The college ice hockey recruiting process for getting a scholarship to play college ice hockey is unlike all other college sports. Every college hockey player typically plays two full years in the junior hockey system before going on to the college level. If you hold any aspirations of playing at the college level you need to be playing in the highest junior league you can.

College hockey scholarships by the numbers

There are only 128 men’s ice hockey programs with 58 competing at the NCAA DI level and 70 at the NCAA DIII. For women there are 82 total programs, 34 NCAA DI and 48 NCAA DIII programs.

Each men’s and women’s NCAA DI ice hockeyprogram can have up to 18 scholarships per team. DIII programs use other forms of scholarship and financial aid for hockey players.

95% of college hockey programs are in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwestern parts of the USA.

Junior leagues are college hockey’s minor leagues

The average age of college hockey freshman is 20 years old. College coaches often begin scouting and recruiting players starting in high school and will follow them for their two years at the junior levels before making scholarship offers. This means coaches get a great chance to evaluate almost every recruit for scholarships but unless you are communicating with these coaches and seeing them at your games you aren’t going to magically end up getting a scholarship.

College ice hockey recruiting. What are hockey scouts and coaches looking for?

You might see coaches but they don’t always see you

One of the most common traps for junior hockey players is they assume because they are playing in a league that kids get recruited from and they are seeing coaches at their games they too are being evaluated and recruited. Coaches don’t go to games to find talent, they go there to watch specific players and very rarely discover talent watching a game. As a player you should know when you are being recruited because you are in contact and communicating with coaches; if you have any doubt you probably aren’t being recruited yet.

Use our COLLEGE SEARCH TOOL to find the best ice hockey colleges… Make up your own list of ice hockey colleges that fit your academic and athletic profile. A list of NCAA ice hockey colleges can also be found here.  Division I CollegesDivision II CollegesDivision III Colleges.


Every program at every level is looking for the best goalie they can find and will do whatever they can scholarship wise to get them on their team. Dominate goalies can carry teams and almost single handedly win games for you. With that type of potential impact scholarship money is always cleared for goalies.


With so few opportunities at the college level there is no room for players with any weaknesses. For defensemen this means you will need to be an excellent skater, solid stick skills, aggressive and size is especially important. At the NCAA DI level you will be playing against players who have been drafted by the NHL. If you don’t have the size or speed to compete you will just get blown off the ice. As a defensemen if you can be an anchor on your line and consistently put out quality minutes you can expect a scholarship.


You have to score to win and having a fast, big, goal scorer can make or break a team. Coaches watch all of the junior hockey leagues but as a forward it is especially important you are playing against quality teams. Having great stats in a lower league will get over looked. If you are playing in a league that might not be the most popular you have to put up amazing stats just to be considered.

Not all NCAA DI hockey programs are the same

With only 58 men’s programs and 34 women’s programs able to offer athletic scholarships the actual number of programs with all of their scholarships is less. Teams with 18 scholarships are known as a fully funded program and not every DI program is fully funded. Additionally, Ivy League schools (there are 6 at the DI level) do not offer athletic scholarships at all.

Not every hockey scholarship is a full ride

With 18 scholarships per team and 25+ players per team hockey coaches don’t give full ride scholarships to every player. Coaches are always willing to shell our full ride for star players and then use the remaining scholarships to divide among the rest of the players. Some programs will also ask a group of players to walk on to the team and depending on how the practice and continue to develop they might find scholarship money for them the next year.

Don’t let grades bring you down

Shooting for the minimum academic requirements will only hurt you in the pursuit for ice hockey scholarships. Just because you are eligible by NCAA standards does not mean you are going to be able to gain admission into a university that wants to recruit you. There are some programs that can accept players who only have the minimum requirements but for the majority you will need to do much better just to be eligible. Getting a solid GPA and test scores also makes it possible for coaches to find you academic money. That means they can get you financial aid and the athletic scholarship money you might have needed can go to another recruit and make the team better.

Use the links at the bottom left hand side of this page to make up you list of ice hockey colleges. Compile a list of DI ice hockey colleges or any other NCAA Division.

Are you ready for the NEXT STEP!