COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey announced today that the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Optimist Hockey Association, the Kettler Capitals, the Montgomery (Md.) Youth Hockey Association and San Jose Jr. Sharks have been named USA Hockey Model Association programs.
With the designation, the four organizations have committed to follow the American Development Model in full at the 8-and-under, 10-and-under and 12-and-under age groups. The ADM is based on age-appropriate training to fully benefit children in their hockey and overall athletic development.
"We are excited to welcome this next group of model associations," said Kevin McLaughlin, senior director of hockey development for USA Hockey. "They're committed to ensuring the best possible competition and training environment for kids involved in their programs."
All USA Hockey associations have the opportunity to be recognized as a model association by meeting appropriate criteria. More information can be found here.
As a benefit of their model program designation, KOHA, MYHA, the Kettler Capitals and the San Jose Jr. Sharks will receive added support from USA Hockey to assist in implementing the ADM throughout their programs, including equipment, signage, and educational materials. Further, all four will receive on-going staff support from USA Hockey's national office, including in-depth coaches training and parent education that will commence in early September.
"Our mission is to continue to grow the game of hockey in the Bay Area and provide all the tools necessary for our customers to enjoy the game for years to come," said Jon Gustafson, general manager of Sharks Ice. "We are honored to be a driver and a partner with USA Hockey and the ADM program, which emphasizes long-term skill development and creating a love for the game. California is now considered a thriving hockey market and we are very excited about the future growth on the West Coast."
"Since being implemented into our 8U program, the ADM has been a huge success," said Brian Tulik, director of hockey operations for KOHA. "The players' level of skill, passion and love of the game has increased, and seeing the young, smiling faces participating in this great game of ours is priceless. Although there are still a few people that think it can't work, the sports science and research that has gone into the ADM and LTAD (Long-Term Athletic Development) prove otherwise. We look forward to our kids' improved development and overall enjoyment of the game as we continue to implement the ADM throughout all divisions within our program."
"For the past few seasons, we have used the ADM at the Mite level and have seen a tremendous increase in the overall skill development of all players," said Rob Keegan, director of coaching at MYHA. "We look forward to working with USA Hockey and continuing to provide our players with the best possible age-appropriate training which will enable our players to reach their full potential."
"Kettler Capitals Iceplex, home of the Washington Capitals, is excited to be recognized as a USA Hockey Model Association," said Dan Jablonic, hockey director for Kettler Capitals Iceplex. "Implementing this world leading model set out by USA Hockey and the NHL gives our players and coaches the opportunity to improve their skills, have fun and enjoy the sport for a lifetime. We welcome the challenge and look forward to working with USA Hockey to set the example as the best player development program in our region."
NOTES: The ADM, with full support from the NHL, was launched in January of 2009 to provide associations nationwide – for the first time ever - a blueprint for optimal athlete development. The ADM is based on age-appropriate training and uses long-term athlete development principles as its foundation. It is for players of all ages and ability levels, including the most competitive ... The associations announced today join the Arvada (Colo.) Hockey Association, Colorado Springs Hockey Association, New Jersey Bandits and Orchard Lake (Mich.) United in being recognized as USA Hockey Model Association programs.
For the last 15 years, Ian Walsh has crisscrossed the United States as an NHL official. In this Part 2 of our conversation with Walsh, the 42-year-old Philadelphia native fielded a series of questions discussing life on the road, his conditioning schedule, mentors, on-ice struggles, the evolution of the game and advice for aspiring officials.
USA Hockey: How do you think you've been able to maintain all of the officiating success you've had over the last 15 years?
Ian Walsh: I believe one of my strengths as an official is my work ethic. I come to the rink every night ready to work hard and give 100 percent. I also believe I am very coachable, and when I'm offered a suggestion for improvement, I try very hard to implement that advice into my game.
USAH: What is your conditioning schedule like during the NHL season? How about during the off-season?
Walsh: During the season, conditioning work is more about maintaining what you built up over the summer. The workouts aren't as intense but you must continue to take good care of your body. Game-day workouts usually include a 30-minute bike ride or a couple miles run at the hotel gym. I also like to do some core work and light strength training on top of that.
The weather in Portland is amazing in the summer, and I prefer to be outside and on my road bike. I usually get in about four days a week of riding outdoors to help build my endurance and strength. I try to play hockey a few days a week as well to help work on my skating.
USAH: When did you realize you finally had cemented your career as an official? What was that feeling like?
Walsh: I don't know if you ever get that feeling. Every night is a different challenge in our league. It is a hard, hard league to officiate. The scrutiny of every call, every goal, ever non-call is such a challenge for all of us. The best players and coaches in the world expect us to perform at such a high level every night, and we have to be ready for anything that comes our way. It’s a privilege to be on the ice in the NHL, and I think that is something no official takes for granted.
USAH: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as an official?
Walsh: Being chosen to participate in four Stanley Cup playoffs is what I'm most proud of. It’s an incredible honor to be selected and that’s the goal for every official each year. Also, being part of the team that was chosen to represent the NHL at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was a phenomenal experience and a great opportunity.
USAH: What has been the biggest hurdle/obstacle you've had to overcome in your officiating career?
Walsh: I’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood, that I haven’t had any serious injuries. Other than some bumps and bruises, I’ve been relatively injury-free in my career. The biggest challenge is to be able to bounce back from calls you made that aren't correct. In this day and age, we usually know within minutes after the game if we made a wrong decision. When you make a call that impacts the game, it’s hard on the mind. Unfortunately, we make mistakes and what most people don't understand is that nobody takes it harder than the official making that mistake. Being able to bounce back from a mistake is something all officials must learn to do.
USAH: Who has had the most impact on your officiating career over the past 15 years? What has that person or those people taught you?
Walsh: Nobody has helped me more over my NHL career than fellow referee Paul Devorski. I've worked a lot of games with Paul and we’ve had the opportunity to travel together on the road. As an elite, veteran referee, he has been able to pass down some of his knowledge to me to help me become a better official. Paul is retiring this year, and our staff will sorely miss him.
USAH: How has the game changed, besides speed, since you started in the early 2000s?
Walsh: I would say the biggest change besides the speed of the game would be the use of technology. It is amazing what you see at rink – teams have iPads on the bench, super slo-motion video replays, hi-def video scoreboards, etc. With all that technology, it makes the officials job appear easy. People forget that the official on the ice sees a play one time, in real time, and must make a split-second decision on that play. It often appears quite different when you see a replay in super slo-mo on hi-def after a game.
USAH: What advice can you give aspiring NHL/professional league officials as they progress in their career?
Walsh: I would say make sure you have a backup plan. Making it to the NHL is everyone’s goal, but there are very few jobs available. There are so many factors that go into hiring an official and a lot of those are out of your control. Go and work the highest level available to you. Don't worry about other officials, if you are good enough, the NHL will find you. Also, control what you can control – always work on your skating, know your rules and come to the rink every night with a strong work ethic and a great attitude.