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The path to college hockey

04/25/2018, 10:45am CDT
By Kevin Kurtt - Let's Play Hockey Editor

Over 1,000 Minnesota natives have played NCAA Division I hockey the last eight seasons


As of April 26, 260 Minnesota natives have committed to an NCAA Division I men’s or women’s hockey program. Photo: Bob Perzel

Every year, thousands of athletes in numerous sports sign their name to a National Letter of Intent (NLI), fulfilling a dream of earning a scholarship to play Division I or II college athletics. That dream has become a reality for countless hockey players over the years in Minnesota, and this season is no different.

As of April 26, 260 Minnesotans (158 boys, 102 girls) have capped their recruiting process and have verbally or officially become scholarship college student-athletes. Among those 260 are 154 players (59 boys, 95 girls) who played in Minnesota high school hockey this past season. Hundreds more will play college hockey at one of the nation’s many Division III institutions. The numbers will only grow as more commitments surely will come in the spring and summer.

In addition to the 59 high school boys’ hockey players who will play college hockey, 92 other Minnesotans bound for college are currently playing their hockey on one of the many junior teams across North America. The United States Hockey League (USHL) and North American Hockey League (NAHL) are home to 58 and 20 future college hockey players from Minnesota, respectively. Four Minnesota natives with Division I college commitments are currently playing for the U.S. National Team Development Program in Michigan.

On the girls’ side, 95 of the 102 Minnesota-based players set for college played high school hockey this past season. Of the remaining six players, five played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s (Faribault, Minn.), one player attended Gentry Academy (St. Paul, Minn.) and one played at the Hockey Training Institute (Mulmur, Ont.).

When looking at the current list of Minnesota natives who have committed to a Division I men’s or women’s hockey program, a profile of a “typical” player emerges. For boys, about 70 percent of players with a college commitment come from a Class AA public school in the Twin Cities metro area. 

The majority (66 percent) of commitments took place during or after a player’s junior year in high school. Of note, only 20 of the 158 players made their college commitments after leaving high school hockey early. The vast majority (87 percent) of Minnesota boys headed to Division I either made their commitment while in high school, made their commitment before leaving high school early OR made their commitment after graduation.

The numbers are similar for girls with the majority also coming from a Class AA public school in the Twin Cities metro area. However, the data differs in regards to when players make their college commitments. For girls, the majority (71 percent) of commitments took place before a player’s junior year in high school.

Since the start of the 2010-11 season, 1,011 Minnesota natives (586 men, 425 women) have played college hockey at the Division I level.

But what Minnesota high schools are producing the most Division I hockey players? Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s Edina that has advanced the most players to college hockey’s top level. Between 2010 and today, the Hornets boast 56 Division I players – 33 men and 23 women. 

Following the Hornets are Benilde-St. Margaret’s (43 total DI players), Hill-Murray (41), Shattuck-St. Mary’s (38), Minnetonka (36) and Eden Prairie (35). 

It should come as no surprise that Minnesota’s hockey players are getting noticed by college scouts with the multitude of exposure opportunities available.

Prior to the high school season, the Upper Midwest High School Elite League  has been an invaluable resource for both players and scouts alike. The Elite League provided exposure to nearly all of the 110 Minnesota natives who have committed to a Division I institution. 

Once the Minnesota high school season rolls around, the exposure continues as numerous regular season games are broadcast both on TV and the Internet. And, of course, come February and March, the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournaments provide yet another chance for players to be seen, both live at the Xcel Energy Center and across the state via TV.

After the high school season, the Ted Brill Great 8 All-Star Hockey Festival gives Minnesota’s top graduating seniors another chance to impress the scouts. For over 30 years, the Great 8 has grown and expanded over the years to include eight teams and 80 players today. Following the Great 8, 40 players are invited to represent Minnesota at the eight-team CCM Minnesota High School Hockey National Invitational Tournament.

Yet another exposure opportunity exists with the CCM Minnesota Hockey High Performance Programs that are designed to identify and develop the top 14-, 15-, 16-, 17- and 18-year-old hockey players in Minnesota. The top players at each level are then provided national exposure at the USA Hockey National Festival Camps.

Playing college hockey is a dream of countless players in the State of Hockey. That dream became reality for the 257 Minnesota natives who have committed to a men’s or women’s NCAA Division I hockey program.  

