The USPHL tweeted out their NCAA Hockey "Commitment" numbers for this past Junior Hockey season and mentioned that they had a total of 311 total commitments to the NCAA Level. Surprisingly enough, there are some complications with these numbers in our opinion.
The best part about the USPHL's tweet is that they say "We wish them all the best next year in the NCAA Hockey". But if you look up half these kids, they already have played their freshman year at the college level.
At first glance, some people may think "oh wow that's a lot of commitments". However, if you just randomly pick a player off this list and run their name through www.eliteprospects.com you will likely see that they either didn't play in the USPHL at all or they played in the USPHL in the 2018-19 season and already have a year of college hockey under their belt.
The issue with this tweet is that it is pushing the narrative that the USPHL has all these commitments from one season and the people that are reading this are players and parents that are trying to figure out where they wish to play this upcoming season and the numbers seem to be inflated a bit.
We decided to look through the list and randomly pick out some players. We ended up choosing an Arizona State University committed player by the name of Zak Brice. Oddly enough Zak made the USPHL committed list and guess what, he NEVER played in the USPHL.
They counted a goalie that never played in the USPHL, but he did play a preseason game against a USPHL club, so obviously that counts as a commitment for the USPHL. This keeps going on and on. It wouldn't be suprising if the real commitment numbers were half the amount of commitments that the USPHL has claimed for this past season. We are also inclined to believe that since Zak's commitment year is 2022-23, he will be listed as a commitment for the next few seasons in the USPHL until he officially enrolls at ASU.
The reason we care about this is that most people involved in the game of hockey will notice that these numbers are not what they portray to be, but the ones that won't and happen to be the most important are the parents and players that are new to the Junior Hockey Landscape. They look at this list and think that the USPHL has a solid record of sending kids to college, but they won't realize that these numbers are not entirely accurate.
Here are just a few examples from some basic research:
Austin Master played 1 game in the USPHL in the 2018-19 season and then 43 games for the Little Flyers in the EHL, and was a huge piece of their team. Austin played this past year at Stevenson University, yet he is listed as a 2019-20 commit for the USPHL.
Jake Ballagh, a similar story to Master, playing 10 games in the USPHL during the 2018-19 season, then finished his season with the New Hampshire Avalanche in the EHL. He also just finished his freshman year at SUNY Cortland (2019-20 season) and yet still listed as a 2019-20 commitment for the USPHL.
Noah Kane, played in the NCDC during the 2018-19 season then ADVANCED to the NAHL for the Maine Nordiques and committed to Mercyhurst University for the 2020-21 season, but still considered a 2019-20 USPHL commitment even though he never played a game in the USPHL during the 2019-20 season.
The above are just a few examples of how this "2019-20 USPHL Commitment List" is not telling the whole truth. However, I will extend an olive branch here... The USPHL is a good stomping ground for Junior Hockey, they do in fact commit players to college and high levels. But this action right here is very skeptical and harmful to the Junior Hockey community. Commitments are like currency in the Junior Hockey world. They are what every club owner and league executive wants. They help solidify a player's choice of where to spend a year playing. They also help parents justify paying upwards of $20,000 for a season of hockey for their kids. So, it is important information that should not be altered in order to prop a league or specific organization up on a pedestal.
Lastly, if you made it this far. I would like to say, do your research. Just like anything, don't just believe something just because someone is saying it or you read it on Twitter. Research it and come up with your own conclusions. It really comes down to a question of methodology. There is no "standardized' way of collecting this data. What leagues should do, including the USPHL, is reference their methodology - how did they come up with this arbitrary '311' number?