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50th anniversary highlights Littleton Hockey Association’s golden history

By Mike Scandura - Special to USAHockey.com, 12/20/13, 4:30PM MST

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Perhaps one reason why the Littleton Hockey Association is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season is reflected by the organization’s 76-member wall of fame, which was unveiled on September 23, 2013.

The plaques on the wall honor Littleton alumni who have played hockey, or are playing, at the next level, whether that be in college, in the professional ranks or with the U.S. National Team Development Program.

“We have a place for kids to play at all ends whether you’re a top-end prospect or are playing junior varsity or varsity high school hockey,” explained Brian TenEyck, Littleton’s hockey director. “I grew up playing here and joined the club in ’89 as a 5-year-old. When I was coming through, we didn’t have an NHL team. The Avs came here in ’95 and several [families] eventually enrolled their kids in our program.

“The goal was to provide a place for kids to play hockey.”

The story behind the story for the suburban Denver program’s golden anniversary involves the people who put in the hours required to get the program on the ice and then made sure that it continued to thrive.

“Right off the top, we have a very strong support staff,” TenEyck said. “A number of ex-NHL players have come through the association. We have a board of directors that’s dedicated to improving and building on what we have.”

The LHA this season has 44 travel teams from Under-8 through Midget Major. It’s also a reason why the association was able to add a house program five years ago.

“Our house program is new,” TenEyck said. “We only had travel teams in the past. Now, we want to have a true pyramid. We have tryouts for our travel teams and we have players move to a higher level every year.

“We’ve grown from zero to 10 house teams in five years. It’s a program for kids who just want to enjoy the sport.”

Another plus for the LHA is that it plays out of two facilities, the South Suburban Ice Arena and the Ice Ranch. As a result, the association benefits from having four sheets of ice.

“Having four sheets of ice allows us to continue to grow,” TenEyck said. “Plus, geography plays a role. We’re very accessible. We’re in an area [southwest of Denver] that’s growing.”

The LHA also is affiliated with the Thunderbirds, the local AAA program.

“We’re affiliated with them and provide ice for them,” TenEyck said. “If our players can make it, we encourage them to get there.

“When the Thunderbirds won the 2010 U16 national championship, 13 players on that team came from Littleton.”

Not surprisingly, the LHA teams have won their share of championships, including three national titles along with various state championships.

“For our AA teams, we have an expectation of winning,” TenEyck said. “It’s not that winning is everything, but when our players step on the ice, we expect them to perform because of the resources we provide.

“It’s not a win-at-all-costs philosophy.”

When it comes to resources, TenEyck simply was stating facts. The LHA has a travel and house skills coach in Zach Blom, who played on the University of Denver’s 2005 NCAA Division I championship team. Blom attends one practice every week for the travel and house teams. Kyle Hull is the U8 skills coach. He’s on the ice with the U8 teams once or twice a week. Goalie coach David Nowicki oversees the LHA’s goalie program. Plus the LHA has a skating treadmill and skills pad along with treadmill coaches Nick Combs and Brent Mueller. Next on the drawing board is a dry-land facility.

The LHA recently hosted its 42nd annual Thanksgiving Day Tournament and is preparing to host its 28th annual Slap Shot Tournament plus its 29th annual Presidents Day Tournament. The fact these tournaments have been held for so long underscores the fact that Littleton is a volunteer-driven association.

“It is a lot of work but, again, it goes back to our volunteers — people who want to be a part of this program,” TenEyck said. “A lot of it starts with our board of directors and filters down to our hockey operations committee and our registrar [Dede Cox], who’s very important to us.

“We wouldn’t be where we are without the individuals who are here.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc. 

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COVID-19 and the 2020-21 Season

By Matt Leaf 04/02/2020, 11:30am MDT

Even with almost 50 years of involvement in hockey, you can’t plan for the current state of the world and the impact coronavirus has had on our game. I think it is safe to say that nothing prepares you for the changes that have taken place in our daily lives and the uncertainty of when things might return to normal. Or in this case, what will become the new “normal.”

Our expertise is hockey, so what we’ll address in this piece: the impact of the global pandemic on our game and how likely it will affect our game in the immediate future. 

USA Hockey continues to post information on COVID-19 on the main website. These updates keep our membership informed of specific programs and the changing safety recommendations that will be in place when hockey returns. Be sure to check back regularly for updates and other hockey information.

On the officiating front, much of what we are able to do from a program standpoint is connected to player events like national tournaments and player development camps. As you know, the national tournaments (along with the March, April and May IIHF World Championship events) were cancelled. The Officiating Program then canceled our two instructor training programs that were planned for late April and early May in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Colorado Springs, Colo. 

