s hockey.

5. Women’s Ice Hockey should have its own vision for where it wants to go by developing a “Grow the Game” Playbook

Women’s Ice Hockey shouldn’t depend on the NCAA to figure out the secret sauce for building a large, loyal fanbase. They need to take ownership for the success of their own sport themselves.

I have learned over the past year is that there is a wide range of marketing and social media savviness across the DI women’s college hockey programs.  I am also assuming this translates into local marketing for their teams and building their fanbase – as seen by a wide range in attendance at regular season and playoff games (and obviously Covid has had a big impact in this stuff recently).  But there should be some type of committee created (if there isn’t one already) that brings together some of the best practices from the most successful programs for selling the sport and putting on big women’s hockey events.  These programs know their customers better than anyone else and should be leading the charge on what works and what doesn’t with this customer segment. With additional funding and proven, creative ideas the sport can really be taken to a new level.

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)