Saying it out loud raises a few eyebrows because of how unbelievable it all sounds.

It’s been 30 years since a Division I men’s college hockey player has scored 100 points in a season.

“Really?! Wait, I’m shocked! I’m actually surprised!” said New Jersey Devils forward Miles Wood, who played at Boston College.

Go through the list of the dynamic forwards who have come through college hockey in the time since it last happened. Kyle Connor. Jack Eichel. Johnny Gaudreau. Phil Kessel. Brendan Morrison. Zach Parise. Martin St. Louis. Thomas Vanek.

None of them had a 100-point season. Morrison was the closest when he finished with 88 points during the 1996-97 season, when he won the Hobey Baker Award for the nation’s top men’s player.

Maine’s Paul Kariya was the last men’s college player to reach the century club when he scored 100 points in 39 games as a freshman in 1992-93. That season also saw Kariya have what might be the greatest freshman campaign in college hockey as he guided Maine to a national championship while also winning the Hobey Baker.

Everything Michigan star freshman forward Adam Fantilli has done this season shows why he’s the presumed No. 2 pick for the upcoming NHL Draft. Fantilli, whose Wolverines will be playing for a national championship in this week’s Frozen Four, has 64 points in 35 games, which makes him the first player since the 2017-18 season to hit the 60-point mark. No one has reached the 70-point barrier since 2015-16 (Michigan’s Kyle Connor). And 70 is a far cry from 100.

So why haven’t we seen a 100-point scorer in the last 30 years? And will we ever see a 100-point scorer again?

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For starters, let’s recognize that it’s not like 100-point seasons were happening all the time in Kariya’s day. But there weren’t 30-year gaps between them either.

There have been 12 Division I men’s players who have scored 100 points in a season in the history of college hockey. Although statistics for Division I women’s college hockey are not as well maintained as on the men’s side, NCAA records show at least four women have scored 100 points in a season since 2001. The most recent was Minnesota star Amanda Kessel, who had 101 points in 37 games during the 2012-13 season.

As for the men’s game, the bulk of those 100-point campaigns came in the 1970s and 1980s. From 1984-85 through 1986-87, there were three straight seasons with a 100-point scorer. Tony Hrkac scored 116 points for North Dakota in the 1986-87 season, and that remains the most by a Division I men’s player.

Michigan State’s Kip Miller scored 101 points in 1989-90, the last time the century mark was reached before Kariya did it in 1992-93.

So, why haven’t we seen a 100-point scorer since then? Especially in this era of college hockey, when the narrative is that the game is becoming more and more skilled?

“To me, there’s no one reason why it has not happened,” longtime Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “I was thinking it through. To me, there are four things that have happened. No. 1 is that goaltending has improved dramatically. … No. 2 is that coaching has improved. … No. 3 is there is better access to video. … No. 4 is that kids are huge into shot-blocking.”

How much has goaltending improved since Kariya scored 100 points?

The short answer: Quite a bit.

In Kariya’s 100-point season of 1992-93, there were eight goalies who played more than 12 games and had a save percentage greater than .900, with the highest being .917, according to data from Elite Prospects. This season, there are 60 goalies with a save percentage greater than .900, and 21 have a higher save percentage than .917, with the highest being .933, by Northeastern’s Devon Levi.

All but two of the 12 best single-season save percentages of all time have come since the 1999-2000 season, with the highest being former Maine star Jimmy Howard (.956 in 2004) followed by UMass-Lowell’s Connor Hellebuyck (.952 in 2013) and Levi (.952 in 2022), according to the NCAA record book. Howard spent 11 full seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, Hellebuyck became a Vezina Trophy winner with the Winnipeg Jets, while Levi, a Buffalo Sabres prospect, is considered one of the most promising goalies in the game.

There is also a rise in shutouts over the last 20-plus years. The record for shutouts in a season prior to 2000 was set by Boston University’s Jack Ferreira in 1965 with eight. Since then, there have been 15 seasons in which goalies have recorded more than eight shutouts. Niagara’s Greg Gardner holds the record with 12, which he achieved in 1999-2000.

In terms of overall scoring offense, the NCAA record book goes back as far as 1996, when Boston University led the nation with 236 goals over 40 games (5.90 goals per game). That BU team was the last to score more than 200 goals in a season. In their 2021-22 campaign, Denver, which won the national championship, led the way with 175 goals in 41 games (4.27 goals per game).

Greg Cronin, coach of the AHL’s Colorado Eagles and a former head coach and assistant in college (Maine, Colorado College and Northeastern), said both goalie equipment and the goalies themselves are larger now than ever before.

