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Ames MHA Serves Broad Community in Central Iowa

04/04/2014, 12:00pm MDT
By Mike Scandura - Special to USAHockey.com

Ames Minor Hockey Association president Stacy Woodward considers what might have happened had the AMHA not been established back in 1976-77 in the Iowa college town.

“Boys would have to travel to Des Moines, Mason City, Iowa City, Waterloo or Cedar Rapids,” Woodward said. “They all have teams. Des Moines ‘only’ is 30 miles away. But Iowa City and Cedar Rapids are 1.5 hours away.

“When you’re going every night for practice, it’s a long drive. We serve central Iowa and fill a need.”

This season the AMHA filled a need for more than 2,500 families in central Iowa. And according to Woodward, the AMHA has plans that should enable the association to entice new players to register next season.

“We’re working on growing the program through a new learn-to-play program, which we’re implementing next season,” Woodward said. “It’s not a new concept, but we’ve found the interest in hockey is growing around the area.

“We have a new minor league team, the Iowa Wild [the Minnesota Wild’s American Hockey League affiliate]. Having the Iowa Wild and all the promotions they’re doing has sparked interest in youth and parents in the game. And the Olympic year sparks interest.”

The Iowa Wild play in the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, and AMHA teams are familiar with that venue.

“Our Mites and Squirts play cross-ice, mini-games during intermission at Iowa Wild games,” Woodward said. “Kids have been exposed to the AHL experience.”

Another reason why the AMHA could register more players is its try-hockey-for-free day.

“We had a try-hockey-for-free day, which attracted over 100 kids who registered for that in February,” Woodward said. “We’ve had it before, but that was a couple of years ago. We plan another in September prior to the start of the season; we’ll have a fall and spring try-hockey-for-free day.

“We had a great turnout. If we get 10 percent of the kids to come back, that would be great.”

This season the AMHA fielded Tykes, Mites Squirts Black and Orange, Peewees White and Orange, Bantams and a club team that came under the association’s umbrella. Woodward said that team is the equivalent of Midgets.

“Hockey isn’t a big sport around here, which makes it difficult to recruit new members,” admitted Woodward. “Basketball is a big sport around here.

“We draw from other communities. We’re based out of Ames and draw from communities from 30 miles around. It’s a neat thing, especially when you’re in high school and playing with kids from different schools to create one team. That’s not uncommon in a metropolitan area. But in a small town, it’s unique to draw from so many communities for one team.”

One noteworthy goal of the AMHA is to develop boys to play for Ames High School. And if some boys develop the skills to go on and play juniors and perhaps college hockey, that would lend more credence to the association’s mission.

“The mission of the AMHA is to promote the enjoyment and competitive benefits of youth hockey to Ames and the surrounding communities,” Woodward said. “It is the goal of the AMHA to teach the fundamentals of hockey, sportsmanship, teamwork and character development and, additionally, to encourage players to strive for improvement in their personal development and to have a positive experience.”

Several reasons other than those mentioned also factor into AMHA players having “a positive experience.” One is the strong parental support throughout the association.

Another is the ability of the volunteer coaches to develop players from Tykes through high school.

And the fact the association is well organized and well run eliminates problems before they occur.

In addition, the AMHA has developed a positive relationship with Iowa State University’s club hockey team.

“They host clinics for us in the fall,” Woodward said. “They offer summer camps that kids pay for. They attend events like our try-hockey-for-free-day. They come to our Fall Faceoff, which is our kickoff event.

“They attend fund raisers and donate jerseys, ice time and certificates to attend camps. That’s a definite plus and is unique for our association.”

Woodward has been affiliated with the AMHA for eight years and relishes how kids have come to love the game of hockey, how the volunteer coaches develop players and the friendships players have made.

“I’ve derived satisfaction from the friendships my kids have made through the years with their teammates, which transcends their classes at school,” said Woodward. “They’ve developed life-long friendships.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Called up to The Show

09/26/2016, 10:45am MDT
By Kelly Erickson

Three USA Hockey officials earn the chance to officiate in the NHL for the first time this season

For the majority of young hockey players, their dream is to skate in the National Hockey League. They want to be the next Zach Parise, Patrick Kane, Ryan Suter — the list goes on. This season, starting in NHL training camps, three young Americans will make their dream a reality, with one caveat — instead of playing, they’ll be officiating.

