In the aftermath of the 2011-12 NCAA season, one which produced the finest graduating class ever, it may have been easy to write off the 2012-13 season as a transitional one. Instead, the opposite has occurred. The freshman class has turned the NCAA on its ear, and in doing so, the balance of power in the league has been altered.
The one aspect that has changed recruiting is the National Under-18 programs. With Canada and the United States having won the first five gold medals in the history of the competition, a player that competes in that tournament will quickly appear on the recruiting radar.
Another game changer in NCAA women’s hockey is the rapidly growing quality of the goaltending position. The 2012-13 campaign has featured the likes of Emerance Maschmeyer, Elaine Chuli and Amanda Leveille emerging as future superstars in the making.
Freshman Hannah Brandt has helped the Minnesota Golden Gophers to an undefeated October and November, while establishing herself as a contender for the Patty Kazmaier Award. Clarkson recruit Erin Ambrose is making a strong argument that she will be a key player for the 2018 Canadian Winter Games team. Her presence is helping Clarkson to a Top 10 national ranking.
While the future promises many great moments from these remarkable rookies, there are ten that have emerged as key players in the success that their respective programs are enjoying. This collection of elite recruits has brought some programs hope, while bringing others the reassurance that they shall retain their competitive status for the seasons to come.