NCAA DIII Goalies: Where do They Come From?

By Brian Daccord and Matt Ouellette


As December is upon us the NCAA Division III college hockey season is fully underway as teams in all ten leagues* now have their rosters finalized. This season, eighty-eight freshman goalies have started their collegiate career in hopes of leading their team to a national title. Unlike NCAA Division I goalies, DIII athletes do not commit in prior years to entering school so their last team played for determines the last step in the recruiting process and therefore exhibits recruiting trends.  The following is a breakdown of where NCAA Division III freshman goalies played last season.

NCAA Division III Goalies…Where do they come from?

Of the 88 freshman goalies, 70 of them played junior hockey last season. 47 played in the United States and 23 played in Canadian junior leagues. 16 goalies entered college directly from Prep (13) and US High School (3). The remaining 2 goalies entered the collegiate ranks through Midget hockey.


Inside the numbers:

It has been the norm for Division I colleges to have their players, particularly goalies, take a gap year or two by playing junior hockey before entering as a full time student. It appears that the Division III colleges have followed suit with the vast majority of goalies coming through the junior ranks. In the last two years, Prep Schools had eight goalies commit to DI schools, an average of four per year. 13 Prep goalies are now in their rookie DIII college season. 26% of incoming DIII goalies played Canadian junior hockey last season while an average of 13% of D1 commits are incoming Canadian junior goalies.


NCAA Division III Goalies…What leagues do they come from?


Looking at the country as a whole, as opposed to splitting demographics by the East and West, the following is a look at which leagues produce the most Division III goalies. The Eastern Hockey League (EHL) is the number one supplier of DII goalies with 17 followed by Prep Schools at 13. The NA3HL has eight alums graduating to DIII college hockey while the OHL and USPHL Elite each boast five a piece. The North American Hockey League (NAHL) and the Western States Hockey League each produced four goalies.


Inside the numbers:

In total, 24 leagues contributed to supplying Division III college hockey with goalies as opposed to 15 at the DI level. It is fair to say that the DIII recruiters have a broader net in which to identify and recruit talent. It is important to note that this research was by league and not nationality and no European leagues appeared on this list. A European goalie may be a current freshman but played last season in North America.

NCAA Division III Goalies…What leagues do East and West goalies come from?

In the East, 30 goalies entered Division III hockey from the United States junior ranks out of the 51 total. 11 came through Prep Schools, seven from Canadian juniors with two midget goalies and one high school represented. In the West, 33 of the 37 frosh goalies played junior hockey last season with 17 in the US and 16 in Canada. Only two Prep goalies landed in DIII West schools and two High School goalies.

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Inside the numbers:

Regardless if the school is located on the East or the West, junior hockey is the path most used to get to DIII hockey. Prep Schools place goalies almost exclusively in the east and there is minimal movement from Midget or High School hockey directly into college. A Canadian junior goalie is much more likely to end up in a western based Division III league than in the East.


The growth of junior hockey over the past ten years and its impact on recruiting is evident in these numbers. The likelihood of a goalie moving from a Prep School or High School directly into college continues to diminish. Although Prep and HS may be excellent opportunities to develop, junior hockey is predominantly the last step before matriculating at Division III college. Canadian junior leagues are producing roughly twice as many DIII goalies as DI goalies.


*Northeast 10 Conference (Division II) goalies were included in this study. The Northeast 10 Conference is the only DII NCAA conference and plays for their own title while playing a largely DIII schedule.

**In the Chart “NCAA Division III Goalies…What leagues do they come from?”, Other leagues with less than four goalies each include AJHL, NOJHL, USHS, USP3 at three each; CCHL, GMHL, Midget, SIJHL, SJHL, USPHL Midwest, USPHL Premier at two each; MnJHL, KIJHL, GOJHL, MJAHL, MJHL, USHL at one each.


~ Brian Daccord is a former goalie coach of the Boston Bruins and currently the goaltending coach of Adler Mannheim in the German DEL. He is a co-founder of the Foundation for Goaltending Research and Education and founder of Stop It Goaltending. Matt Ouellette is a former goaltender and currently a business major at Endicott College.

Statistical sources:, USCHO, and School websites.