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2023 2024 Coaching Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Tracking Progress: The Evolution of Female Coaching Representation in NCAA DI Women’s Hockey

Back in 2020, when Champs App first started, we tracked the female representation in the coaching staffs at NCAA DI and U Sports women’s hockey.  Now, 3 years later, it is time to compare how the number of female coaches has changed during this time.

Over the past three years, there has been a notable increase in the representation of female head coaches within Division I women’s college hockey teams. In the 2020-21 season, female head coaches accounted for 14 out of 41 total coaching positions, comprising 34% of the total coaching cohort. However, by the 2023-24 season, this number has risen significantly, with 21 female head coaches out of a total of 44 coaching positions, representing an increase to 48%. This upward trend highlights a positive shift towards greater gender diversity and inclusivity within the coaching landscape of women’s college hockey, indicating a growing recognition of the value and expertise that female coaches bring to the sport.

While the ideal number is probably not 100% for female head coaches at the NCAA women’s DI level, it is nice to see the numbers continue to climb. Having spoken to so many male DI women’s coaches, it is clear that in most cases they are doing a great job in their roles. However, the much bigger opportunity is in increasing the number of female coaches on the men’s side of the game, where female coaches still represent significantly less than 1% at the men’s college level.  There have been inroads made over the last few years, with NCAA DI head coaches participating in NHL development camps. This season, Kim Weiss is an assistant with DIII Trinity and Jessica Campbell is an assistant coach with the AHL Coachella Valley Firebirds. But when it comes to full-time roles, I am still waiting to hear about female coaches even being considered for a DI or DIII men’s team head coaching job. 

From 2020 to 2023, there has also been a significant increase in the number of assistant or associate head coaches in NCAA Division I women’s hockey teams due to teams now being permitted 3 assistants. In the 2020-21 season, female assistant or associate head coaches accounted for 52 out of a total of 79 coaching positions, representing 66% of the coaching cohort. This number has seen a significant rise by the 2023-24 season, with 65 female coaches out of a total of 98 coaching positions, equaling the same 66% of the coaching staff. Conversely, the number of male assistant or associate head coaches also increased from 27 to 33 during this period, but their overall proportion remained constant.

During the time there has been significant increases in female coaches at the NCAA DI women’s hockey level for both head & assistant coaches, there has been no change in the number of female coaches in Canada U Sports women’s hockey. In fact U.S. teams surpassed Canadian schools in terms in percent female representation. Note: no data was collected for U Sports assistants back in 2020

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2024 Development Camp Women's Hockey

Why U18 National Teams Shouldn’t Only Have Offensive Defenders on their Roster

Last week, I re-watched the Canada vs Czechia IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship semi-final game. Czechia won the game 4-2 after losing to Canada in the Group A game 8-1. I noticed that two of the Czechia goals were a direct result of major mistakes by the Canadian defenders. I then saw that the shots on goal were heavily in favor of the Canadians when the score was 3-2 at about 43-11 (ended up being 47-12 for Canada).

This got me thinking, how could Canada lose a game that they so clearly dominated in terms of offensive opportunities?

Two thoughts came to mind:

  1. Czechia did an amazing job learning from their group game with Canada and played a defensive structure which minimized Canada’s high risk chances. Czechia then capitalized on the few opportunities they had to score.
  2. Similar to my observations about the USA Hockey U18 selection process, Canada probably puts a bigger emphasis on fielding a team with offensive D than well-balanced defenders. As a result, a couple of defensive mistakes cost them the game.

This is just my hypothesis, I could be completely wrong.  And let me be clear, any player that makes the Canada or U.S. U18 teams are exceptional players.  They can all skate well, pass well and shoot well.  There is no doubt each of them deserved to be on the team. But maybe, they are too similar in their skill set?

When it comes to roster construction, sometimes you need to include one or two 200-foot players to complement the more offensive players.  Specifically, there are usually tradeoffs between a great puck handling D with a hard shot vs. someone who is technically better at 2-on-1s, clearing players in front of the net, playing the penalty kill or defending 1-on-1 zone entries.   An analogy would be having 7 Erik Karlssons playing defense for a single team – at some point in important games against good teams there will be times you need the D to keep the puck out of your own net.  Once again, this is not to say that those highly skilled U18 players aren’t good defenders, but when they go up against the top 2 or 3 forwards on a national team, they will also need to be technically strong on defense.

