USA Hockey announced today the addition of three youth hockey organizations which have earned designation as USA Hockey Model Associations, increasing the total number nationwide to 24.
With this designation, each has committed to fully implement programming dedicated to age-appropriate, age-specific skill development in accordance with USA Hockey's American Development Model throughout the 8-and-Under, 10-and-Under and 12-and-Under age classifications.
The California Heat includes teams at the 16U, 14U, 12U, 10U and 8U age classifications. Based in the San Fernando Valley, the organization is one of the oldest in the Southern California Amateur Hockey Association.
“I want our players to finish each season feeling as though they improved their individual skills and their team skills while having a lot of fun together, and that reflects USA Hockey and its American Development Model,” said Alec Benson-Dunn, California Heat hockey director and USA Hockey Level 5-certified coach. “That made it a natural fit for our club to pursue USA Hockey Model Association status, and we’re excited about what it will mean for our players, coaches and parents.”
The Los Angeles Junior Kings organization, which shares the Toyota Sports Center with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, is home to more than 400 players from 18U through 8U. Seven Junior Kings teams won California Amateur Hockey Association Tier I state championships last season, an unprecedented run of success for the club.
“Being recognized as a USA Hockey Model Association is both an honor and a privilege, and one our entire organization holds in the highest regard," said Nick Vachon, Junior Kings general manager of hockey operations. “As a club, we’ve always valued and fostered the age-appropriate teachings USA Hockey has instilled, and we look forward to championing that message even further to each and every one of our current and future players and coaches as they work toward reaching their full potential in both a positive and structured environment.
“Everyone involved in our program – most notably our players, coaches and parents – will benefit tremendously from the added support and guidance from USA Hockey as we continue to bring our entire organization to new heights, on and off the ice.”
McKinney is Texas’ first USA Hockey Model Association. The North Stars program includes teams at the 18U, 16U, 14U, 12U and 10U age classifications. Last season, the McKinney 18U and 16U teams claimed Texas Tier II state championships for the first time. Lucas Reid, the North Stars’ hockey director, helped initiate the effort to build toward USA Hockey Model Association status two years ago.
“The ultimate goal was to adopt the training methods recommended by USA Hockey because they have been shown to produce significantly better player development results,” said Reid.
As a benefit of their model association designation, each organization will receive in-person coaches training, on-ice instruction and parent resources from USA Hockey's national staff. Further, each program will also receive equipment, signage and educational resources from USA Hockey.
"We're pleased to welcome these new model associations and we're excited for the children who will benefit from these associations’ passion and commitment to age-appropriate skill development," said Kevin McLaughlin, senior director of hockey development for USA Hockey. "By taking this step, these new model associations are making a strong move to offer the best possible competition and training environment for their players."
Every youth hockey organization affiliated with USA Hockey has the opportunity to earn model association status. For more information on criteria, please click here.
Note: USA Hockey Model Associations span from coast to coast and now represent 15 states. For more information on USA Hockey’s Model Association program, please click here.
Even with almost 50 years of involvement in hockey, you can’t plan for the current state of the world and the impact coronavirus has had on our game. I think it is safe to say that nothing prepares you for the changes that have taken place in our daily lives and the uncertainty of when things might return to normal. Or in this case, what will become the new “normal.”
Our expertise is hockey, so what we’ll address in this piece: the impact of the global pandemic on our game and how likely it will affect our game in the immediate future.
USA Hockey continues to post information on COVID-19 on the main website. These updates keep our membership informed of specific programs and the changing safety recommendations that will be in place when hockey returns. Be sure to check back regularly for updates and other hockey information.
On the officiating front, much of what we are able to do from a program standpoint is connected to player events like national tournaments and player development camps. As you know, the national tournaments (along with the March, April and May IIHF World Championship events) were cancelled. The Officiating Program then canceled our two instructor training programs that were planned for late April and early May in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Colorado Springs, Colo.
At this time, details for any potential summer development camps are still being determined. On the player side, several camps we are connected to were cancelled, and the few camps that are still in planning have been dramatically downsized. The Officiating Program continues to monitor the decisions made for players and will take advantage of any opportunity we have to salvage our summer camp program and maximize participation.
The good news is, we are confident we will have a 2020-21 season. All indications show no reason to delay registration. It will open as scheduled on or around May 26, followed by the open book exams and online seminar curriculum on June 1.
SafeSport Training (required for anyone born in the year 2003 or earlier) and background screening (learn about the new national level screening program in the Q & A section) will also be available to complete at that time. If COVID-19 still has things slowed down in early June, it would be an ideal time to get these requirements completed.
The biggest unknown will be the timing in which we will be able to conduct seminars. The vast majority of rinks are currently closed, and many of them took this opportunity to remove ice to save operating costs and do maintenance. There is now doubt they will be prepared to quickly ramp up once they are allowed to do so, but as with most everything right now, the timing is uncertain. As a result, some of the earlier seminars may be pushed back a few weeks. The District Referees-in-Chief will secure ice times and facilities so we can provide seminar dates and locations as quickly as possible. We are also encouraging our instructors to think outside the box by providing some weeknight seminar options, and to look at other ways to best meet the needs of our members.
The Advanced Officiating Symposium, scheduled for Providence, R.I. in late July, is still going to plan. We will continue to monitor the situation, including local restrictions and travel advisories in the coming weeks, and we will announce any changes in advance to allow for alterations to travel arrangements. Click here for up-to-date information or to reserve your seat at the 2020 Advanced Officiating Symposium.
These are difficult times for everyone, and although our hockey family is important to us, it is a small fraction of the big picture that is impacting our daily lives. To quote Andy Dufresne in his letter for Red that he left under the big oak tree in The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. We hope the coronavirus is conquered with minimal loss of lives and a return to a prosperous normal as soon as possible. We hope your passion for the game of hockey will only grow as a result of its absence. We hope we are back on the ice in the coming months and that the 2020-21 season will be our best yet.
Thank you for your continued support of USA Hockey and don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do to make your hockey experience a better one. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and be prepared to be back on the ice soon.