Categories
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

Categories
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.

Categories
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).
Categories
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

Categories
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.

Categories
College Hockey Recruiting Girl's Showcase Girls Hockey hockey USA Hockey Nationals Women's College Hockey

Recruiting Insights from the 2023 Tradition NIT Girls Hockey Tournament: Coaches, Coaches, Coaches!

This past weekend I was in Minnesota for the fabulous 2023 Tradition NIT Girls Hockey Tournament organized by Winny Brodt Brown. In total, there were 93 teams participating for the 16U and 19U age groups.  Almost every top US club team was in attendance plus many of the top western Canadian girl’s teams.

Over the course of the 3-day event, I had multiple conversations with several DI & DIII coaches and I thought I would share my observations as they relate to the recruiting process:

1. Competition Matters for Getting Seen

As heard many times on the Champs App podcast, coaches want to see players playing at the highest level, against top players to properly evaluate them.  With as many as 8 games going on simultaneously across the two rink locations, coaches can’t watch every game. Many times I would see a coach watch 2 overlapping games by switching back and forth during ice cuts.  Thus coaches need to be selective in which games they scout. Coaches were mostly watching games with the largest number of  talented players.  Thus, it appeared as though games with the highest ranking teams got the highest DI coach attendance.  However, it did seem that DIII and ACHA coaches were more flexible in watching lower ranked teams. But if you want to play DI hockey, my sense is that you want to put yourself in the best position to be seen. This would imply playing on a team that plays against the other top teams in the country. The reality is that if your team is ranked in 30’s and below on MyHockeyRankings, then you probably won’t get noticed as much, even if you are a DI caliber player.

2. Connections Help

I saw this firsthand this weekend.  If you can get a positive reference to a college coach through an advisor, current or former coach, friend or some other trusted hockey-related relationship, it can make a difference in getting scouted.  It won’t get you an offer, but it can certainly get a coach from a specific school to come watch you play and start the process.

3. Lines Not Dots

I had a great conversation with a coach from a Top 5 DI school and asked why they scouted at so many events. In reality, given their school’s reputation, they could just focus on the handful of top players at the US or Canadian national camps and simply cherry pick those players.  But the coach revealed to me that they watch the elite-of-the-elite players over the course of several years and track their development and progression over an extended period of time. This way they can see what the player’s trajectory looks like and if it continues to trend in a positive direction. The coach and I discussed a specific player and how the coaches have been monitoring how the hockey IQ of that player has been improving over the previous 2 years. Thus coaches at high-end teams look for the trendlines of players – not just the individual play at a single event.

4. Experience Matters in Evaluating Players

It was fun talking to several coaches and hearing their “off-the-record” thoughts about certain players. The folks I talked to ranged from longtime head coaches to junior assistant coaches to a former DI coach.  What I gleaned across all the convos was the more experience you had coaching,  the less amount of time it took to get a pretty accurate assessment of a player.  I was surprised how accurately the seasoned coaches figured out a player’s strengths and weaknesses. While for some of the junior coaches it sounded like they needed to watch more games to get a good sense for a player.

5. Lots of Coaches

For this year, the NCAA approved DI teams to have three assistant coaches (instead of just two).  As a result, almost every (non-NEWHA) DI team had a least one coach present for the entire weekend while their school played regular season conference games “back home” on Friday and Saturday.  Several coaches clearly also got on planes or in a car right after their games were done on Saturday and headed to Blaine, MN.  On Sunday morning, 7 of the 8 head coaches from the WCHA teams were in attendance, with all eight schools having multiple assistant coaches there as well.

Categories
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
Categories
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.

Categories
2023 Development Camp Girls Hockey Player Development Women's College Hockey Women's Hockey

Analyzing the USA Hockey Girls 16/17 Camp Forward Selections for the U18 Camp

USA-Hockey

The is the second analysis I have done about the selections for the USA Hockey Girls U18 Camp which took place last week. The first was about the defenders picked to go to the U18 Camp. Now that the selections of the forwards from U18 Camp to go to the Women’s Festival were announced a few days ago, it makes this analysis even more interesting because none of the top 3 point-getters from either the Girls 16/17 Camp nor the U18 Camp were selected to advance to the next stage in the process.

WHAT?

Similar to the previous post, rather than engage in a subjective discussion on who was selected, I thought it might be helpful to collect some analytical data and metrics to understand how top players performed at the 16/17 camp and compare them to a couple of the players who weren’t selected.

WHY?

When you don’t select the top 3 point-getters from either Girls 16/17 Camp or the U18 Camp, there are bound to be a lot of folks who wonder what the selection criteria is for making it to the next stage of USA Hockey. I don’t know the answer to that question. But I can analyze the video of each shift for several of the top players picked and not picked to see if there is an obvious difference between the two segments. The purpose of this post is not to say who did or did not deserve to be selected to the U18 Camp. Instead, it is to help provide perspective and context to other players and parents the types of metrics that demonstrate the level of play needed to be selected.  And ideally, individual players do their own self-analysis to see how they compare.

HOW?

I watched and coded specific attributes for every shift in all 4 games for every player in this analysis using the USA Hockey TV footage. I collected more metrics than are listed below, but I feel that the attributes shown, provide the right amount and level of data to gain an understanding of the level of play for this position. Note: Sometimes the live stream footage didn’t always focus on the area of the ice where the play was taking place, so it is very likely the odd play may have not been accounted for.

WHO?

Here is the list of the 13 players selected to go to the 18’s camp

Since I only had the time to watch 5 players – I watched 3 selected forwards plus 2 top players who weren’t selected. Those 3 forwards represented a mix of the forward selections.  I am not identifying the names of any players because singling out any individual player is not my objective.  For full transparency, in this analysis I do know the parents of one of the players.

