When Dell Truax moved from Long Island to Colorado five years ago, he took on a big task: running Durango Youth Hockey’s first girls’ team, a 14-and-Under squad.
Now in his first year as Durango’s hockey director, Truax has helped the association continue growing — especially on the girls’ side.
Durango played its first-ever 12U girls’ games in late January, when it made the nearly four-hour drive to Gunnison, Colorado, for a two-game series.
Durango’s location in the southwest corner of Colorado, much closer to parts of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona than to the populous Denver, Colorado Springs or Pueblo areas, means a limited number of local opponents. At times, it can be hard to even fill a roster.
Truax took nine girls to Gunnison to play against West Elk for their debut as the Durango Steamers 12U. However, the team had to bring along one of its boys to play goalie for the first game, a 4-1 loss. West Elk had two goalies on its roster and let Durango use one of them throughout the second game, which the Steamers won, 3-2.
“They were very nice and very welcoming,” said Truax, who coached the team, which typically also has two female coaches, on the opening trip. “They knew what we were trying to do and helped us out a lot. They’re helping us grow the game and made sure our girls had a good time.”
Truax, a USA Hockey Level 5 Coach and an instructor in the USA Hockey Coaching Education Program, is hopeful that the girls who played in Gunnison will stick around, similar to the girls from his original 14U team, who stayed together for three years.
In all, Durango has 40 girls involved in learn-to-skate, six with mini-mite hockey and 25 spread throughout its house and travel teams for players ages 8-18. They’re part of an overall program that has seen the number of youth players grow from 112 last season to 140 this season.
Because of the limited local opponents in the Durango area, Truax is not ready to end the practice of the 10U and 12U girls playing with boys in Durango. Gradually adding more girls-only competition, however, could be in the future.
“I’ve been having the girls play on the boys’ team for squirt and peewees,” Truax said. “Now, I’ve tried to put them together as a group for this first thing in Gunnison, and I’m hoping to have another in March.”
Truax’s responsibilities as hockey director — “I’m trying to look at the whole big picture,” he said — will determine whether he can move ahead with a full season for the Durango 12U girls in another year. He wants to be sure not to hurt the existing squirt and peewee travel teams by taking the girls off of them.
Truax held Durango’s fifth annual girls’ camp in October, bringing in 50 girls from three states (and several moms). He was also involved in girls’ hockey as the coach of a statewide 14U selects team last year and uses the clinic as a base for assembling teams from the region for tournaments.
The involvement of 15 women in a hockey clinic could also boost the girls’ game.
“We did it for the women in town who play hockey, and it was good to do for them, but I also did it because I wanted the moms coming to the rink so I can get the daughters to start playing hockey,” Truax said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is still a reality, the USA Hockey Officiating Program is looking forward to getting everyone back on the ice in what will likely become the “new normal.”
As we get closer to minimizing the effect the virus has had on our everyday lives, the successful completion of our USA Hockey National Tournament series and the IIHF Under-18 World Championships is a promising indication that hockey is back and will be better than ever for the 2021-22 season.
As early player registrations mirror those trends from prior to the pandemic, the following is some information as to what officials should expect over the summer months and for the start of next season.
SUMMER DEVELOPMENT CAMPS AND ADVANCED SYMPOSIUM ARE BACK!
The Summer Development Camp Program is being downsized slightly as some facilities are still not available this summer, but we have latched onto the USA Hockey Player Festivals to be able to provide a quality development experience for those officials who qualify.
The Advanced Officiating Symposium is scheduled for early August in Providence, Rhode Island. USA Hockey is working closely with the host hotel to maximize participation while still adhering to state and local COVID-19 restrictions. The goal is to be able to accommodate everyone interested in attending this one-of-kind get together of top ice hockey officials in a dynamic and engaging program.
USA Hockey is in the midst of our quadrennial rule changes process, meaning there will be an updated 2021-2025 version of the Playing Rules Book prior to the start of the season.
Although the fundamental structure of the game will not change, there are several rule changes likely to be adopted that will require officials to pay attention to their rule knowledge and commit to the proper application of the rules. Officials will play a major role in USA Hockey’s efforts to improve the culture of body checking and, in return, officials will be provided more support through organizational initiatives to curb abuse of officials and unsportsmanlike behavior.
REGISTRATION JUNE 1
Officials registration for the 2021-22 season will open on June 1. However, since the updated playing rules will not be adopted until the USA Hockey Annual Congress in mid-June, hard copies of the 2021-25 Officials Playing Rules and Casebook will not be available until early August. A summary of the adopted rule changes and a PDF version of the updated rulebook should be available relatively soon after the Annual Congress. As a result, the open book exam, online module curriculum and seminar program will become available during the week of June 21.
One of the outcomes of the pandemic was it required us to take a hard look at our seminar program and make significant adjustments to best prepare our membership for success on the ice. Officials should look for the re-introduction (local restrictions permitted) of the in-person level 1 and level 2 seminars, with the level 1 format returning to an all-day seminar experience. The level 1 standardized seminar curriculum will include the online module curriculum as part of this experience in an effort to streamline their registration process. Level 2 officials will experience a half-day in-person seminar which will include an ice session.
The virtual “zoom” classroom seminar appears to be here to stay for level 3 and level 4 officials, even though some areas may choose to also provide in-person seminars for our most experienced team members. Either way, the goal is to be able to accommodate the needs of all of our officiating members with options that provide flexibility and efficiency. The online module curriculum for level 3 and level 4 officials is also being modified to streamline their registration process without compromising the educational value.
The level 2-3-4 closed book exams will also follow a modified format like last season where they will be able to complete the exam online within seven days of the seminar they attend. It is important to note these modified closed book exams will still be timed, so they must be completed in one sitting.
ADAPTING THE BEST WE CAN
The final thing to expect for the 2021-22 season? There will likely still be some restrictions and protocols that must be followed in certain local areas. The game may not look exactly like it did at the start of the 2019-20 season. Although we do not expect any full-fledged shutdowns as happened during the 2020-21 season, we will still need to be diligent and follow local guidelines in order to keep our game and its participants safe and on the ice.
USA Hockey is excited about the opportunity to get everyone who was involved prior to the pandemic safely back on the ice. There is also huge growth potential as people feel more comfortable to get back into daily life and look for new ways to engage. There is no reason why hockey cannot be that avenue where everyone is welcomed, included and encouraged in a way that a lifelong passion for the game is nurtured.
USA Hockey thanks you for your continued support and your involvement in our programs.