Let’s look at some data to support why I can understand how a coaching staff would  put together a roster with so much offensive power at the U18 level.

2023 IIHF U18 World Champsionship Shot Totals

Canada outshot their opponent by a 6:1 ratio throughout the tournament. They also had over 40 shots per game.  I would suspect they felt the team could outscore all opponents as long they didn’t have any major defensive hiccups. 

Of course, you are probably asking – weren’t they planning to play the U.S.?  Like all Canadian teams, they probably expected and planned to play the U.S.  at some point – likely in the gold medal game (given the new format of A/B group play this year, they wouldn’t play each other in group games).  So Canada would still need to be prepared to play a high-powered offensive USA Hockey team.

Then I looked at the shot total for the 2023 Under-18 Series which took place in Lake Place between the Canada and USA.  Team Canada swept all 3 games against the U.S. team by a combined score of 15-3.  Here were the shot totals:

uSA Canada u18 Summer Series SHot Totals

A couple of possible reasons for Canada to justify having highly offensive defenders… Either the felt they could still outscore Team USA and defend well enough to beat them.  Or, maybe their D were never tested enough in the USA-Canada Series to expose some of the technical weaknesses against world-class scorers.

So what?

During my experience attending and analyzing multiple USA Hockey camps/events, I have felt that the players being selected have had their offensive abilities overly weighted in the evaluation process.  Now, I am fully onboard with most of the high-end, offensive D being the ones being picked. However, including one or two defenders who can also keep the puck out of your own net at critical points of an important game can be the difference between winning and losing in the medal rounds.  Having a little more balance on the blue line could be the difference between winning and losing in big games.

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

The Importance of Player Experience on Team Success in DI Women’s Hockey

Over the past couple of years of tracking women’s DI hockey, I had a hypothesis that team success was highly correlated with the total experience (i.e. the numbers of years playing college hockey) of the players.  I thought of it like an equation:

Team Skills x Team Experience x Coaching = Team Success

Note:  This definition of Coaching includes all the resources and coaches (like strength & conditioning or video) associated with a program, not just the 3 or 4 primary team coaches. 

While Team Skills seemed intuitively the most important attribute, I hypothesized that Team Experience would be close behind.  However, the analysis I conducted shows that Team Experience is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for being a ranked team.  So, scoring high in all 3 attributes creates a powerhouse team. But, having a huge amount of Skills could still make up for a lack of Team Experience.

First let’s look at the data.  To normalize for the different roster sizes (since there is a range of 20 to 33 players across all 44 DI teams), only the oldest 21 players were included in the Team Experience calculation. This number was based on how many players typically dress for any single game.  And then assumes if any first-year players are on a large roster team, they must be playing like they have at least 1 year of experience. Since it is too time consuming to calculate the actual team experience by game, this seemed like a reasonable proxy.

Team Experience Rank

USCHO Top 15 Poll Rankings with Team Experience Data

on January 15, 2023

From the analysis, the teams seem to be segmented into 5 categories:

1. Doing well as expected

Clearly Ohio State has all the key ingredients needed for success.  The #2 most experienced team, lots of skill and one of the best coaching staffs in the country.

2. Doing well with an experienced roster

There are a few teams that appear to be peaking with experienced rosters. They also have some highly skilled players, but not as deep as the powerhouse teams. These include St Cloud State, Quinnipiac and Clarkson.

3. Doing well with an inexperienced roster

The most skilled teams tend to do well year-after-year.  These include Wisconsin, UMD and Minnesota.

4. Not doing well with an inexperienced roster

Some teams that have done well in the past, are not doing as well this year – likely due to having such a young set of players.  These include: Harvard, Vermont and Bemidji State.

5. Not doing well with an experienced roster

Without a deeper dive into the individual skill-level for each player on these teams, it’s hard to know exactly why they aren’t higher in the rankings.  But the following teams have a ton of experience, but haven’t been able to translate them into a Top 15 ranking: RPI, Syracuse and Merrimack

Estimating the Team Success Equation

The original hypothesis that Team Experience would contribute more than 1/3rd of the weighting to team success now seems too generous. Without doing a more rigorous statistical correlation (r-squared) analysis , it seems be more in the 1/5th range (plus or minus). This in turn implies the disproportionate importance of Team Skills regardless of experience.

