In This Post…
- What Makes A Good Event|
- Congrats Joel!|
- August 1 Approaches|
NCAA Coaching Changes… See all the coaching changes in one spot – HERE – on our google sheet. Announcements on new hires and recent openings can be found below in the Sifters section.
Stick Taps Section… We need your ‘Stick Taps’ suggestions! Have someone in the world of women’s hockey you think deserves some recognition? Let us know who they are and why you think they’re so deserving! Email us at: email@example.com or tweet at us: @WMNSCollHockey. Our first Stick Tap goes out August first!
Online Directory of Recruiting Events/Leagues… We received several messages from event and league organizers wishing to get their events/league weekends/showcases listed in our online directory. So – we’ve created a google sheet with all the events that present good scouting opportunities we’re are aware of. You can find that list HERE. If you run a recruiting event or league and want to have us list it in our online directory, please click HERE and fill out our WCH.org recruiting event form.
What Makes A Good Event
In previous Pipeline posts, we’ve identified some of the frustrations NCAA college coaches have with some events and what they do – or do not – provide. There are plenty of events that fall well short of what might considered ‘a good event’ by NCAA coaches standards. Not providing printed rosters, too many teams participating, or too many rink locations, etc. are just some of the things that make events difficult for NCAA coaches to do their jobs.
In last weeks post about the Beantown Classic, we acknowledged tournament/showcase event operators don’t really have NCAA coaches as their main priority… getting a certain number of teams to pay the entry fee is. So, what actually makes a good showcase/tournament event? In no particular order, here are a few things NCAA coaches enjoy that make their jobs more efficient and will help the reputations of tournament/event operators.
NCAA coaches ‘mostly’ go where the talent is… NCAA Coaches are like mice following cheese, we’re always chasing who we think the best players are wherever they may be playing. Events that attract a competitive field of talent will get coaches to your event.
We put ‘mostly’ in quotes because there times when coaches will go to an event and watch a particular age group where they largely know nothing about who’s there, except knowing what the expected level of play is. Coaches can specifically identify players to add to a particular recruiting class list to continue to evaluate in the future. The Rush Showcase is a good example. This event (in non-COVID years) is held in Brampton, Ontario during early June with 600+ players entering grade 7-Post Grad from all around Canada, the US, as well as Europe. A great event to identify up and coming younger talent that coaches normally would not have watched during the previous hockey season. Plus, it’s all under one roof.
The less travel between arena locations the better… Preaching to the choir here, event operators dislike multiple locations too. NCAA coaches love it when they can stay at one arena location. That said, if multiple locations have to be used, NCAA coaches would rather see one entire age group play all their games on a particular day or for a whole event, at one arena location, rather than have an age group’s games be spread out over multiple arena locations, on multiple days, at multiple times. Bottom line – the less travel rink-to-rink coaches have to do, the better.
Printed rosters and coaches or player contact information… Can’t stress this one enough. Having printed, current, up to date team rosters or an event program and either coaches or player contact information is paramount. If the goal of an organization’s event is to provide opportunities for its participants to be scouted/evaluated by NCAA coaches and hopefully play NCAA college hockey- then do right by your participants and make it as easy as possible for that scouting/evaluation to happen. Dummy-Proof and professionalize your event!
Coaches love to see competitive games… Coaches want to see the best play against the best. While there is value in watching a more talented team play a weaker team, it certainly isn’t ideal for an entire event. Create schedules that have a competitive balance. Coaches can tell when organizations weaken their division or schedule so they can have a chance at ‘winning’ said event. Place all of your players into college hockey programs, and now you’ve really ‘won’.
Event format, time of year, and type of event… This one is important! There’s a bit to unpack here – so pay attention! #1 game format – 3 periods vs. 2 halves… Merritt to both, but if exposure to NCAA coaches is the priority for the event, you’d find most college coaches say ‘two halves’ is a better eval experience. Some events in the summer use this format already. We get not every event has the latitude to use the 2 halve method. But if using 2 halves, allow teams to defend each end of the ice. There is a big difference in how players manage the game when players have the ‘long change’. #2 Period length… Two-25 or 30 min. periods is a good amount of time for players to get into a rhythm. Running time under 25 mins, can be tough. #3 Zam times… 3 periods of play with ice cuts after each can make the game drag on. Ice cut after every 2 periods when 3 are being played, works ok, sometimes too. An ice cut after a half of less than 30 mins. probably isn’t needed.
Here is may be the most important. #4 Time of year and type of event… Understand that D-I coaches have to monitor how often they evaluate players and meet recruits face-to-face off of their campus. Under NCAA rules, D-I coaches get 7 ‘recruiting opportunities’ to evaluate players or meet them face-to-face off of their campus. No more than 3 of these 7 opportunities can be face-to-face meetings. This rule is per recruit coaches focus on to evaluate and per coaching staff, not per coach on staff. This rule goes into effect each year beginning Aug. 1 until the end of the academic year. However, from June 1 to July 31, D-I coaches are allowed an unlimited number of player evaluations. So, the timing of when your events occur does play a critical role in whether coaches decide to attend. Here’s how the type of event factors in. Games that are part of league play, like in the PWHL, JWHL, NEGHL, etc. or any other league event that is considered a ‘league contest’, each game played counts as 1 single evaluation opportunity of the 7 D-I coaches have. Tournaments, showcases, camps, and clinics are considered multi-day events by the NCAA and count only as 1 single evaluation opportunity no matter how many games are played during the event. Watch 7 players play 5 times at the NAHA Labor Day tournament–that’s only 1 evaluation used for every player evaluated at that event, not 5.
