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Balance, Player Development Keeps Vermont Stars Soaring

By Tom Robinson - Special to, 03/03/15, 4:00PM MST


Quality games, numerous practices draw girls from throughout Vermont

When the Vermont Stars head into competition, they do so against opponents at the Tier-I, Tier-II and tournament levels.

Before the puck drops, however, the Stars have a system that they believe maximizes player development while keeping the schedules manageable for the 14U and 12U girls and their families.

“Generally, we travel only every other weekend for games,” said Emily Cabral, a former Cornell University player who is co-coach of the 14U team. “Otherwise, the other weekends are practice weekends.

“We’re trying to hit more practices over the games. The games will be a jamboree somewhere or a tournament somewhere.”

That format allows the Stars to pack games into their road trips while using their two practices per week for learning the game in the team’s home base of Stowe, Vermont.

The Stars draw players from around the state who want to play at a high level. They have the full-season 14U and 12U teams for the winter schedule and even more girls who participate in a shorter spring schedule.

“Putting together a Tier I girls’ team is difficult,” Cabral said. “We try to play the best competition we can, so we tend to lose more. But they’re developing and learning with the processes that we do, and that, to me, is a better measuring stick.”

Cabral said those who commit to the Stars have to understand the schedule is not built to produce an impressive record.

“It’s kind of tough because of who we play,” Cabral said.

Cabral and skating coach Becky Salyards, who played collegiately at the University of Minnesota Duluth, are among the multiple coaches in the program who have been heavily involved with USA Hockey. Cabral took part in the USA Hockey Select 14-15 National Development Camp in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and earned her Level 3 coaching certification. Salyards is Vermont’s American Development Model USA Hockey liaison.

The Stars’ reputation is such that they draw a large group of players from around Vermont — and occasionally across one of its borders — for their shorter spring schedule.

The spring program, which is how the Stars originated, is about to start its 12th season. It routinely draws more than 100 players, allowing the Stars to put together 8U, 10U, 12U, 14U and 19U teams that each usually play three tournaments in the United States and Canada. Players have to try out for the tournament teams, while some spring players join the Stars just for extra practice.

“They’re all coming just because they want extra practices and skill development,” Cabral said. “We also offer, in the spring, some off-ice training.

“It’s an interesting spread in the spring. They have different options. They can do practices only. They can do practices and tournaments. Or they can do tournaments only.”

Extending the season allows local women’s college players to assist an already large coaching staff. It also allows for girls’ players that participate on other teams, including youngsters still playing on co-ed teams and older girls playing at prep schools and high schools, to get additional high-level training.

The players who emerge from the younger Stars teams often feed the roster of Rice Prep, a South Burlington school that combines a high-level prep school schedule with a Tier I 19U schedule. More than 60 players have passed through the Stars program on their way to NCAA women’s hockey teams.

Whether the players fill one of the Stars’ team rosters in the winter or take their skills back home after a boost in the spring, they know that the time in Stowe will be spent being exposed to ways to improve their game.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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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.


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.


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.


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.