Implications for Recruiting

If you are not going to a perennial powerhouse team (e.g. the top WCHA teams), incoming recruits should be aware of where the program they are joining. Which years are the current most-skilled players on the roster? If those top players will be graduating as you will be an incoming recruit joining the program, you should expect that it may take some time to rebuild the team.  At the same time, if the highly skilled players are in their first or second year, then a recruit could be part of the immediate success of the team.  Recruits should be aware of the risk that a team could peak then regress as they join the program.

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2023 2024 College Hockey Recruiting Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Insights and Implications on Recruiting from a Deep Dive of DI Women’s Hockey Rosters

During November and December, I spent a lot of time reviewing the current rosters of all the NCAA DI women’s hockey teams for goalies, forwards and defense. In addition, I re-booted the Champs App process for tracking commits to those schools.  While analyzing all of this data, I had several different observations about the recruiting process that I thought were worth sharing.

1. What are the Pros and Cons to Large Roster Sizes?

One of the key insights was the big standard deviation in roster sizes. There are 9 teams with 28 or more players listed. Based on my conversations with multiple coaches, this likely is due to the 5th year Covid  eligibility for many players.  And there are 6 teams with 23 or less players on their roster. Keep in mind that teams can only dress 20 or 21 (incl. 3 goalies) players for a game. This raises certain points…

  • From a coach’s perspective this gives them more players to choose from and thus the ability to field the best team available for any given game
  • My hypothesis, for which an analysis is coming soon, is that age & experience is highly correlated to success (in addition to talent, of course).  By being able to play the most experienced and talented players from a large roster likely shows up in the standings.
  • This also means coaches having to conduct multiple tough conversations each week to explain why a player will be healthy scratched
  • With only a maximum of 16 scholarships available to schools, many student-athletes are paying their own way to be on the team (and probably not getting much ice time, since schools tend to give the biggest scholarships to the best players). This is where the academics of a school become more important than your place on the roster. 
  • Given the above, I wasn’t too surprised to see several highly-touted first-year recruits at top programs that have been scratched for multiple games so far this season

2. Several 2022-23 Top 15 Teams are no Longer Top 15 Teams

  • Northeastern had been in the Top 15 since 2015, but did not break into the Top 15 ranking until this week. This is almost entirely due to them having lost their top players who contributed over 50% of their goal production from last season. Note: Northeastern still has 29 players on their roster
  • There are a couple of other schools who also have dropped out of the rankings this season. As an incoming recruit, you might need to adjust your expectations if you committed to a team that you expect to be competing for the Frozen Four every year, but now that school may not even make the NCAA playoffs.

3. Small Roster Analysis

  • It seemed odd that Penn State only has 21 players on their roster this season. So I took a deeper look.  Last year they had 23 student-athletes.  5 seniors graduated and 2 highly-talented juniors transferred (one to Ohio State and the other to Minnesota Duluth).  There are 2 first-year players and 3 seniors/grad students who transferred into PSU (from Colgate, New Hampshire and Long Island).  I can’t confirm, but I also think one player deferred to start in 2024 vs 2023.  I suspect the Penn State coaching staff didn’t expect two of their top players to transfer out of the school and that is why the roster is so small. This example shows the fluidity of which coaching staffs must manage their rosters going into the last year of 5th year Covid players and the transfer portal. It also shows that there could be late openings at the odd school come springtime.
  • Ohio State only has 6 D (but 24 rostered players).  Similar to Penn State, I took a deeper look into the OSU roster when I saw only 6 defenders listed. If there is an injury or two to Ohio State blue line this season they will be in trouble. They would likely have to move someone back from forward to play defense.   Last season there were 9 blueliners. 3 players graduated (including Patty Kazmaier winner Sophie Jacques), and 2 underclass players transferred to other schools (Colgate and Maine).  Coming in, two grad students transferred to the Buckeyes – Olympian Cayla Barnes (Boston College) and Stephanie Markowski (Clarkson) , both grad students. There are no freshman defenders in the 2023-24 class.  Once again I suspect the OSU coaching staff did not expect to lose 2 players to the transfer portal. What is interesting is that Sydney Morrow who did not get much ice time in the Frozen Four for the Buckeyes last season, is well over a point-per-game player at Colgate this season.  Based on our commit analysis, OSU is back to being focused on recruiting the top incoming players, with 13 commits in total for 2024 and 2025.