At this time, details for any potential summer development camps are still being determined. On the player side, several camps we are connected to were cancelled, and the few camps that are still in planning have been dramatically downsized. The Officiating Program continues to monitor the decisions made for players and will take advantage of any opportunity we have to salvage our summer camp program and maximize participation.

The good news is, we are confident we will have a 2020-21 season. All indications show no reason to delay registration. It will open as scheduled on or around May 26, followed by the open book exams and online seminar curriculum on June 1. 

SafeSport Training (required for anyone born in the year 2003 or earlier) and background screening (learn about the new national level screening program in the Q & A section) will also be available to complete at that time. If COVID-19 still has things slowed down in early June, it would be an ideal time to get these requirements completed.

The biggest unknown will be the timing in which we will be able to conduct seminars. The vast majority of rinks are currently closed, and many of them took this opportunity to remove ice to save operating costs and do maintenance. There is now doubt they will be prepared to quickly ramp up once they are allowed to do so, but as with most everything right now, the timing is uncertain. As a result, some of the earlier seminars may be pushed back a few weeks. The District Referees-in-Chief will secure ice times and facilities so we can provide seminar dates and locations as quickly as possible. We are also encouraging our instructors to think outside the box by providing some weeknight seminar options, and to look at other ways to best meet the needs of our members.

The Advanced Officiating Symposium, scheduled for Providence, R.I. in late July, is still going to plan. We will continue to monitor the situation, including local restrictions and travel advisories in the coming weeks, and we will announce any changes in advance to allow for alterations to travel arrangements. Click here for up-to-date information or to reserve your seat at the 2020 Advanced Officiating Symposium.

These are difficult times for everyone, and although our hockey family is important to us, it is a small fraction of the big picture that is impacting our daily lives. To quote Andy Dufresne in his letter for Red that he left under the big oak tree in The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. We hope the coronavirus is conquered with minimal loss of lives and a return to a prosperous normal as soon as possible. We hope your passion for the game of hockey will only grow as a result of its absence. We hope we are back on the ice in the coming months and that the 2020-21 season will be our best yet.

Thank you for your continued support of USA Hockey and don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do to make your hockey experience a better one. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and be prepared to be back on the ice soon.

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USA Hockey Announces National Background Screening Program

By USA Hockey 04/02/2020, 12:00pm MDT

In order to comply with new requirements from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), USA Hockey will be implementing a national level background screening program. This program will replace all USAH Affiliate coordinated background screen programs.

Why must officials be screened?
Per USA Hockey and USOPC policy, all coaches, officials, board members, employees, volunteers, billets and anyone else who will have regular contact with, or authority over, minor athletes are required to submit a background screen before any contact with minor athletes.

Who is required to be screened?
Officials who are 18 years-old (or older) prior to June 1 of the current year.

Any official, 18 years-old (or older) without a completed valid background screen (national or USAH Affiliate coordinated) after April 1, 2019.

All national background screens are valid for two seasons, and starting on June 1, 2020 a national background screen must be completed and in good standing before receiving an officiating card and crest.

What are the timelines for launching the national background screen program?
Beginning on April 1, 2020, background screening will be conducted by our national background screen vendor, National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI), and information on background screening will be included following your registration.

As of March 22, 2020, applicants will no longer be able to submit new USA Hockey background screens through USAH Affiliate vendors, and will not be able to submit new screens through NCSI until April 1, 2020.

If you were screened after April 1, 2019 for the 2019-20 season, your screen is valid for the 2020-21 season, and you will not need to be screened under the new system until prior to the 2021-22 season. If your most recent screen is from prior to April 1, 2019, you will need to be screened under the new system, after April 1, 2020, in order to participate in the upcoming season.

All new screens submitted through the new NCSI national screening program after April 1, 2020 will be valid for two seasons.  For example, a screen submitted and approved on April 15, 2020 will be valid through the end of the 2021-22 season, which is August 31, 2022.

How can members complete their required background screen?
A link to submit for screening will be included in your membership registration confirmation email and posted in the drop-down menu under the OFFICIALS tab at USAHockey.com.

Background screens through NCSI under the national program will cost $30 for all domestic screens. For international screens (members who have lived outside of the U.S. for six consecutive months in any one county during the past 7 years) the flat rate fee is $150. If that country is solely Canada, the flat rate fee is $75.

Where can members go with questions about the national background screen program?
Please refer to the USA Hockey Background Screen webpage at USAHockey.com.