Sep. 25—College Hockey Inc., is losing its deputy executive director.
Nate Ewell, who has been with College Hockey Inc., since its inception in 2011, has accepted a job with the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights.
Ewell has played a leading role in college hockey's public relations and education efforts during a booming era, which has seen a record number of college hockey players in the NHL and an expansion in the number of NCAA Division-I schools that sponsor the sport, a particularly notable feat during an era better known for budget cuts.
Ewell, the organization's No. 2 behind executive director Mike Snee, served in several capacities for College Hockey Inc.
A master at researching, developing and maintaining statistical and informational databases, Ewell used those skills in a number of ways — from compiling notes and stats for media members to educating potential prospects on college hockey to aiding colleges and universities seeking to add Division-I hockey programs.
The results have been notable for college hockey.
That begins with the heated, never-ending battle between NCAA and Canadian major junior teams for top prospects, something that helped prompt the formation of College Hockey Inc.
In the four-year span between 2010-13 when College Hockey Inc., was getting up and running, 16 of 24 Americans taken in the first round of the NHL Draft played in Canadian major juniors (67 percent).
In the most recent four-year span (2018-21), roughly the same number of American players were drafted in the first round (23), but not a single one has played Canadian major juniors. All but Jack Hughes — who went straight from the U.S. Under-18 Team to the NHL — played college hockey or are currently in college.
In the last four years, six Canadian first-round picks have ended up coming to the United States for college, too, including the 2021 No. 1 overall pick, Owen Power of Michigan, as well as UND's Jacob Bernard-Docker.
College hockey players now make up roughly 33 percent of NHLers, the highest percentage ever. That number was at 20 percent in 2000. A record 327 college hockey players suited up in the last full NHL season (2018-19).
The sport also has been expanding.
When College Hockey Inc., formed, there were 58 Division-I men's teams. That number has increased — even if Alabama Huntsville and Robert Morris are unable to bring their programs back from hiatus — because of the additions of Penn State, Arizona State, Long Island University and St. Thomas.
Other schools such as Lindenwood (Mo.) and Augustana (S.D.) have announced their intentions of starting D-I programs. Illinois, Navy and Tennessee State are exploring the idea of adding the sport.
Ewell was influential in all of those developments, leading seminars around North America for top prospects who are trying to choose between NCAA and Canadian major junior as well as compiling data for schools that wish to be better informed and prepared to make the Division-I hockey jump.
Ewell is the only full-time staff member at College Hockey Inc., who has been there since the start. Snee replaced the original director Paul Kelly in 2012. Sean Hogan joined as the director of athlete relations in 2019. Kathy Wynters, who stepped down as Hockey East's associate commissioner in 2020, serves as the business manager.
Prior to joining College Hockey Inc., Ewell served as the Washington Capitals' vice president for communications, where he led a staff that won four consecutive Dick Dillman Awards as the top media relations group in the NHL's Eastern Conference. Washington's general manager at the time was George McPhee, who is now the president of hockey operations for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Ewell attended college at Princeton and worked as a sports info director at Michigan State. He also co-founded the website, Inside College Hockey.
College Hockey Inc., is expected to use a national search to find Ewell's successor.