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Fair play, parity are top priorities for Buckeye Travel Hockey League

By Mike Scandura - Special to, 01/24/14, 6:00PM MST


Every youth league regardless of the sport stresses the importance of fair play, good sportsmanship and kids having fun..

“Every team starts with a Fair Play Point and can lose it based on the criteria,” said league president Jason Bowra. “Our original goal was to stop serious injuries. As a coach, some parents, players and officials became very obnoxious.

“Last year I had one disciplinary meeting because a kid received a match penalty. Out of all of the games we played last season (over 1,000), there only were two fights. The kids are thinking, and the coaches are preaching to the kids and parents: ‘If you get a major penalty, you’re going to lose a Fair Point.’ The kids are thinking about hits from behind and headshots. We’ve seen a major reduction in disciplinary hearings to the point where they’re almost unheard of.”

A team can earn — and earn is the operative word — a Fair Play Point with a victory, a tie and even a loss. The points are used to determine league standings per division and for seeding for championship tournaments.

The following is a list of a few ways in which a team can lose a Fair Play Point:

  • If one or more coaches is assessed a game misconduct or match penalty during or after a game.
  • If one or more of a team’s parents or fans are ejected from the game by the referees under the rules of USA Hockey.
  • If a team exceeds a specified threshold for penalty minutes during regulation time or after a game is completed. For Squirts the limit is 10 minutes, for Peewees the limit is 12 minutes and for Bantams the limit is 14 minutes.

In addition, while youth leagues generally strive for parity, not all are as successful as the Buckeye Travel Hockey League at reaching this goal. That’s due in large part to the league’s pre-season seeding tournament.

“We have an application that each team fills out,” Bowra said. “It gives us an idea if a team is A or AA. We break down the A teams into Gold, Silver and Bronze. They apply and project where they should be.

“If they’re borderline, we have them play against each other. For example, we may have two teams that project themselves as AA. Each team plays a 25-minute, non-stop game with minimal whistles. You can’t make changes on a whistle. From the score, we can evaluate the teams. A Buckeye representative is at each game and looks at the intangibles plus the number of kids on a roster.”

After that, teams are ranked from 1 to 40.

“It’s not always perfect, but we have parity between all of our leagues,” Bowra said. “Last year we had 10 championship games and each one was decided by two or fewer goals and three went into overtime.”

Want more proof? In the Great Lakes Fall Classic, which was held over the first weekend in January in Holland, Mich., 12 BTHL teams won championships in their respective divisions with six championship games decided by one goal or in overtime and three more decided by two goals.

“We feel that with 75 percent of the championship games at or under a two-goal differential is pretty good,” Bowra said.

What’s also “pretty good” is the fact that this season the total number of teams in the BTHL has increased from 69 to 98.

“When the economy tanked a few years ago we took a bit,” Bowra explained. “But one of the biggest things we have going for ourselves is that we focus on Squirts, Peewees and Bantams. We focus on those three divisions.

“When we’re looking at the divisions, some are split between Silver East and West. We look at parity first and then geography. We had one 14-team division and split it in half. We looked at it from a geographical standpoint so that all teams are in the East or West. When the playoffs are held, then teams will cross over.”

There’s more. The BTHL had four new organizations come on board this season and two the previous season. Overall, the league had 20 organizations in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia which is a new state that signed up this season.

USA Hockey’s American Development Model is a major component of the BTHL.

“The ADM is the definitive benefit,” Bowra said. “In the Midwest, hockey is second nature because a lot of our studs play football, baseball and basketball. The ADM forces parents, kids and coaches to focus on skills like skating, passing and stickhandling before [they] learn how to play the game.

“In Ohio, it’s all about getting that Division I scholarship. This is a great opportunity to tell mom and dad that we’re going to focus on skills first. I think it’s a good opportunity for kids to learn skills because as you get older you won’t learn skills as easily as you would when you’re younger.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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2021-22 ATO | WEEK 20

By USA Hockey 12/17/2021, 6:15am MST

This week’s features: Hand-passes...Taunting...Leaving the penalty bench...and more.

QUESTIONA player from Team A and Team B are assessed coincidental penalties. Player A leaves the penalty box and returns to the ice at the expiration of the penalty while play is continuing at one end of the rink. Player A realizes his mistake and returns to the players bench without becoming involved in any part of the play. Play continues and Team A scores a goal. Team B protests the call and makes the officials aware of the situation. Should the goal count?

ANSWERIf the Team A Player becomes involved in the play then the goal must be disallowed. However, if the Team A Player entered the ice but quickly and immediately returned to the Penalty Bench or Team Bench (wasn’t involved in the play at all), then the goal could be allowed since the extra player had absolutely no impact on the play.

In either case, the Team A Player should not be assessed an additional penalty for leaving the Penalty Bench since this would be considered an Officials’ Error (they should have informed the player when he may leave).


QUESTIONA team arrives with 6 skaters and 1 goalie. During the 1st period a player is injured reducing the team to 5 skaters and a goalie. During the 3rd period coincidental minor penalties are assessed (play should resume 5 v. 5). However the short team is unable to place its entitled 5 players on the ice. The game continued 4 v. 4 because the short teams strength by penalty and injury was not reduced to LESS than 4 players on the ice (which would cause a forfeit under rule 201). Is this correct?

ANSWER: In this situation, the team with the short bench must play 5 vs. 4. The opposing team has not done anything wrong to mandate they play with only four players. So play would continue 5 vs. 4, and the team with the four players may not “ice” the puck or receive any advantage due to being shorthanded.


QUESTION: Does slew footing come with an automatic major? If not, what determines a minor or major being called?

ANSWERRule 639 in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states,

"(Note 1) Tripping is the act of placing a stick, knee, foot, arm, hand or elbow in such a manner that causes his opponent to lose balance or fall.

(Note 2) Clipping is the act of deliberately leaving the feet or lowering the body for the purpose of making contact with the opponent at or below the knees.

(Note 3) Leg check is the act of extending the leg from the front or from behind for the purpose of tripping the opponent.

(Note 4) Slew Footing is the act of a player using his leg or foot to knock or kick an opponent's feet from under him. This is done by pushing an opponent's upper body backwards with an arm or elbow at the same time using a forward motion of his leg causing the opponent to fall to the ice.

(a) A minor penalty shall be assessed under this rule for any of the actions described above, except slew footing.

(Note) However, no penalty shall be assessed under this rule if, in the opinion of the Referee, the player was clearly hook-checking or poke-checking the puck for the purpose of gaining possession.

(b) A major penalty plus a game misconduct penalty shall be assessed to any player who recklessly endangers an opponent as a result of tripping, clipping or leg checking.

The minimum penalty to be assessed for slew footing is a major plus game misconduct penalty.

(c) A match penalty for reckless endangerment may also be assessed under this rule.


QUESTION: In the neutral zone, an airborne puck is batted by an attacking player, who then controls the puck with his stick. Play is whistled for a hand pass. This doesn't seem correct as the player batting the puck got the puck on his stick (not a teammates stick). Looking at 618b, it stipulates the puck batted directly to a teammate, not the same player.

ANSWER: You are correct, play should be allowed to continue if a player bats the puck with his/her hand and is the first player to play the puck afterwards. The “hand-pass” rule only applies to a puck batted to a teammate.


QUESTIONDo we (USAH) have a rule against an attacker that faces the goal to interfere?

ANSWER: This could be penalized under Rule 601(a) for “taunting”.

Download the USA Hockey Mobile Rulebook App to your mobile device from your app store today!

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