of the Game
States of the Game
do college hockey players come from?
Freshman Stephen Werner of Chevy Chase, Md.,
stands fourth on the team in scoring at Massachusetts (10-18—28
in 31 GP). He leads the Minutemen with a +13 rating.
Perhaps nothing explains the rise of players from non-traditional
hockey areas like in-line hockey. Nebraska-Omaha's Micah Sanford
– a Las Vegas native – has successfully made the
switch from wheels to blades.
Breakdown by State, Province and Country
• Breakdown by League:
East | MAAC
up a game program, seen a strange hometown and wondered how a player
from California, Arizona or Austria wound up playing college hockey?
be alone. Except lately, those hometowns are becoming less and less
unusual. Today, it’s almost as common as spotting a Massachusetts
license plate on a New Hampshire highway, or a Green Bay Packers
sticker on a car in Minnesota.
Not convinced? For a
more complete view, take a look at the links to the right –
Inside College Hockey compiled data from all 60 Division I men’s
hockey teams, and the results might surprise you. It may not quite
mirror Congress or the U.N., but the makeup of college hockey today
is much more diverse than the traditional dominance of players from
Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota and Canada.
head coach Don Cahoon has a perfect example on his hands, as a Maryland
product – freshman Stephen Werner – has been integral
in the turnaround at Massachusetts’ largest state university.
Just four years ago at Princeton, Cahoon coached Jeff Halpern, one
of the only D.C.-area players in college hockey at the time. Now
Werner is joined by 10 other Marylanders in the college ranks.
And Werner’s just
like you, grabbing game programs and checking for players from non-hockey
something I’m very proud of,” Werner says. “I’m
always looking on the rosters to see if there are guys I know from
back home, and there are quite a few. Already this year I’ve
seen guys like Tim Judy at Northeastern, Jason Costa at Dartmouth.”
It may be hard
to believe, but California (20) and Maryland (10) have combined
to produce more college players than North Dakota (15) and Maine
(11). Arizona, Georgia and Texas each have four players in college
hockey, with more committed for next season. While Massachusetts,
Michigan and Minnesota natives still make up over 32 percent of
the players in the game, 35 of the 50 states are represented in
the college game.
The top college players from non-traditional
Mike McKenna, St. Lawrence (St. Louis, Mo.)
D: John-Michael Liles, Michigan State (Zionsville, Ind.)
D: Garrett Stafford, New Hampshire (Los Angeles, Calif.)
F: Noah Clarke, Colorado College (La Verne, Calif.)
F: Stephen Werner, Massachusetts (Chevy Chase, Md.)
F: John Sabo, Boston University (Harding Township, N.J.)
roster alone has players from 11 states, including Georgia, Oregon
and Washington. Boston University Terriers hail from seven states
and four countries. Colorado College has players from six states
and four countries.
CC head coach
Scott Owens may be the biggest beneficiary of the growing European
trend, as Slovakian Peter Sejna has fueled the Tigers’ surge
to become the No. 1 team in the nation. The numbers of Europeans
pale in comparison to those from non-hockey hotbeds – there
are a total of 39 Europeans in college hockey this year –
but their talent is undeniable.
Sejna is all
but assured of becoming just the second European in as many years
to be named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award – following
Cornell’s Doug Murray, a Swede, last year. In addition to
players like Sejna and Murray, all-league candidates Thomas Pock
(Massachusetts), Colin Shields (Maine) and Thomas Vanek (Minnesota)
have helped fuel their teams’ success.
The top college players from Europe
Matti Kaltiainen, Boston College (Espoo, Finland)
D: Doug Murray, Cornell (Bromma, Sweden)
D: Thomas Pöck, Massachusetts (Klagenfurt, Austria)
F: Peter Sejna, Colorado College (Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia
F: Colin Shields, Maine (Glasgow, Scotland)
F: Thomas Vanek, Minnesota (Graz, Austria)
influence) is a real recent thing for college hockey,” Owens
said. “And we’re definitely seeing an explosion of players
from the non-traditional areas.”
Cahoon says, “It’s
not like I’ve spent a lot of time watching games in Maryland.”
Likewise, Owens insists,
“It’s not like college coaches are over in Slovakia
So how are these players
finding their way from far-flung places into college hockey rinks
Much of the credit belongs
on the junior level, where coaches, scouts and agents are putting
in the legwork to identify talented players and bring them to established
junior teams. College coaches tend to see them once they are there
– not in their natural environments.
example, received a couple of type-written recruiting letters while
playing for the Washington Junior Capitals. After Jim Hunt, then
a scout for the U.S. National Team Development Program, recommended
him to the program in Ann Arbor, the floodgates opened.
10 College Hockey Producing States/Provinces
The route for European
players is remarkably similar. Sejna came from Slovakia to the USHL
before attending Colorado College.
“I think a lot
of it has to do with more family advisors identifying good European
players and getting them on to USHL teams,” Owens says. “The
goal of the family advisor is to get them over here and get them
used to North American hockey and North American life before they
go in the draft. It helps them acclimate to the language and the
culture a little bit.”
Different players take
different paths, of course. Matti Kaltiainen, Boston College’s
Finnish goaltender, didn’t play junior hockey, but wound up
in college when the Boston Bruins, who drafted him, recommended
him to Eagles coach Jerry York.
And while they don’t
have to go overseas, players from non-hockey hotbeds have to travel
similar distances to build their skills and get recognized. Halpern
tells how his father put 200,000 miles on their Dodge Caravan, traveling
from Maryland to New Hampshire and back – twice in one weekend
– for games.
“I think it’s
always harder to come from a non-traditional hockey area,”
Werner says. “The competition’s not as strong when you’re
playing within your state or even within your district. And it’s
harder to find time to play, because there’s a real lack of
ice. I would go from rink to rink to play pick up, traveling up
to an hour.”
The USHL limits imports,
or non-North American players, to two per team, so the number of
Europeans may not grow dramatically unless coaches make more recruiting
forays overseas (and despite Owens’ comment about not scouting
in Slovakia, a handful of college assistant coaches have made ventures
to the Old World).
But everybody agrees
that the growth in non-traditional areas through the U.S. will continue.
near future,” Owens says, “you’re going to see
college hockey players coming out of places like Dallas, Utah, Phoenix
and even Montana, thanks to the NHL’s expansion and the growth
of the America West League.”
reporting by Jess Myers. Statistics in this report are based on
players' hometowns listed on rosters supplied by schools to collegehockeystats.com
(CHA, ECAC, MAAC, WCHA) or league Web sites (CCHA, Hockey East)
as of Dec. 25, 2002.
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