“Look at the goalies back then, they were normal-sized people,” Cronin said. “Maine had big goalies like Garth Snow and Mike Dunham. Why did Maine have big goalies? They stop pucks.”

To Cronin’s point, five of the 10 goalies who led Division I in save percentage during the 1992-93 season were less than 6 feet tall, per Elite Prospects. This season, only one goalie in the top 10 in save percentage is less than 6 feet.

Goalies are not only bigger, they are better prepared, thanks to the improvements in coaching and video Pecknold mentioned.

Minnesota coach Bob Motzko said 30 years ago coaches were going tape-to-tape with VCRs to do their scouting. That meant it might take at least three hours to cut five minutes of video, so coaches couldn’t pore over every single detail of a game.

But these days? The advancement in technology means game tape has gone digital, simplifying matters to the point where coaches can review as much as they want.

“Now the video systems that we use allow us to do more,” Motzko said. “You can look at tendencies and what teams do on the power play. You can go back and watch the last six games and it will take you 30 minutes.”

Cronin said the entire sport has benefitted from having readily available video. His argument is that goaltenders have benefitted the most because the combination of improved video and more teams having goalie coaches has led to a revolution of the position.

“Billy Smith was our goalie coach in Bridgeport. He told me goalies are not puck-stoppers. They are game managers,” Cronin said. “He said it was because a goalie can catch the puck and they can stop the game. They can direct a rebound into traffic. They can play an outlet pass. It is the one position that controls a hockey game.”

Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman, who won the Mike Richter Award as the nation’s most outstanding Division I men’s goalie as a junior at Maine, said the collegiate schedule — playing primarily on weekends — means goalies have four days to prepare for opponents, allowing them to become extremely familiar with opposing players’ tendencies.

If anything, Swayman said one of the biggest adjustments he had to make going from college to the NHL was how to prepare in a shorter window.

“You can dissect an entire team’s game plan, power play, everything in four days, then you’re playing them on the weekend,” Swayman said. “That has a lot to do with it. In juniors, we would do a pre-scout, talk about other teams, but you really focused on your own game plan. … You want to start preparing Monday. But you can never be overprepared. The second you think you are overprepared, you can get humbled pretty quick.”

Goalies also seem to be getting more help as more coaches have preached defense, which has led to more players buying into not only blocking shots, as Pecknold alluded to, but to everything it means to be a two-way player.

“It was to the point that if you weren’t playing defense, you weren’t playing,” said Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes, who played four seasons at Boston College from 2010 to 2014. “I feel like that was not the case back then.”

Granted, the focus on defense is not limited to college hockey. Finding prospects who are two-way players or can play a 200-foot game has become a point of emphasis throughout the sport.

Flyers forward Noah Cates is an example of that. He played four seasons at Minnesota Duluth, where he averaged 0.71 points. Yet the hallmark of Cates’ game is the fact he can be trusted to play defense in key situations, which he has parlayed into receiving heavy minutes while also being one of the most unheralded contributors in this year’s rookie class.

Cates is second on the Flyers in 5-on-5 minutes and short-handed minutes, despite having been a college senior this time last year. The trust he’s gained as a rookie could stem from what he learned at UMD. Cates said there were times when UMD did go over skill development, but it came with the understanding that two-way play was the priority.

“Defense and structure is really heavily looked upon,” Cates said. “I wouldn’t change a thing. We won national championships. We won a lot of games and had a lot of success and have had a lot of people play in the NHL. Maybe not a ton of point-scorers, but they get the job done.”

Learning defensive principles often begins before college. Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk said playing for the United States National Team Development Program meant learning about different defensive concepts when he was a high school junior.

Van Riemsdyk said that time frame is becoming more common as coaches stress the value of having all five players on the ice invested in defense. That has led to sharpening other defensive skills, such as being good with the stick, stabbing pucks, lifting sticks, footwork and positioning along with angling components and placing opponents in tight situations.

“I remember we watched a ton of video in Ann Arbor [while with the national development program],” said van Riemsdyk, who played two seasons at New Hampshire. “We had a really good coach named Ron Rolston who would show us clips of guys like [Pavel] Datsyuk … and you’re learning these skills like timing a stick lift, skating back underneath a guy and kind of sneaking up on them to get the puck or having a good stick to knock pucks down. Those are all skills you can work on that translate into defense.”

Acknowledging the greater emphasis on two-way play and preventing goals brings us back to our original question: What would it take for a college player to register a 100-point season? Or is that simply something of a bygone era?

It depends who you ask.

But it sounds like it could take some doing.

