It started with Roger Grillo, USA Hockey’s Massachusetts/New England District American Development Model manager encouraging Andover Hockey Association hockey directors Eddie and Kelly Hill to attend the North American Rink Conference and Expo in Columbus, Ohio.
The Hills immediately put together a presentation for the board of directors.
“Andover is a huge association [of 36 teams],” Eddie Hill said. “They asked us for help. Now the association has structure. Our practices have structure and meaning. It’s a guide we’re following made up by brilliant hockey minds."
“Fast forward four and five months out, our parents, coaches and players are seeing the benefits of [USA Hockey’s American Development Model] — specifically the structure of the ADM that we put in place.”
Of all the courses that were offered, the one that proved to be the most beneficial to the Hills was USA Hockey’s certification course.
“For me, personally, the experience in that course was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Hill said. “For us to listen and learn from the most brilliant hockey kinds in our country … Kelly and I were sponges.
“The course itself and the presentation was so invigorating for us. We run camps in Massachusetts and this course was a breeding ground for information.”
The Hills also relished the opportunity to further educate themselves in long-term athlete development.
“From an association standpoint, what I wanted to bring back to Andover were the priorities for developing youth hockey players,” Hill said. “Fundamental skills are a huge piece for me. In addition, character development and life skills are huge in what we do as hockey directors and coaches.
“What we identify with in our program includes being a good teammate, citizen and family member. Hockey has good life skills built into it.”
Even though Hill already was cognizant of the ADM’s benefits, his belief was fortified after attending the NARCE conference.
“You implement the ADM or you don’t,” he said. “We chose to implement a world-leading program in the ADM.”
The ADM is of particular importance to the Hills because, in their positions with Andover, they conduct coaches meetings, create and distribute practice plans for the entire association, hold tryouts and placements and more.
“We observe games and see each team play twice a year,” Hill said. “We created a skill development progress report.
“Most importantly we run team practices which we call practice plusses. Two days a week, Kelly and I hold a three-team practice.”
The Hills also are involved in the annual Heseltine Tournament, which is a cross-ice 8U tournament held in November.
“What was amazing to me, personally, was watching our 8Us play and watching the small-area puck battles and watching how hard our kids were competing for the puck,” Hill said. “I was thrilled with the compete level of our kids.
“Then, at practice, I had the same group in a small area for a two-on-two game and saw the same thing. It really hit me that our 8U players are competing so hard for the puck.”
Because the Hills ensure that players are put in a game-like environment for practices, when it’s time to play games, what they’ve learned has become second nature.
“We have station-based practices where we take away time and space,” Hill said. “A lightning bolt went through me. I shouldn’t have been surprised, because Andover is a special place to be right now because we have an athlete-first approach.
“We now have structure for our program from 8U all the way up. We have every team and coach moving in the same direction.”
That direction ensures players will progress in their development instead of regressing or plateauing.
“Number one, with our practices, our approach has been from a coaching standpoint that they have become our games,” Hill said. “Our coaches bring excitement to our drills. The players feed on that. The coaches also bring knowledge. The coaches get the practices plans e-mailed to them.
“When it’s time for practice, we’re moving. Every second is accounted for.”
Hill firmly believes that structured practices combined with the ADM are of the utmost importance for younger players.
“Our young players are only young players for so many years,” he said. “If they don’t get those fundamental skills, they miss that window of opportunity to learn.
“It’s the same as basic reading skills in schools.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
QUESTION: In a game with two referees, during a stoppage both teams accidentally send six skaters out during the line change (both teams have their goalkeeper in). The ref dropping the puck does not notice both teams have too many players on the ice and drops the puck. The attacking team scores after the face-off and the goal stands. Is this the correct call?
ANSWER: A team cannot score a legal goal while having too many players on the ice. However, since it is the responsibility of the officials to ensure the proper number of players are on the ice prior to dropping the puck, the team with the extra players should not be penalized.
QUESTION: I’m allowed to have 18 skaters dress for a game, but can I have alternates that are allowed to practice and not play in games? My team is the lowest available level in our program for our age. I have two players that are on the bubble and would like them to continue to develop as an alternate on top of my 18 skaters and 1 goalie. Is this allowed?
ANSWER: The Ask the Official forum is dedicated to the Playing Rules of USA Hockey, which do not govern practices. Please submit your question to your local hockey association, USAH Affiliate Body, or District Registrar for an answer to this question. Contact information can be found in the USA Hockey Annual Guide.
QUESTION: After the whistle a player takes 4 - 6 strides towards an opponent, launching himself at him in a violent fashion but not making contact due to the opponent moving out of the way. What penalty would/should be called if any? Charging is not an option based on the wording of contact having to be made. Would Attempt to Injure be a valid in the situation?
ANSWER: Contact must be made to assess a player a penalty for Charging. However, if the game officials determine that the player was deliberately attempting to injure the opponent, then a Match penalty could be assessed.
QUESTION: When is the puck considered tied up and the whistle should be blown stopping play. Does it have to be covered up or can he have it frozen between his arm and chest.
ANSWER: Play should be stopped when the officials determine that the goalkeeper has possession and control of the puck.
QUESTION: Should players ineligible for the game be crossed off the scoresheet at the conclusion of the game?
ANSWER: The game-sheet team rosters should list all players who were present, dressed and eligible to participate in the game. All missing, sick or injured players should be removed the team roster after the game concludes.
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