The Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, is the official training facility of the Philadelphia Flyers. Now, for the first time, it’s about to become the home rink of two girls’ hockey teams.
None of the four Flyers Skate Zones in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey had ever had a girls’ program before this winter, when the Voorhees location hosted two 10-week learn-to-play sessions that drew much larger crowds than anticipated.
That response, and consultation with the parents of girls who participated in the program, convinced Flyers Skate Zones Director of Business Development Jeremy Hall that it was time to take an immediate next step.
From that, the Lady Flyers were born with the announcement of the 2015 Lady Flyers Spring Development Program.
The spring program, planned for April through early June, will feature 8-10 practices and 2-4 games for two Lady Flyers teams. Hall said the games will be arranged against other New Jersey girls’ teams or, if needed, against slightly younger youth teams in the limited travel program.
“It’s been a great process up through the last few months to see how quickly this has taken off,” Hall said. “To carry that momentum, we’ve tried to keep them involved in the spring.
“We kicked around a couple of different ideas, and the one that we settled on is to continue to focus on the development part, being that these girls are still new to ice hockey.”
The games that Hall hopes to arrange against other “semi-local girls’ teams” will be the first ever played by most of the participants in the program.
Prior to taking his position as director of business development for all the Flyers Skate Zones, Hall was hockey director in Voorhees. The Voorhees location is the busiest of the four Flyers Skate Zones, and it already had eight girls skating on co-ed teams there, so Hall decided it was the natural location to host the new girls’ program.
“We were trying to get something going for girls’ hockey in our Atlantic District and in southern New Jersey, where they really isn’t any,” Hall said. “It’s an untapped territory.”
Hall set a goal of getting 10 new girls on the ice for the first 10-week session.
“Twenty-eight girls registered, and we had the consistency of about 25 on the ice almost every week,” Hall said.
Flyers Skate Zone repeated the program. It followed the same philosophy as the facility’s six-week learn-to-play program that has always been offered to boys, but with a twist: the girls’ program was free. Interest was so high that Flyers Skate Zone ended up having to cap participation at 63.
“When we opened it up and really started to market it, get it out there and have it be able to be free, it really pushed the number up,” Hall said. “After the success of that first 10-week session, to go from 25 to 63 was pretty remarkable. It was actually more than we ever anticipated.”
When the spring plans were discussed, parents had to decide the direction they wanted the program to take. They were nearly unanimous in their support of continuing to focus on practice and skill development through USA Hockey American Development Model guidelines while letting the girls’ program grow.
“It’s all based on skill development,” Hall said. “We spend a lot of time on skating, a lot of time on puck skills. It’s very ADM. We have a lot of stations. We have anywhere from six to upwards of 10 coaches on the ice.”
Hall said the first two Lady Flyers teams will be in the 10U and 12U age groups. Although the introductory sessions had some older and younger girls, the bulk of the participants hit that age range, showing there was enough interest for full teams at that level.
Before long, they will be making their debut together in game situations.
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.