By Brendan Collins
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:
|Name||BY||College||P/GM||Previous League||Prior to Juniors||Rate|
|Zack Bross||1996||Umass Boston||1.90||NAHL||T1EHL U18||3.25|
|Greg Pezza||1996||Conn College||1.50||USPHL Premier||NE Prep||2.75|
|Jake Simons||1996||Endicott||1.50||USPHL Premier||NE Prep||3|
|Mike Faulkner||1996||Hobart||1.50||BCHL||NE Prep||3.25|
|Tyler Seltenreich||1996||U. New England||1.50||USPHL Premier||Colorado HS||2.75|
|Sascha Figi||1997||Fitchburg State||1.44||NA3HL||Swiss Elite (SUI)||2.5|
|James Callahan||1997||Trinity||1.40||USPHL Premier||NE Prep||3.25|
|Nick Albano||1996||Umass Boston||1.30||USHL||NE Prep||3.25|
|Connor Landrigan||1996||Utica||1.29||NA3HL||NE Prep||2.75|
|Nick Bondra||1996||Amherst||1.25||USPHL Premier||T1EHL U18||3|
|Eric Benshadle||1996||Trinity||1.20||AJHL||NE Prep||3.25|
|Garrett Gintoli||1996||Milwaukee S.E.||1.12||EHL||Connecticut HS||2.5|
|Jeff Eppright||1996||U. New England||1.12||USPHL Premier||EJEPL U18||2.5|
|Filip Virgili||1998||Nichols||1.12||SuperElite (SWE)||J18 Elite (SWE)||N/A|
|Danny Eruzione||1996||Salve Regina||1.12||NAHL||NE Prep||3|
|Reid Bibb||1996||Buffalo State||1.11||USPHL Premier||USPHL U18||3|
|Zach Pamaylaon||1996||Bryn Athyn||1.00||EHL||N/A||2.5|
|Alec Grollman||1997||Bryn Athyn||1.00||AJHL||T1EHL U18||2.5|
|Caleb Anderson||1997||Gustavus Adolphus||1.00||NA3HL||South Dakota HS||2.5|
|Graham Day||1996||Johnson & Wales||1.00||NA3HL||Michigan HS||2.5|
|Michael Fahie||1998||Middlebury||0.89||USPHL Premier||NE Prep||3.25|
|Vadim Vasjonkin||1996||Buffalo State||0.89||USPHL Premier||MPHL||3|
|Victor Tracy||1996||Fredonia||0.89||CCHL||NE Prep||2.75|
|Carson Kelley||1996||Geneseo||0.89||NAHL||T1EHL U18||3|
|Coby Downs||1996||Norwich||0.89||SJHL||NJPHL U18||3.25|
|Matt Muzyka||1996||Skidmore||0.89||USPHL Premier||NE Prep||2.75|
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.
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.
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.
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||#||%|
|South Dakota HS||1||3.8%|
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.
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