It’s not every day that a Zamboni ice-resurfacing machine drives down a city street in Boston.
That was the case on Oct. 6, though, when Parkway Youth Hockey took over Center Street in the West Roxbury neighborhood for the association’s inaugural opening-day parade. PYH President Mike O’Brien came up with the idea, taking a cue from the local Little League program.
“Why can’t hockey do it if Little League does?” said Paul Conneely, the second vice president of the association that serves the West Roxbury, Roslindale and Jamaica Plain neighborhoods. “It generates excitement. People saw these kids go up Center Street, and people came up to me and said, ‘I loved it.’
“It builds a sense of pride. At the end of the day, it’s all about the kids.”
Approximately 250 youngsters wearing team uniforms marched in the parade and were preceded by a fire truck, a Massachusetts State Police canine cruiser, a Zamboni ice resurfacing machine and bagpipers.
“Where do you see something like this?” Conneely said. “[The Zamboni] was the highlight. The parade wasn’t about just showing up at the rink and playing hockey. It was about kids hanging out with each other and having a good time.”
Leading the parade was Parkway’s squirt A team that captured last season’s Massachusetts Tier II championship.
“I coached a few kids on the squirt team at the mite level, and they used the ADM — small-area and cross-ice games,” Conneely said. “We practiced on a small rink at Hyde Park.
“Quite frankly, that was the best thing I’ve ever done with the mite team.”
Looking back, Conneely said USA Hockey’s American Development Model might have been one of the “best things” that’s happened to PYH.
“The ADM was a 50-50 proposition,” he said. “Half thought it was ridiculous. But as a whole, we embraced it. [Babson College coach] Jamie Rice even came in to run a coaching clinic.
“As a board, we decided to integrate the ADM as much as possible, especially in terms of how they should practice small-area games. It’s helped our program tremendously.”
Conneely was quick to note that the age-appropriate ADM guidelines for players from mites to midgets have helped PYH retain more players and, in some cases, attract kids who are new to the game.
“Absolutely it has,” he said. “The way it’s helped is we’ve gone exclusively to cross-ice games [for mites]. The parents feel their kid has fun playing cross-ice hockey. Once they’re in, they’re hooked.”
This season, PYH consists of six mite non-travel teams in addition to two bantam, two midget, three peewee and four squirt travel teams that play in the Valley Hockey League. And under the umbrella of the McLaughlin Development League is a house program, a learn-to-skate program and instructional hockey.
As a result, PYH coaches and administrators focus on teaching and developing skills while always emphasizing the importance of sportsmanship, fair play, teamwork and responsibility in the overall context of having fun.
PYH also utilizes something else that helps entice more kids to play ice hockey: Coppinger Court Hockey, which is a street hockey league.
“We’ve given the kids a street hockey league that offers development for kids 4 to 12,” Conneely said. “Maybe 300 kids play in this league.
“It’s drawn kids into playing street hockey, which, in turn, has prompted kids to play ice hockey. Many parents have said, ‘My kid loves street hockey, so how do we get him to play ice hockey?’ Now, he plays street hockey with his own age group and feels like this is fun. Then, they’re more inclined to try ice hockey.”
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At USA Hockey, we strongly believe loyalty should be rewarded, especially those who have worked so hard and so attentively in our USA Hockey officiating program. It’s why we are excited to announce and implement our new Tenured Official Program.
Through the program, we will recognize those officials who are committed to being the best hockey official they can be. We will use incentives that encourage officials to view officiating with USA Hockey as a desirable long-term commitment. The first group of tenured officials will be established during the 2019-20 season after attendance at our first-ever Advanced Officiating Symposium, scheduled for July 26-28, 2019, in Minneapolis (registration for the symposium will open soon).
Officials who have registered as either a Level 3 or Level 4 for the past three seasons (including 2018-19) will be eligible to attend the symposium and will become our first class of tenured officials. Officials who are Level 3 for the 2018-19 season and obtain tenured status would be considered Level 3 tenured while those who were complete at Level 4 would be considered Level 4 tenured officials. An official who has obtained Level 3 tenured status may advance to Level 4 tenured status by successfully completing all Level 4 requirements for one season.
Level 3 or 4 tenured status will remain as long as the official continues to register with USA Hockey as an official each season. USA Hockey’s national tournament eligibility and assignment guidelines would apply to tenured officials as they do to normal registration levels.
Officials applying for tenured status will be required to attend a USA Hockey Advanced Officiating Symposium. There will be one such symposium conducted each season with locations rotating around the country. The symposium will start Friday afternoon and run through Sunday morning and will include guest speakers from the NHL, IIHF, NCAA, and other facets of sports officiating relevant to the game of hockey.
The primary objectives of the symposium will be to:
Officials applying for the Advanced Officiating Symposium are responsible for symposium fee, travel and accommodations.
Tenured official annual registration requirements
Level 3 or 4 tenured status will remain as long as the official continues to register with USA Hockey as an official each season.
Information on the Tenured Official Program and USA Hockey Advanced Officiating Symposium can be found on the Tenured Officials page of USAHockey.com. Registration for the first symposium will open in the coming weeks. Space may be limited, so take advantage of the early registration special for a discounted fee.
We look forward to your participation in this exciting new program and also to seeing you at the 2019 USA Hockey Advanced Officiating Symposium.