For young players in Minnesota, the path is fixed but schedules may vary

Noah Kitts made his National Hockey League debut just days after his notable collegiate career ended at Minnesota Duluth (Photo: Brad Rimple)

Written by Sean Hogan, Jason Hajdu and Mike Snee

hockey land, the much-anticipated film documenting a season of Minnesota boys’ high school hockey in Hermantown and Eveleth, and set to hit theaters tomorrow. College Hockey Inc. thought. Now is the time to publish our findings from a comprehensive Minnesota-focused research project that we have just concluded.

The aspiring NCAA Division I men’s hockey player in the years leading up to his college hockey career is heavily influenced by where that player grows. In June 2022, College Hockey Inc. Release the results From our project that looked at the trails of 156 Michigan men who earned NCAA Division I hockey commitments from May 14, 2018 through November 15, 2021. Now we present results from our project looking into the trails of 194 Minnesota men who earned NCAA Division I hockey commitments the first during the same period.

Despite the state’s smaller population, no state or county sends more players to NCAA Division I men’s hockey each year than Minnesota. Noteworthy topics that emerged from the Minnesota study:

  • In Minnesota, high school hockey is the undisputed dominant track of NCAA Division I men’s hockey. The vast majority of Minnesota players travel the same route to college hockey, spending several years playing for their community youth hockey leagues and then for high school hockey teams.
  • The median age of commitment in Minnesota was 18.5, which is half a year lower than the national average of 19 years.
  • The vast majority of committed Minnesota players will play high school hockey during their freshman year and then transfer to the USHL or NAHL after their first year of high school.
  • Only five committed players have played junior level three hockey full time. All five started their career in third level hockey after completing their hockey eligibility in high school.

“For the best male hockey players in Minnesota, the path to the highest levels of hockey is very clear and easy to understand — play for the youth hockey league in your community and then at your high school,” said USA Hockey Coach Mike McMillan. -president.

Data: Hockey before the NCAA

The vast majority of players in Minnesota will earn NCAA Division I obligations between ages 18 and 19 while playing high school or NCAA-qualified junior hockey. The average age of these commitments is 18.5 years (the average national commitment age is 19), while the oldest commitment was 21.6 years. It should be noted that the average age of commitment will likely continue to age as the NCAA enlistment rules changes implemented in May 2019 take full effect.

Of the 194 commitments made by Minnesota players studied by College Hockey Inc. Of them, 171 played hockey in high school and 140 played hockey in high school as adults.

Where committed players played during their senior year of high school:
league number.
Minnesota High School 140
No data/Not old yet 8
United States NTDP 8
nhl 7
to equip 5
18U AAA 1
National Collegiate Athletic Association 1

Minnesota is the only state in the country where high school hockey players have made more commitments than any other league, with 60 of 194 commitments coming in while playing in high school compared to 59 while playing in the NAHL and 47 while playing in the USHL.

However, it is important to understand that most players who committed while playing in the USHL or NAHL will not earn their commitment until after high school graduation. There is little evidence to suggest that leaving high school early will lead to faster commitment. In fact, it will likely add another year of junior hockey to a junior hockey career.

Only seventeen players played NCAA Division I hockey in their first year after high school: seven from high school hockey, five from the US NTDP, four from the USHL and one from prep hockey.

Where did the committed players play when they got their commitments?
league number.
Minnesota High School 60
nhl 59
to equip 8
16U 5
United States NTDP 3
Minnesota Bantam 2
15U 2
14U AAA 1

“Once high school is over, for most future college hockey players from Minnesota that means one or two seasons in the USHL or NAHL before college,” MacMillan said. “The idea of ​​each player having their own track is not accurate for a player from Minnesota. Most college hockey players from Minnesota have the same track. They just have different schedules.”

Case Study: Noah Keats

Noah Kitts, a native of Stillwater, Minnesota, made his National Hockey League debut with the Philadelphia Flyers on March 29, 2022, just days after his notable collegiate career ended at the Minnesota Duluth.

Cates was a champion for four years and captain for the Bulldog team for two years, which won the NCAA Division I men’s championship during the Cates’ new season. En route to Minnesota Duluth and the NCAA, Keats honed his development at the Stillwater District Youth Hockey Association and Stillwater High School. Like most Minnesota residents who would play college hockey, Kitts chose to stay in his first season rather than leave early to the junior ranks.

Keats, who dreamed of winning a state high school championship with his lifelong Stillwater teammates and best friends, told College Hockey Inc. He was careful to avoid the idea that you could hasten development.

“It never crossed my mind the decision to leave for the juniors,” said Keats, now 23. “Staying in high school in my senior year gave me the opportunity to dominate the ice and be in all situations and develop my game, with or without the puck.

“It gave me the closure I wanted on and off the ice, getting me ready for my next flight, rather than ‘what if’ about different scenarios or situations in my career.”

Whether it’s the Cats, or Blake Biondi from Minnesota Duluth and the Holy Cross, Will Troutwine, both featured in hockey landthe road to Minnesota College of Hockey passes through High School Hockey.


College Hockey Inc. has produced. Four separate ‘tracks’ studies: A Comprehensive examination In 2020, a Goalkeeper’s 2021 analysis, a Michigan collapse, and now this fourth study focuses specifically on Minnesota.