College Ice Hockey Recruiting
Ice hockey is a unique college sport because each player usually plays two years of junior league hockey before going to compete at the college level. That means that the hockey recruiting process for them is different than other high school athletes. In order to be efficient in their recruitment, ice hockey players need to know as much as possible.
The Basics of Ice Hockey Recruiting
There are 128 men’s ice hockey college programs: 58 at NCAA Division I and 70 at Division III. For women’s ice hockey, there are only 82 college programs: 34 at Division I and 48 at Division III. Both men’s and women’s hockey programs have about 18 scholarships per team at the Division I Level; Division III Hockey offers alternative forms of financial aid.
You will find most of the college ice hockey programs (about 95%) in the Northeast, Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.
Junior League experience is a must for ice hockey players looking to compete at the college level! It gives your ice hockey recruiting prospects a real boost. Coaches follow most of their recruits from high school into their junior league careers.
Coaches want to see you Play
Most ice hockey players assume that if they see a college coach at a game, then the coach has seen them. This is most likely not the case. Coaches attend high school and junior league games with a list of players that they are there to watch. So if you are not on that list, you are not being seen as a prospect. Make sure to establish contact with a coach and send them your schedule in case they are able to attend a game; don’t assume they are there to watch you if you haven’t.
Junior Leagues allow for Development
Most ice hockey players who end up in college are a couple of years older than there freshman classmates. This is because they spend two years playing in junior league hockey right out of high school. Position development is a big part of the junior league experiences and here’s what you can expect for each position:
Hockey teams rely on strong, fast, and big forwards. You will be competing against defensemen who are consistently above 6’ and equally talented skaters. While you may have the physical measurements, you also need to be able to put up the stats to get a coach’s attention. You have to be able to demonstrate your talent against competitive teams in high level leagues; have good stats in adequate level leagues won’t get you anywhere.
Size, agility, aggression, and stick skills are just a few of characteristics that coaches want on their defensive lines. If you can prove you can make a solid difference on the ice against opponents who may play for the NHL, then you have a chance of earning a scholarship.
Talented goalies are often the reason that ice hockey teams win games. College coaches are always on the hunt for the best goalies they can find and will save good scholarship money aside for them. If you can dominate a game, blocking goals and leading your defense, then you are on your way to earning a scholarship.