SO WHAT?

Do I think the 5 selected were in the Top 10 forwards at the camp, almost certainly. Do I think there are 3-5 other players that could easily have been selected instead – also, almost certainly. There is no algorithm to calculate and rank the top players. I don’t know the selection criteria, so whatever they may be (whether well-structured or not) at the end of the day what matters is results. As stated in the parents meeting, the results of the last two U18 World Championships was not the result USA Hockey wanted – so we will see if the current process yields better results.

THE ANALYSIS

2023 USA Hockey Girls 16-17 Camp Analytics for Forwards Selected to Advance to the U18 Girls Camp

Note: Players 1-3 were selected to go to the U18 Girls Camp – Players 4 & 5 were not selected

Some notes on the tracked attributes:

  • Takeaways = a one-on-one situation where the player gains control of the puck from directly challenging the other player
  • Giveaways = full change of possession to the other team (e.g. a missed pass, dump in/out, rim or redirected puck)
  • OZone entries = skating across the blue line with full possession of the puck
  • Team Shots For/Against do not include shot attempts that did not reach the net. Only SOGs were included.
  • I am not including the point stats or PIMs for any player since they can already be found on the USA Hockey website
  • There were additional attributes I tracked like “faceoffs won” but they indirectly show up in other higher-order key metrics. Since not all the forwards played center, I didn’t include the faceoff attribute.  But I did want to note, that one player was very good at faceoffs while another was not.  The one that won most of their faceoffs did see that reflected in other measurement areas since many faceoff wins led to greater possession time.

OTHER THOUGHTS

  • From all the players and games I’ve watched, it seems (and it’s only natural) that really good plays are rewarded disproportionately more than their equivalent poor plays are punished (e.g. creating a “wow” scoring chance vs. causing a “wow” scoring chance for the other team). Forwards tend not to surrender many negative scoring chances unless they are somewhat negligent defensively.  So, it seems likely that creating offense is highly disproportionately weighted in player evaluation.
  • Not all players gave the same defensive effort throughout a game, whether it is being tired or laziness.  But over the course of four games, it was pretty clear who consistently tried to play a 200-foot game (vs. cheating a little defensively or taking some shortcuts).
  • Scouting and evaluating is not an exact science.  In my humble opinion, most of the scouts/coaches don’t watch any player enough to really get the full picture.  It is sampling data – and while it is directionally correct, when there are many players within a close band it is hard to discern who is absolutely the “best” player. And who you pick may vary when you are building a team for a short tournament and need different types of players. 
  • After watching over 20 hours of individual game footage, this process is somewhat exhausting. It takes a lot of work to watch and tag each type of play. I can’t imagine being a scout and trying to watch 10 skaters live on the ice throughout an entire game.  At the same time, the insights are quite valuable.  I hope that college scouts leverage Instat to watch players individual shifts (if a club/prep team uses Instat) to evaluate the full body of their work rather than just sampling one or two periods of a game during a tournament or showcase weekend. To me, it is hard to watch multiple players in a game rather than on just one player at a time.
  • Note: We are still waiting to on the written feedback and letter rating that we were told all players would receive.  If you are a player or parent from 16/17 Camp who has a received this feedback, please reach out and let me know. Update: We did receive the USA Hockey Feedback on July 27th – I will be writing up my thoughts on the feedback process in a upcoming post.
Categories
2023 College Hockey Recruiting Development Camp Girls Hockey Women's College Hockey

Insights on the Class of 2025 Recruiting Efforts of a DI Head Coach

During my time in Oxford, Ohio at the USA Hockey Girls 16/17 Camp I had the opportunity to ask a non-Top 10 DI Head Coach a bunch of Class of 2025 recruiting questions.  Specifically, I wanted to better understand the specifics of how the coaching staff actually went about securing commitments for the incoming class of 2025.  Here is a summary of what I learned about that school’s recruiting efforts…

  • Over a the first few days that coaches were allowed to talk to the Class of 2025 (beginning on June 15th) the coaching staff reached out to ~15-18 players and offered them spots on the team.
  • These players would be considered the highest rated players for 2025 according to the coach. 
  • The coach explained that the top players are likely getting multiple offers on June 15th (or thereabouts) and in order for many schools to be competitive with these in-demand players, the teams need to make offers immediately.
  • The coach told me that most of the players had never contacted their school – so the school was being proactive in reaching out to the players without knowing if the players had any interest in their school.
  • In addition to the players that received immediate offers, the coaching staff reached out to another set of 15-18 players to express an interest in those players and to understand if the players interest reciprocated. 
  • During the weeks following June 15th, the staff is continuing to have conversations with this second tier of potential recruits.  Based on how many commits the school receives from the top tier players, then conversations and visits are likely to progress deeper with the next level of recruits
  • Once again, the way I understood it, a large number of the next level of recruits that were contacted had not necessarily reached out to the school directly prior to June 15th.
  • The coach then explained that their recruiting efforts are likely to progress into the fall and winter. If there were spots still open after working through the first two levels in the funnel of potential recruits, then again, they will continue to scout and reach out/respond to individual players that might meet the requirements for the remaining roles on the team. This might be by position or specific type of players (e.g. goal scorer vs. puck-moving D).
  • The coach also reinforced that the coaching staff was recruiting heavily in both Canada and the U.S. and that one of the challenges was being able to calibrate players between the two countries.  This is likely because there are only a few events that in-season teams from both side of the border compete against each other (e.g. Stoney Creek, PIP Labor Day Fest and USA-Canada Cup).
  • Note: To-date I have not heard of any 2025 players publicly announce committing to the school in question

A Few Thoughts After the First Two Days of the 2023 USA Hockey Girls 16/17 Development Camp

More Thoughts on the 2023 USA Hockey 16/17 Girls Development Camp