“If you are that good, you’re only going to play maybe one or two years [in college],” said New Jersey Devils defenseman Brendan Smith, who played three seasons at Wisconsin. “So you’re not really going to get to your junior or senior year to get to 100 points. You’ve probably matured and you’re not like an 18- or 19-year-old. When you’ve become a 20-, 21-year-old, you’ve probably left to go to the NHL or probably play pro.”

And, of course, one player can’t score 100 points on their own.

“You need three great players on one line,” Wood said. “You can’t do it all by yourself. You’re going to need a ‘super line’ to do it. Especially in this day and age. You are going to need all three players to be highly skilled guys in order to do it.”

As Hayes noted, there are few programs that have three elite, first-round level talents on the same roster.

“Unless you’re Michigan last year, when they had [Matty] Beniers, [Luke] Hughes and [Owen] Power,” Hayes said.

He would know. He was fortunate enough to play with Gaudreau, who was initially slated to play at Northeastern until a coaching change led him to Boston College instead.

“I was lucky. Gaudreau had 80 points when I played with him,” Hayes said, referencing the 2013-14 season. “He was just unbelievable. Maybe Kariya had that many points because he played with some really good guys.”

In his 100-point season, Kariya played alongside Cal Ingraham and current Boston Bruins coach Jim Montgomery. Ingraham scored 46 goals and 85 points that season while Montgomery had 32 goals and 95 points.

Perhaps the most fascinating detail of all about that line? Ingraham and Montgomery played 45 games that season while Kariya played in 39. Ingraham went on to play seven seasons of pro hockey but never reached the NHL, while Montgomery played 122 NHL games over six seasons.

To Smith’s point, there have been 45 first-round forwards who have come through college hockey since the 2012 NHL draft. Only one, Providence’s Mark Jankowski, stayed four years while the majority of those players left school after either their freshman or sophomore campaigns.

Consider Fantilli, whose point total could be even higher if he hadn’t missed five games earlier in the season. He could decide to stay at Michigan or leave after one season. Remember, Beniers was a No. 2 pick who played two seasons with the Wolverines before turning pro and becoming an All-Star with the Seattle Kraken this season.

Fantilli has more than double the points Beniers had as a freshman and more than Beniers had in his sophomore season, when he finished with 43.

Even when a program has multiple top-level talents, there’s no guarantee they’ll be matched as the right combination of forwards to create a “super line” — or at least super enough to produce a 100-point scorer. Take Kyle Connor’s lone season at Michigan in 2015-16. The first-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets was paired with future Colorado Avalanche center J.T. Compher and future New York Rangers winger Tyler Motte.

Compher was a second-round pick while Motte was a third-round selection. Even with all their talent, Connor scored 71 points in 38 games while Compher had 63 points with Motte finishing with 56.

And that’s with another first-round pick in future Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski operating as one of the Wolverines’ strongest facilitators that season.

“That’s still [nearly] two points a game,” Compher said of Connor averaging 1.88 points at Michigan. “That’s a very, very good rate at any level of hockey.”

Perhaps there are players who could have scored 100 points in a season had they gone the college route. A number of players who spoke to ESPN for this story said American-born talents such as Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews, a pair of No. 1 overall picks, could have made a run at 100 if they had played in college. Instead, Kane played in the OHL whereas Matthews played professionally in Switzerland before making the jump to the NHL.

“[Connor] McDavid would do it. He would need two years,” Smith said. “I mean, that’s the thing. You don’t know how long they would be around. You have guys that come out that have been playing at 18 years old that have a chance to do it. Even then, if you’re an NHL team, you’re picking him in what would be his first year.”

What about Jack Hughes, who was the No. 1 pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2019 and went right from the U.S. National Development Team to the NHL, debuting as an 18-year-old?

“Probably not,” Hughes said with a smile. “There’s just not enough games. They probably don’t play enough games. I remember [Connor] had a crazy year at Michigan and that was one of the best years. It’s tough to do because they don’t have enough runway to get it done.”

Hughes was not the only player to share that sentiment. In fact, every NHL player who spoke to ESPN for this story said the best way to have another 100-point scorer in college hockey could be to expand the schedule.

The typical collegiate season lasts around 40 games, at least for teams that play in the NCAA tournament. To expand the schedule, schools would have to either extend the season or play more midweek games.

“I think there’s a lot of variables against why you won’t get 100 points,” Smith said. “I don’t see it happening any time soon. There have been some players who have scored 80. During my time, [Gustav] Nyquist had 61 points. Granted, anything could change. They could play more games. Then you could get a chance. But with 40 games a year? I don’t see it happening.”

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Will there ever be another 100-point scorer in college hockey?