Ryan Daisy, Furman South and Cameron Voss, three USA Hockey officials, were each recently offered NHL contracts and will attend their first NHL training camps this fall.

“It’s been a dream come true, really,” South said. “I’ve dreamt of being in the NHL my whole life. I grew up playing hockey from a young age and have been a hockey fan my whole life. Ever since I learned to skate it was always a dream of mine to be in the NHL. For most of my life I have dreamt of being there as a player, but once I was done playing, my dream was to make it as an official. And I made it. I can’t wait to have my first NHL game.”

Daisy echoed the sentiment, noting that making it to the NHL level as an official has been a goal of his for awhile.

“It feels awesome,” Daisy said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of emotions going on in my first game, the first time I touch the ice in the NHL with the NHL crest on my sweater that I’ve been dreaming about for years. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

It’s a dream made reality for all three, and the ultimate payoff for many years of hard work and sacrifice.

“It’s an accumulation of all the sacrifices my family has made for me, all the supervisors and friends along the way that have helped me,” Voss said. “It wasn’t just me, it was a collection of people that pushed me and made me believe and work hard. It’s a pretty overwhelming feeling being at this point. I’m just glad all the sacrifices that we’ve made have paid off. I’m very blessed and humbled by the whole experience.”

Voss, South and Daisy were drawn to officiating from different paths, but once on it, they both climbed through the ranks and took advantage of the USA Hockey officiating development initiatives, including summer camps and the USA Hockey Officiating Program for South and Daisy to hone their skills.

Voss was the first of the three to don the zebra stripes, becoming an official at age 12, working alongside his father. It was his way to help pay for his hockey gear and get extra ice time. After closing his collegiate career at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, pursuing a career as a ref became a reality. He attended an officiating summer camp and saw all the opportunities available to work in higher-level hockey, and before long, he was working his way through them, spending time at the youth, high school, junior, NCAA Division I and professional levels in the American League.

“My eyes lit up really wide and I was just eager to start the process,” Voss said.

“USA Hockey gave me lots of opportunities to learn and hone my craft. The people involved in USA Hockey, they sacrificed a lot of time … they helped me out tremendously, especially at the grassroots level. They let me learn and grow and even let me fail and learn from those experiences. USA Hockey helped me from when I first started when I was 12 to when I got the call (from the NHL) in July.”

South played NCAA hockey at Robert Morris University. When he graduated in 2012 at age 24, he simply wanted to find a way to stay involved in the sport about which he was so passionate. He tried coaching, he instructed at camps and then he got a chance to ref a game and he loved it. He’s officiated everywhere from high school up, spending last season in the American Hockey League.

“It kind of came naturally to me and I realized it was something I wanted to pursue,” South said. “A couple of years later, it seems to have worked out.”

Daisy was drawn to officiating because it was a way to be in the game, to skate on the ice. His dream of becoming an official firmly solidified when he joined the USA Hockey Officiating Development Program during his senior year of college. With some early success, he was offered a contract to work in the United States Hockey League full-time, fueling his aspirations.

“(USA Hockey) will do everything in their power to help you achieve your dreams, no matter what level of hockey it is,” Daisy said.

From his Level 1 seminar to summer camps to his job in the USHL, Daisy has felt extreme support from every manager and mentor along the way, noting they all wanted to help him be a better official.

“You’re learning from the best,” Daisy said. “You’re learning from guys that are either currently in the NHL, have been in the NHL, officials that have worked international hockey and college hockey. They’re out there helping you become better.”

South also credits the USA Hockey Officiating Development Program as a factor in his success, noting Scott Zelkin, the Officiating Development Program manager, and the program itself gave him every opportunity to succeed as an official. To make his dreams come true.

“I can’t say enough about USA Hockey and the Officiating Development Program,” South said. “I wouldn’t have had this chance with the NHL if it wasn’t for those guys, that’s for sure.”

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