4. NEWHA Schools are the Last to Fill up Rosters

The New England Women’s Hockey Association (NEWHA) conference includes St Anselm, Long Island, Assumption, Stonehill, Post, Sacred Heart and St Michaels. It is pretty clear that the timeline for most of these schools to complete their rosters is later than most other conferences.  I know of at least two schools that were still trying to fill their 2024 rosters before the end of December 2023.  Only a few spots from NEWHA schools have been announced for 2025, while most of the top schools from other conferences are already filled.

5. Only U18 Players Need Apply

It was interesting to discover, but not a complete surprise, that multiple ranked schools only have commits that were U18 Girls National Camp players (Canada, USA or international) or better. I will go into more detail on the data and the implications on recruiting in an upcoming post.

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2024 College Hockey Recruiting Girls Hockey Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Analyzing the Defensive Lineups: The Current State of Division I Women’s College Hockey Recruiting for the Class of 2024 & 2025

Updated Dec. 21, 2023

This is the third of 3 posts about where things stand for each position – Goalies, Forwards and Defense – for the incoming classes of 2024 and 2025.

Read Part I of this series here: Navigating the Tight Goalie Market: The Current State of Division I Women’s College Hockey Recruiting for the Class of 2024 & 2025

Read Part II of this series here: Forward Recruits: The Current State of Division I Women’s College Hockey Recruiting for the Class of 2024 & 2025

Women’s DI College Hockey Total Defensive Players & Commits by Year

as of December, 2023

With 44 DI women’s ice hockey teams now in the NCAA, having 88 first-year D is pretty much exactly what you would expect if each team carries an average of 8 defenders on their roster. While there are some puts and takes (e.g. Assumption adding 7 freshmen D and 35 5th year/grad students) the 2023-24 season seemed to be an above-average recruiting class on defense. With the large number of current players with a 5th year of eligibility still available to them, it is likely that the incoming 2024 class will be small than this year’s group of D recruits.

Our current analysis shows that the Class of 2024 already has at least 74 commits – and we are likely missing a few European players from our list. Therefore, there are likely a small handful of spots still open or become available because of the transfer portal, but pretty much it seems the recruiting door for 2024 defenders has pretty much closed.

For the Class of 2025, only ~50 spots have been filled. With Delaware announcing their new DI team starting in the 2025-26 season there should be several spots available for that team. In addition, there are certainly some openings on several other teams and certainly most of the NEWHA schools – with only 4 roster spots publicly announced across those 8 teams.

Women’s DI College Hockey Defense and Commits by School & Year

as of December, 2023

A few quick thoughts:

  • Ohio State and Bemidji State only have 6 defenders listed on their roster. Would be interesting to see how they would handle not having 1 or 2 of them for a period of time (injury, playing on national teams). Clearly a F would need to move back to help out, but that would still likely have the team at a disadvantage.
  • 11 teams have 9 or more D on their rosters. For players being recruited to schools with such large rosters, they need to seriously consider the implications of being healthy scratched if they aren’t clearly in the top 6.
  • The next post will analyze the overall rosters of DI teams – including showing how many players each school has. There is a pretty big range in roster sizes (from 20 – 33 players).
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College Hockey Recruiting Girls Hockey Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Forward Recruits: The Current State of Division I Women’s College Hockey Recruiting for the Class of 2024 & 2025

Updated Dec. 19, 2023

This is the second of 3 posts about where things stand for each position – Goalies, Forwards and Defense – for the incoming classes of 2024 and 2025.

