The Math of College Hockey

How hard is it to play college hockey? Let’s do some very rough math.

Assumptions: On average, every college team is bringing in 7 new players per season (7 players in a class x 4 classes = 28 players). For the sake of these calculations, we are going to assume that all college hockey players come from the United States (we know this is not true, so the odds will be lower than seen here). We will also look at one age bracket to get a better feel for what a recruiting pool looks like.

In 2012-2013, USA Hockey had 28,961 registered members at the 17-18 age level (midget major). Let’s assume that this is our talent pool.

There are 59 Division I hockey programs. There are 74 Division III hockey programs. This gives us a total of 133 hockey teams.

Assuming a class of 7, there are 413 Division I freshmen and 518 Division III freshmen every year. A total of 931 freshmen across the country.

IF all players in college hockey came from the midget major level in 2012-13, the odds of playing Division I hockey stand at 1.42% and college hockey overall are 3.21%.

You could make the argument to double those numbers, as players spend two years at the midget major level. Doing that gives a player in any given birth year a 6.43% chance of playing college hockey and a 2.83% chance of playing Division I college hockey.

This fails to take into account the roughly 30,500 Canadians playing at the midget major level in any given year – essentially cutting the odds in half (Hockey Canada reports an overall registration level that is 1.0528 times larger than USA Hockey – I multiplied the USA Hockey 17-18 registration number by this variable). College hockey is also becoming increasingly diverse, with players from Europe growing in number every year.

The takeaway? It is extremely hard to be recruited to play college hockey. College hockey as a whole is a high level of play with very talented student-athletes. The pyramid only gets smaller as you go up. Appreciate the opportunity and enjoy the journey – you’re one of a select few who will ever get the chance.