Where Do NCAA Division I Goalies Commit From?
As NCAA Men’s college hockey fans flock into the arena’s this fall they will be curious to see the new freshman additions to their favorite teams.
The roster in the program book will tell them each player’s number, height and weight, hometown and their last team. What the program won’t tell them is where that player was when they initially verbally committed to the college or university.
It would seem like a safe assumption that a player committed from the team they last played for before arriving on campus, but that would be a mistake. In this generation of early commits and de-commits there is often a grooming period between the time a college hockey player commits to the time he actually enrolls in classes.
The following is a breakdown of NCAA Division I goalie commitments from September 1, 2013 to Sept 1, 2015:
NCAA Division I Goalies: Where do they commit from?
Of the 101 goalies to commit over a two-year span, 51, or slightly over half, of the NCAA Division I goalies receive those college and university commitments from US junior leagues.
The Canadian junior hockey system placed 26 goalies in NCAA Division I.
Ten Midget goalies were placed from their U-18 or U-16 teams and Prep schools developed eight Division I goalies.
The remaining goalies came from US high schools, Bantam programs and a Europe.
Please keep in mind that there are European goalies playing in North American leagues and that this analysis is strictly on where the goaltender is playing as opposed to his nationality. These statistics also do not take into consideration where the goalie played the season before they received their commitment or where they played the year following their commitment if they did not enter school immediately.
Inside the numbers: There was a time when US colleges scoured Canada looking for goalies. This is no longer the case as Canadian leagues are currently only producing 26 per cent of NCAA commitments. US junior hockey is controlling half of the NCAA goaltending commitments. The US Midget hockey system, which produces the majority of goalies for the USHL and NAHL, have the majority of their goalies commit after they leave the midget system and move into the junior ranks. Prep schools had eight goalies make commitments to play the best level of college hockey the country has to offer.
NCAA Division I Goalies: What leagues do they commit from?
The United States Hockey League (USHL) and the North American Hockey League (NAHL) each had 21 goalies commit to NCAA over the last two years. The British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) placed 14 goalies, while fellow Canadian junior leagues chipped in with 5 (CCHL), 4 (AJHL), and 3 (OJHL) respectively.
US Prep schools placed a total of eight goalies into division I hockey and the eastern based United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) had six commits and the Eastern Hockey League had two. Midget U-16 leagues had seven of their goalies commit to colleges and universities as opposed to three commitments from U18 Midget programs.
Inside the numbers: The statistics only chart total commitments. It does not factor in which goalies received scholarships and which goalies were recruited walk-ons and were either full pay or financial aid recipients.
If a goalie de-committed from a school the commitment is still counted. Also, a goalie may de-commit from one school and commit to another and therefore if both commitments were between September 1, 2013 and September 1, 2015 they are both counted.
NCAA Division I Goalie: Heights and Weights
Along with where NCAA Division I goalies made their commitments from, it is also interesting to note their physical characteristics. As the NHL continues to promote larger goalies, the NCAA institutions follow the trend by committing bigger goalies. The average age of a Division I goalie commitment is 18.35 years of age. The height of NCAA goalies is 6-foot, 1.07-inches and the weight of your typical future NCAA goalie is 183.09 pounds.
Inside the numbers: The average age of the NCAA division I committed goalie is deceiving. Although the average age is 18.35 there is a growing trend to commit younger and older goalies. There were actually more 20 and 21 year old goalies committed (31) then there were 18 year olds (26).
Netminders can be divided into two groups: 1. Goalies that receive commitments based on how schools project them to be when they are older are granted these commitments on “potential,” and 2. Older goalies that receive Division I commitments based on how they have played at a higher level are considered to receive commitments based on “performance.” There is a chasm of goalies in between these two ends of the spectrum.
Only two goalies under 6-foot-2 were drafted into the NHL this past spring. NCAA college recruiters appear to be following in the same direction with the average height of committed goalie at 6-foot-1.07.
NCAA Division I Goalies: Where the leagues are committing goalies.
Along with charting where the goalies commit from it’s important to note where the NCAA conferences are selecting their goalies. The Atlantic Hockey Conference focuses on the BCHL and CCHL with eight of their 17 recruits coming from those two leagues. The Big Ten committed nine goalies over this two year time frame, three being from the NAHL. The ECAC drew goalies primarily from the NAHL (4), Prep school (3), the USHL (3), The BCHL (2) and eastern based USPHL (2). Hockey East, 26 total goalie commits, recruited from the most sources with the USHL being the number one supplier with seven commits. The NCHA grabbed 12 out of 16 goalies from the junior ranks. The WCHA, which committed 12 goalies, only committed 1 goalie not playing junior hockey.
Inside the numbers: The Atlantic Hockey League only committed three of the leagues 17 spots to goalies playing in eastern based leagues. Five of the Big Ten’s goalie recruits came from either the NAHL or the USHL. The ECAC had as many Prep school goalies (3) as USHL goalies (3). The league that drew goalies from the most leagues was Hockey East with 26 goalies committed from 12 different leagues. Of the 16 Goalie recruits in the NCHC, nine come from the NAHL, USHL and BCHL. In the WCHA all of the 12 goalie commits came from 5 leagues.
Although there are leagues that increase a goalies probability of playing NCAA Division I hockey, there are many avenues in which to get there. The most important thing for goalies to realize is that it takes time and experience to maximize potential. There are very few diamond in the rough recruits these days as college coaches work hard to evaluate any potential goalie that could help their program whatever league or country that they are playing in.
~ Brian Daccord is a former goalie coach of the Boston Bruins and currently the goaltending coach of Adler Mannheim in the German DEL. He is a co-founder of the Foundation for Goaltending Research and Education and founder of Stop It Goaltending. Matt Ouellette is a former goaltender and currently a business major at Endicott College.
* Statistical sources: eliteprospects.com, Chris Heisenberg’s List, College Hockey Inc, and hockeydb.com