Read Part I of this series here: Navigating the Tight Goalie Market: The Current State of Division I Women’s College Hockey Recruiting for the Class of 2024 & 2025

Read Part III of this series here: Analyzing the Defensive Lineups: The Current State of Division I Women’s College Hockey Recruiting for the Class of 2024 & 2025

Women’s DI College Hockey Total Forward Players & Commits by Year

as of December, 2023

At first glance things seemed to have returned to normal for forwards with respect to the DI women’s college hockey recruiting class of 2023. There are 157 first-year players across all the Division I rosters this season. However, 18 of those spots are freshmen players at either Assumption or Robert Morris (“new” programs for both these schools), so the number is a little inflated compared to the 152 sophomore players playing DI hockey.

For the incoming Class of 2024, it seems almost all schools have finalized their rosters by now. Most schools have been announcing on social media their inbound players after the signing day earlier this month. Other than a few spots at NEWHA schools and maybe the odd player at other schools filling in a final roster spot, there are likely only a handful of opportunities remaining for forwards. Our 2024 F analysis now has 166 players, but there are likely some European and other commits who haven’t been publicly announced.

In addition, without knowing the plans for individual players, it is unclear how many of the 105 Seniors (granted an extra year of eligibility due to Covid) will decide to return for a 5th year either at their current school or find another school for their grad year. If all of them continue to play for the 2024-25 season then there may not be any spots open to 2024 high school graduates.

As for the incoming Class of 2025, there are certainly many spots still open. While most of the Top 10 schools have snagged the best players in the country, there are openings at many other programs. Until recently, many of the NEWHA schools have been focused on filling their 2024 rosters, so they will likely only shift their attention over the next month or two for their 2025 forwards.

Women’s DI College Hockey Forwards and Commits by School & Year

as of December, 2023

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College Hockey Recruiting Girls Hockey Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Navigating the Tight Goalie Market: The Current State of Division I Women’s College Hockey Recruiting for the Class of 2024 & 2025

Updated Dec. 14, 2023

This is the first of 3 posts about where things stand for each position – Goalies, Forwards and Defense – for the incoming classes of 2024 and 2025.

Read Part II of this series here: Forward Recruits: The Current State of Division I Women’s College Hockey Recruiting for the Class of 2024 & 2025

Read Part III of this series here: Analyzing the Defensive Lineups: The Current State of Division I Women’s College Hockey Recruiting for the Class of 2024 & 2025

The last couple of years have been tough for high level goalies looking for a spot to play Division I women’s college hockey.  With the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility for current seniors and grad students, it was anticipated that there were less openings available for the upcoming classes. In a typical year there should be 33 freshman goalies (3 goalies per team x 44 teams  ÷ 4 years of eligibility).   However, with the two new teams that started in 2023 (Assumptions and Robert Morris) and 10 teams carrying 4 goalies, it was surprising to see that there were 39 first-year goalies on DI teams this year – significantly more than in previous years.

Women’s DI College Hockey Total Goalie Player & Commits by Year

as of December, 2023

This is in addition to the transfer portal, which was very active for goaltenders this past off-season with 22 goalies looking for new teams.  Of note, only 7 of them found new DI teams, made up mostly of experienced goaltenders with only 1 or 2 years of eligibility left.

(December Update) From my analysis it looks like there probably are no more spots left for the class of 2024.  Any schools which appear to still have openings are likely intentionally waiting to see who becomes available via the transfer portal – there are already Covid 5th year players in the portal for next season.

As for the incoming class of 2025, it appears as there still me be many spots open – possibly as many as 10-15 slots still available. However, there may be schools that have already filled spots with commits that haven’t been publicly announced or tracked.  In addition, with 2023 having an above average number of first year goalies (8 teams having 2 freshmen) and 10 teams carrying 4 goalies, the outgoing college class of 2024 goalies may not all be replaced.  But on the positive side, there has only been one 2025 goalie publicly announced commit amongst all 8 of the NEWHA teams – so there are likely still some openings on several of those teams.

Women’s DI College Hockey Goalies and Commits by School & Year

as of December, 2023

One last thought to keep in mind.  Some schools might be happy to carry 4 goalies – this helps with practices and in case of injury to a goalie or two. I have had several coaches tell me that recently they have had serious injuries to at least one goalie, so having depth can be very helpful. Therefore, if you want agree to be a 4th goalie you may be able to be rostered and practice on a team but you probably won’t be guaranteed playing time – almost surely will not see any scholarship money unless you move up in the depth chart.  If the school is more important to you than playing time, this could be an option.