Current Commits to Division I Men’s Hockey Programs – Minnesota Natives

POSITION # PCT.
Forwards 94 59%
Defense 52 33%
Goalies 12 8%
MSHSL CLASS # PCT.
Class AA 110 70%
Class A 33 21%
Shattuck-St. Mary's 10 6%
Other 5 3%
SCHOOL TYPE # PCT.
Public 110 70%
Private 33 21%
Shattuck-St. Mary's 10 6%
Other 5 3%
HOMETOWN AREA # PCT.
Metro 111 70%
North 27 17%
South 12 8%
Central 8 5%
YEAR WHEN COMMIT # PCT.
Graduate 40 25%
Senior 41 26%
Junior 24 15%
Sophomore 30 19%
Freshman 23 15%
PROJECTED STARTING YEAR # PCT.
2018-19 79 50%
2019-20 43 27%
2020-21 21 13%
2021-22 13 8%
2022-23 2 1%

Current Commits to Division I Women’s Hockey Programs – Minnesota Natives

POSITION # PCT.
Forwards 64 63%
Defense 28 27%
Goalies 10 10%
MSHSL CLASS # PCT.
Class AA 79 77%
Class A 16 16%
Shattuck-St. Mary's 5 5%
Other 2 2%
SCHOOL TYPE # PCT.
Public 69 68%
Private 26 25%
Shattuck-St. Mary's 5 5%
Other 2 2%
HOMETOWN AREA # PCT.
Metro 86 84%
South 8 8%
North 7 7%
Central 1 1%
YEAR WHEN COMMIT # PCT.
Senior 11 11%
Junior 19 19%
Sophomore 56 55%
Freshman 15 15%
8th Grade 1 1%
PROJECTED STARTING YEAR # PCT.
2018-19 41 40%
2019-20 31 30%
2020-21 21 21%
2021-22 8 8%
2022-23 1 1%

Top-producing Minnesota High Schools to Division I Hockey (2010-18) • Top 50

# HIGH SCHOOL ENROLLMENT MEN WOMEN TOTAL
1 Edina 2626 33 23 56
2 Benilde-St. Margaret's 892 25 18 43
3 Hill-Murray 629 29 12 41
4 Shattuck-St. Mary's 432 30 8 38
5 Minnetonka 3044 19 17 36
6 Eden Prairie 2804 19 16 35
7 Blaine 2658 15 11 26
8 St. Thomas Academy 988 23 0 23
9 Burnsville 2191 14 6 20
10 Blake 523 6 13 19
Breck 478 10 9 19
Lakeville North 1717 14 5 19
13 Elk River 1500 11 6 17
Wayzata 3120 12 5 17
15 Holy Angels 624 14 2 16
Lakeville South 1721 9 7 16
Roseau 305 8 8 16
Roseville 1903 3 13 16
19 Duluth East 1378 13 2 15
Hopkins 1838 4 11 15
Moorhead 1514 12 3 15
22 Grand Rapids 972 7 7 14
Hermantown 629 12 2 14
Maple Grove 2170 7 7 14
Stillwater 2595 6 8 14
Warroad 283 6 8 14
White Bear Lake 1995 11 3 14
28 Eagan 1910 5 8 13
29 Centennial 1888 8 3 11
30 Andover 1638 5 5 10
Bloomington Jefferson 1556 7 3 10
Cloquet 594 6 4 10
Eastview 2058 6 4 10
34 Apple Valley 1392 7 2 9
Bemidji 1179 5 4 9
Cretin-Derham Hall 1145 5 4 9
Forest Lake 1874 7 2 9
Mounds View 1712 2 7 9
39 Brainerd 1640 8 0 8
Mahtomedi 1136 6 2 8
Totino-Grace 734 6 2 8
42 Chaska 1270 1 6 7
East Grand Forks 489 5 2 7
Hibbing 569 6 1 7
Red Wing 692 2 5 7
South St. Paul 799 4 3 7
47 Holy Family 394 6 0 6
International Falls 335 5 1 6
New Prague 1250 3 3 6
St. Cloud Cathedral 438 5 1 6
Woodbury 1776 5 1 6

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Tag(s): State Of Hockey  News  College  Kevin Kurtt