NCAA DIII Freshman Analysis: November

Earlier in the season we analyzed the NCAA Division I freshman and their early contributions to see who was making an immediate impact, how old they were and what leagues those players came from. We found some interesting results. The USHL dominated statistics and 78 percent of the leading scorers were 19-20-year olds without a single 21-year-old in the top 32 scorers in the country.

It is important to keep a few things in mind before delving too deeply into these statistics. First, over half the players come from sub .500 hockey programs which means there is a slight strength of team bias. This means a 2.5-star prospect might be on the power play for a sub .500-team and have more opportunities to score then a 2.5-star prospect on a nationally ranked team who may not be playing each night.

Secondly, some teams (in NESCAC) have only played a handful of games, so these players will change as the season goes on 15-20 games. We chose to compile a list now, however, to show the “immediate impact” freshmen who were made a difference within the first 5-10 games of the season.

Thirdly, unlike in the DI study, we used points per game and not total points.

Lastly, while analyzing what percentage of top scorers hail from what leagues, it is important to understand how many players from each junior or previous league are currently playing DIII hockey. For example, if there are fewer USHL players than USPHL players in DIII, it would make more sense that the USPHL supplies more top scorers than the USHL. We will have a more in-depth breakdown that deals with this later in the season.

Top 26 Freshman Scorers as of Nov. 28th:

NameBYCollegeP/GMPrevious League Prior to Juniors Rate  
Zack Bross1996Umass Boston1.90NAHLT1EHL U183.25
Greg Pezza1996Conn College1.50USPHL PremierNE Prep2.75
Jake Simons1996Endicott1.50USPHL PremierNE Prep3
Mike Faulkner1996Hobart1.50BCHLNE Prep3.25
Tyler Seltenreich1996U. New England1.50USPHL PremierColorado HS2.75
Sascha Figi1997Fitchburg State1.44NA3HLSwiss Elite (SUI)2.5
James Callahan1997Trinity1.40USPHL PremierNE Prep3.25
Nick Albano1996Umass Boston1.30USHLNE Prep3.25
Connor Landrigan1996Utica1.29NA3HLNE Prep2.75
Nick Bondra1996Amherst1.25USPHL PremierT1EHL U183
Eric Benshadle1996Trinity1.20AJHLNE Prep3.25
Garrett Gintoli1996Milwaukee S.E.1.12EHLConnecticut HS2.5
Jeff Eppright1996U. New England1.12USPHL PremierEJEPL U182.5
Filip Virgili1998Nichols1.12SuperElite (SWE)J18 Elite (SWE)N/A
Danny Eruzione1996Salve Regina1.12NAHLNE Prep3
Reid Bibb1996Buffalo State1.11USPHL PremierUSPHL U183
Zach Pamaylaon1996Bryn Athyn1.00EHLN/A2.5
Alec Grollman1997Bryn Athyn1.00AJHLT1EHL U182.5
Caleb Anderson1997Gustavus Adolphus1.00NA3HLSouth Dakota HS2.5
Graham Day1996Johnson & Wales1.00NA3HLMichigan HS2.5
Michael Fahie1998Middlebury0.89USPHL PremierNE Prep3.25
Vadim Vasjonkin1996Buffalo State0.89USPHL PremierMPHL3
Victor Tracy1996Fredonia0.89CCHLNE Prep2.75
Carson Kelley1996Geneseo0.89NAHLT1EHL U183
Coby Downs1996Norwich0.89SJHLNJPHL U183.25
Matt Muzyka1996Skidmore0.89USPHL PremierNE Prep2.75

We took the top 26 scorers in the league and broke down their age group, previous team, league prior to playing junior hockey and star ratings.

Birth Year

In almost stark opposite from DI, the 21-year-old freshmen make up for a significant 77 percent of the leading freshman scorers. There are no 18-year-olds, two 19-year-olds and four 20-year-olds as opposed to 20 payers who are 21.

Birth Year#%

Previous League

The League distribution is also much different from DI to DIII. The USPHL Premier (now NCDC) was the top producer of scorers, whereas in DI it accounted for none of the top 32 scorers. While the USPHL Premier makes up for over a third of the leading scorers, the NA3HL is second with 15.4 percent of players, producing more than their parent league, the NAHL. The arguably four best junior hockey leagues in North America–USHL, BCHL, NAHL and AJHL–have only produced a combined seven of the top 26 scorers in DIII.

Previous League#%
USPHL Premier1038.5%

League Before Juniors

This has been of growing interest not only to parents and players trying to be recruited, but also for college coaches to know where to recruit. Here again the trends in DI differ from DIII. New England Prep produced 42 percent of top scorers in DIII as opposed to just nine percent in DI. Canadian Midget and Minnesota High School made up over 46 percent of the top scoring DI freshmen, while they didn’t produce a single top-scoring DIII freshman.

Prior to Junior#%
NE Prep1142.3%
T1EHL U18415.4%
USPHL U1813.8%
Michigan HS13.8%
Colorado HS13.8%
Connecticut HS13.8%
South Dakota HS13.8%
NJPHL U1813.8%
EJEPL U1813.8%
Swiss Elite13.8%
J18 Elite13.8%

Star Ratings

The Star Rating data shows that 52 percent of the top-scoring freshmen received a three star rating or higher (typically 3-3.25 stars is the highest ranking for DIII prospects). There was not a single player ranked below 2.5.

Of the top scorers, 28 percent are ranked 2.5, which is the average for DIII prospects. We can see two trends here. First, we likely ranked NA3HL prospects too low as they make up three of the seven players with a 2.5 star rating. And secondly, a 2.5 on a sub-.500 team could get more opportunities than a three star prospect on a nationally-ranked team.

Star Rating#%

What we learned

There isn’t one Canadian in the top 26 freshman scorers in DIII hockey. This is likely due to the lower number of Canadians playing DIII with the current Canadian-U.S. Dollar exchange rate. Also, many highly ranked DIII prospects (3.0-3.25 stars) are finding homes with CIS/U Sport teams in Canada.

We also learned to be careful assuming “immediate impact” prospects only belong to the top junior leagues or that what is true in DI is true in DIII. The NA3HL may have made the biggest statement of any league as it ranks second in producing DIII immediate-impact point producers.

There is also a fascinating trend that shows 21-year-old freshmen make up over 75 percent of the top freshman DIII scorers, while they made up none of the top DI scorers. At the DI level it is statistically proven that 21-year-old freshmen tend to have lower output both in games played and points produced. However, in DI it makes sense because the most talented prospects are around 18 or 19. That is not the case in DIII. This shows that in order to player DIII, most players will likely have to play several years of junior hockey. Less players are going straight from high school or prep hockey to DIII.

Lastly, we see DIII level has a strong eastern bias with the high percentage of USPHL Premier and New England Prep prospects. There are no Canadians or Minnesota High School players, and just five players came from Canadian junior leagues.

Photo Credit: Hickling Images