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Women's Hockey

The Drawbacks of MyHockeyRankings: A Closer Look at Misuse and Flaws in Youth Hockey Ratings

The following is a post I wrote almost four years ago about MyHockeyRankings on an old blog I used to publish. Most of it is still highly relevant after all this time. I have added a few additional new thoughts at the end of the post. This is the second post rounding out the benefits and drawbacks of MyHockeyRankings – you can read Part I here.

While MyHockeyRankings (MHR) has many benefits, I’ve seen and heard enough parents use the site in a manner for which it was not intended. Instead of being used for good, it can be used for evil to the detriment of player development and their game.

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first…

  1. Focusing on your team ranking

Coaching games to maintain or improve your team’s rank/rating goes against the original intent of the site. By putting a focus on ‘goal differential’ over playing games to your team’s fullest capability is essentially poor sportsmanship. One example is not pulling your goalie late in a close game to minimize the risk to lowering your rating even more. Another one is to keep/only play your best players late in the 3rd period even when the outcome is clear. Going into a game knowing the EGD and playing to match or exceed that difference should not be on the mind of any coach before or during a game. 

2. Using MHR rating or ranking as the measurement of team success

Like in business, a team cannot just look at a single metric to see determine the how well it is performing. Usually you’ll need 2 or 3 attributes to get the full picture of how an organization is performing. Things like player development, win/loss record during league or tournament play, and learning to compete are much more important than any single rating metric.

3. Playing for a highly ranked vs middle-of-the-pack team

Coaching certainly plays a role in the development and success of a team. However, the size of the pool of players in an area and the multi-year commitment to player development of a club or region is really the biggest factor in how good a team is. This is why regions like Toronto, Boston and Minnesota have so many strong teams. They have both robust club programs to develop players from Mites to Midget as well as a deep group of players in their programs to choose from. Thus, as a parent, it really shouldn’t matter if your child’s team is highly ranked, what matters is that they continue to develop on a path to help them be the best hockey player they can be.

There are also several weaknesses to the actual algorithm using only goal differential for team ratings. Here are a few of them:

4. Lack of uniformity in game format and duration

Not all games are created equal. While USA Hockey tries to standardize games across divisions, the reality is that a large portion of games that are included in the rankings do not follow those guidelines. These can include games from tournaments, exhibition and pre-season game. The attributes that are not consistent across games can include game time, how regulation ties are handled (e.g. overtime vs. shootout vs. no extra time).  Last year, we were at a tournament with 90 second penalties while the total game was only 75% of a real game. This season our pre-season games were two twenty minute running-time games. There is no way to normalize scores based on the running time of a game.

5. Games scheduled between teams with Expected Goal Differential (EGD) great than 7

Per the original MHR manifesto, only scheduling games between teams that will be competitive makes perfect sense. However, in some regions having division where there is a large discrepancy between the top and bottom teams may occur.  Since MHR max goal differential per game is 7, I have seen several times where the lower rated team’s rating went up even though they lost by 10 goals, since the teams ratings difference was 8 or 9 goals heading into the game. I would recommend changing the algorithm to not include games between teams that have a 7 or more goal differential.

It is my experience that the MHR rating should be taken with a grain of salt and statistically there is probably some reasonably standard deviation between 0.50 and 0.75 rating points. Once again though if you are using the site for its intended purpose, then it shouldn’t matter what the actual rating is for your team. Furthermore, the natural standard deviation makes the rating even more meaningless.  Here are some additional factors that contribute to the standard deviation:

6. Tired teams

Most tier teams regularly play 4 to 6 games in a weekend.  While fatigue is something all the teams need to deal with, when the key metric for MHR is goal differential, it is very likely that final scores between two identical team will not be the same at the end of a 6 game weekend as they would have been on the first day. I have been surprised on many occasions when I expected to see a blow-out between two teams, but it was clear that the higher rated team couldn’t maintain the same level of play for 3 full periods in their final game.