Running events are hard work and aren’t easy to run. But by doing most of what is mentioned above, you’ll have coaches that can do their jobs more efficiently and participants who feel like you have their best interests at heart.
USA Hockey announced on Wednesday, July 28 that University of St. Thomas (WCHA) Head Coach Joel Johnson, will be the Head Coach of the 2022 US Women’s Olympic Hockey Team. This will be Johnson’s first trip behind the bench at the Olympics. Needless to say it’s been a busy month for coach Johnson taking over a new D-I program at St. Thomas and now being tabbed to lead the US as they prepare for Worlds and the Olympics. Joel becomes just the 5th Women’s Olympic Hockey Head Coach in US history as he joins some elite company in Ben Smith ’98, ’02, ’06, Mark Johnson ’10-current Wisconsin Head Coach, Katey Stone ’14-current Head Coach at Harvard, and Robb Stauber ’18. This is just the 3rd time a NCAA Women’s D-I Head Coach has named to lead Team USA. You can read more on Johnson’s hire from USA Hockey HERE.
August 1st Approaches
Official and Unofficial Visits for Recruits Entering Grade 11 Begin Sunday… Sunday is a big day in the NCAA recruiting world and in Division I women’s ice hockey as recruits who are entering grade 11 in the fall are allowed to take official as well unofficial visits on an institutions campus while being able to meet with members of the coaching staff as well as have off-campus contact with coaches. Prior to Aug. 1, recruits in entering grade 9 or 10 have been able to visit campuses on their own at their own expense. Contact with the coaching staff has been prohibited however until this Sunday.
Prior to about 2006 or 2007, the official visit was a major important part of the recruiting process. Recruits used it as a serious factor in their decision making process to get to see what like was really like as a potential player in a particular program. That went away when players began committing early. The official visit seemed to happen more often after the commitment was made during grade 12 to meet future teammates etc., it was more of a ‘fun’ visit. When the NCAA rules changes and allowed official visits in the junior year, the official visit became more important again.
Much like the June 15th call date, coaches have a priority list of recruits they will offer the opportunity for an official visit, and in a lot of cases, unofficial visits as well. With official visits, coaches use recruiting funds to pay for travel – and in the new post recruiting COVID era, dollars need to be spent wisely and budgeted against recruiting trip travel for the coaching staff. Why would a staff limit who they invite for an unofficial visits since they don’t have to pay for travel? Time. Every coaching staff has their own way of organizing and planning their visits, but unofficial visits can take just as much time as officials. The problem post COVID is there are more players who want to visit than ever and staffs have only so much man power and time to devote. So, to keep some sanity and eyes on the recruiting trail with evaluations, not everyone who wants an unofficial visit with time spent with the coaching staff will get the opportunity.
One thing we know for sure come Sunday, it’s going to be a very time for coaches.
Krampade All-American Scholars Announced… The American Hockey Coaches Association announced its 5th Annual Krampade All-American Scholar Awards earlier this month. 385 women playing Division I hockey received this distinction by maintaining a minimum of 3.65 GPA in both academic semesters during 2020-2021. A full list of awards winners in each conference can be found HERE.
NCAA Players Dominate Hockey Canada Summer Camps… Hockey Canada recently announced its summer camp rosters for its National Development Team and U18 Next Gen Team (2003’s). 54 players either play at or will enter an NCAA program this fall. Of the 5 D-I NCAA conferences, the ECAC leads the way with 29 players attending camp. You can view the National Women’s Under-18 Team Summer Camp (NextGen) roster HERE and the National Women’s Team Development Team roster HERE.
Something Familiar, Something New… Minnesota Gopher Head Coach Brad Frost announced the addition of 2 Assistant Coaches who will be joining him behind the bench this season. Natalie Darwitz returns for her 2nd stint as an Assistant Coach with the Gophers. Natalie worked with Frost in 2008-09 and again in 2010-11 after the 2010 Olympics before moving on and eventually taking over as Head Coach at D-III Hamline University. Also coming to Ridder via Hamline will be Darwitz’ Assistant Coach Jake Bobrowski. Bobrowski is no stranger to women’s hockey in MN having coached at the Girls HS level for several years as a head coach and then as an Assistant on Darwitz’ staff at Hamline for the past 6 years.
USA Hockey Names U18 National Festival Roster… 32 players will tryout and compete at the USA Hockey Women’s National Festival in Blaine, MN Aug. 5-14. This group of 32 was selected from the U18 Select Camp that was recently held in St. Cloud. You can see the list of U18 Festival players HERE. Of the 32 players, 12 represent Minnesota, 5 from the Central, 5 from Michigan, 4 from the Mid-America, 2 from the New England, and 1 each from Massachusetts, New York, Northern Plains, and Pacific Districts.
Until Next Time…
Grant Kimball is founder and contributing writer at Women’s College Hockey.org. He currently beginning his 3rd season as an Assistant Coach with the Yale University women’s hockey program. Grant has developed an experienced perspective in the world of women’s ice hockey, having coached and recruited players from across the globe during his 25+ year amatuer and NCAA coaching career. He has coached in 6 different NCAA DIII and DI conferences for various institutions in the NCHA (D3), the CHA, WCHA, Hockey East, ECAC, and the Ivy League (DI). Beyond coaching, Grant served as a site representative for the 2019 NCAA quarterfinal of the D-I NCAA Tournament. He also currently serves as an Officer with the American Hockey Coaches Association as Vice President of Membership and sits on the AHCA’s Women’s Hockey Executive Committee.