7. Backup goalie dynamic

Ratings are a weighted average of both goalies.  But on many teams there can be a big gap between the top goalie and the second goalie. On others, there may be only one goalie. One season, one my kid’s teams had a goal differential rating of about 1.5 difference between the two goalies.  In this situation, wins vs. losses is a much better indicator of the team’s success instead of goal differential.

7. Asymmetric Actual Goal Differential

In my experience the EGD vs actual goal differential appears asymmetric when the EGD is about 4 or more. Usually this happened when team from different division play each other (i.e. when the higher ranked team has played most of their games against higher ranked teams and the lower ranked team traditionally plays lower ranked teams). So, the rating don’t reflect an apples-to-apples set of teams they have played and when the two teams play, the higher rated team can significantly exceed the EGD.

I am sure there are several other factors I have missed that contribute to the rating not being as precise as possible.

So how should you look at the ratings?

As mentioned above, take it with a grain of salt and don’t focus on the specific number, but more the peer group you are grouped with to see how your team is doing relative to others.  In addition, don’t be concerned about any number rating or ranking, focus instead on player and team development because at the end of the day that is what youth hockey is all about.

2023 Update #1 – last year both my kids played several games against Canadian teams and it seemed that the cross-border ratings weren’t as accurate as within the U.S. Specifically, the Canadian teams were consistently better than their ratings. Am not 100% sure why, but am assuming that the algorithm had insufficient cross-border game data to normalize (calibrate) the true ratings across the two geographies.

2023 Update #2 – There are many reasons I’ve seen that some games should not be included in the MHR calculation. I have even heard both teams agree not to post scores from ‘exhibition’ games to MHR. The most obvious one is where a team needs to play a USA Hockey district qualifying game against a team that is more than 7 goals below them in MHR. Clearly the only reason to play the game is to check a box. However, USA Hockey does use MHR as a way to select at-large invitations to Nationals (playoffs). While probably having negligible impact, these types of games should probably not be included in the MHR calculation.

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

Q3 2023 DI Women’s College Hockey Commitment Rate Update

This is an update in our series tracking the number of publicly announced commitments in women’s college hockey. For 2024, the commitment rate continues to lag all previous recruiting years. On a more positive note, the Class of 2025 has had several more August commitment announcements than the 2024 class.

DI Women’s Hockey Commitment Rate by Months Prior to College

2023 Commits

With the start of the 2023 women’s college hockey season, we are closing the books on this recruiting class with only 185 commits. This is about 30 less players than in previous years, mostly due to the extra year of eligibility for many players due to Covid. This number is even lower than expected given that there are two new teams (Robert Morris and Assumption) beginning play this fall – compared to just one new team (Stonehill) last year.

2024 Commits

The 2024 commits continue to be even further behind the 2023 commitment rate as of the end of August by about 20% (99 2024’s vs 124 2023’s at this time last year). While there should be at least another 60 spots that haven’t been announced, many schools have been telling players they are full at the moment. However, I have heard of at least a couple of schools are still looking for 2024 players

2025 Commits

There have been almost daily announcements over the past couple of weeks for the Class of 2025. With the Labor Day tournaments now complete, players will be visiting campuses and making decisions between game weekends. There will likely be 50-60 announcements over the next couple of months.

Goalies

There are only 16 2023 commits and 10 2024 commits that have been publicly announced. Although I head of a 2023 goalie that only committed a few weeks ago in July to a top DI school (thanks to a transfer situation). Surprisingly there have already been 4 2025 goalie commits announced

Data assumptions:

  1. Data commitment dates – source: collegecommitments.com and Champs App analysis (including social media posts and private messages)
  2. Many players do not formally announce their commitments publicly (or are not tracked properly), so the premise of this analysis implies that the percent of publicly announced commitments that are tracked remains constant each year.
  3. Transfers between DI programs are not included in the number of commits
  4. Total number of publicly announced commitments for 2021 was 215 and for 2022 it was 214
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College Hockey Recruiting Girl's Showcase Player Development Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

How to Navigate a Path to Playing Women’s College Hockey

This summer, a podcast listener emailed me a simple question. If I was to do it all over again, what path would I recommend a young girl follow if she wanted to play college hockey?  Obviously, there is no simple answer or a single path for someone to follow to play high level female hockey.  But I thought I would articulate three simple principles I’d recommend and include references to more detailed topics I have covered in the past.

Note: This post focuses primarily on the DI college recruiting process. If a player’s goal is to play other levels of college / university hockey like DIII, CIS or ACHA (club) hockey, you can probably slightly dial down the timing and frequency of the some of the recommendations below.

1. Just Get Good

This is by far the most important principle in this list. At whatever age a player shows a passion for hockey, this is the area to focus on most.  I have written several posts on what it takes to become a really good hockey player and this should be the highest priority. In my opinion, this probably should not change until a player stops playing competitive hockey.  There are over 2000 girls in each birth year playing a high level of hockey in the U.S. and Canada, but only ~250 spots open on DI rosters every year, the math gets quite easy. A player needs to be in the top 10-15% in order to get an offer from one of those 44 teams.

2. Make Sure You Are Seen

Assuming you are a “good” hockey player.  I would recommend that starting at about 14 or 15 years old you play for a team that attends the major girls hockey events  that DI college coaches scout. By playing on such a team, there is the obvious benefit of playing with other good players, receiving good coaching and being pushed by your peers.  But more importantly, in my experience, knowing that college coaches will be watching you play against top teams and players will help them calibrate you to your peers.

Not everyone agrees with this. Many coaches will say, if you are good enough, schools will find you. This is great in theory, but it is not always true. I know of several really good female hockey players who either played boys hockey, lived in non-traditional markets or played on weak AAA teams who were not regularly seen. The reality is, if you don’t play at high profile tournaments (e.g. USA or Canadian national playoffs & other top in-season tournaments ) or are not selected to attend the U18 national camps you won’t get noticed as easily.  So if you aren’t one of the top 30 players in the country, put yourself in the best position to be seen as much as possible.

There is also definitely a bias to regional players for almost all schools. And it is self-reinforcing. This is why you see so many Minnesota players play for Minnesota colleges. And why so many prep players play on the east coast.  While there are exceptions, being able to watch local players, having existing relationships with their coaches, players wanting to stay close to home etc. are all factors in their recruiting process.  Each of these things make it “easier” for college coaches to find talent that is probably just as good as the harder to find alternatives – and why coaches tend to find fish where they’ve fished in the past. So if you aren’t on a team that is regularly seen by DI schools, the mountain is a little steeper to climb, but not impossible. 

Which is why I would recommend for players who aren’t slam-dunk going to play in a Top 10 school, make sure you get seen in the year or two prior to your junior year of high school.

3. Strategically Pick 3-5 Spring/Summer Hockey Events to Attend

Ideally, the older you get, the more you would know how good a player your are relative to your peers.  This should then factor into which events to pick after the winter season ends.  With a little research you can figure out which ones might fit you level of play. Almost all the showcase organizers are very responsive to answering questions and can give you a feel if your daughter would be a good fit for a specific event. 

I would recommend only attending a handful of off-season events (e.g. one per month from April-August).   Such as:

  • USA Hockey or Hockey Canada national camps  (if you are good/lucky enough to be selected)
  • Showcases (Premier Ice Prospects, RUSH, NGHL etc.)
  • College Camps ( Colgate,  and any other school-specific camp that you might be interested in)
  • Popular tournaments (e.g. Beantown Classic, Showcase Hockey, Rose Series etc.)

Check out our full year list of girls hockey events.

 I think it is hard to justify going to more than 5 events unless they are almost all local (e.g. in the Boston area).  The “spray and pray” strategy usually ends up wasting a lot of money.  We have talked ad nauseum on the podcast that you don’t need to go to every event. It is both expensive and unnecessary.  But having a plan based on a players interest and level of play can deliver a reasonable return on your time and financial investment.

If you are 12 and under, in my opinion, you should be picking events for fun (e.g. a hockey trip to Europe) and maybe a little development. But not for recruiting purposes. You will have plenty of time when you are older to attend events that really matter to college coaches.

Summary

I have intentionally tried to simplify my recommendations on how to navigate the world of girl’s hockey and women’s college recruiting.  Player development is most critical. After that, just make sure they are playing at a high level while getting enough visibility.  If you follow these principles, everything else should take care of itself.