Hockey Alberta capped a very busy 2014-15 season by holding Spring zone meetings in Spirit River, Lloydminster, Sangudo, Sylvan Lake, Fort MacLeod, Airdrie, Camrose, Edmonton and Calgary.
The meetings served as a wrap-up to the just-concluded season, as well as an opportunity for Hockey Alberta to unveil plans for the upcoming season.
The 2015-16 season has some significant initiatives planned relating to the growth and evolution of the Hockey Development Model in Alberta. These initiatives were circulated through Information Bulletins to Local Minor Hockey Associations (LMHA) prior to the Zone meetings, and resulted in some good question and answer sessions.
Specifically, the following will be undertaken for the 2015-16 season:
NON-BODY CHECKING OPTIONS: Hockey Alberta is working with associations and leagues to assist in developing local options for players with regard to non-body checking regulations at the Bantam and/or Midget levels. The first step is to compile a list of initiatives planned by LMHAs or leagues for 2015-16. Once that information has been reviewed, Hockey Alberta will be offering sanction options for tournaments or exhibition games to allow a larger audience to see what non-body checking looks like at the Bantam or Midget level. At the end of season, feedback from participants will be reviewed, and plans developed for 2016-17.
INITIATION HOCKEY: Hockey Alberta is adopting Initiation Program guidelines, for players six years and under, and will work with LMHAs on the transition to incorporate these guidelines into their operational structure. The guidelines focus on players having fun, and outline an official playing surface that is one-half, one-third or one-quarter the size of a regular playing surface, less stringent registration and rules requirements, and instructor training that is appropriate for the age and development level of the players. Resources for LMHAs and instructors will be available prior to the start of the season.
AA HOCKEY: A standardized model for the operation of AA level hockey in Peewee, Bantam and Midget divisions will be implemented. The new AA system is based on the philosophy of having similarly-skilled players compete with and against each other and providing skill development opportunities through a “feeder” system that bridges the gap between grassroots and AAA/Elite hockey. The AA Model establishes recruitment areas that allow players to progress from an LMHA, to AA programs, and up to the Alberta Development Model.
FEMALE HOCKEY: A new Female Model will be finalized in 2015-16 to implement a framework for the overall operation of Female Hockey in Alberta starting in 2016-17. The model will feature a pyramid structure with Team Alberta programs as the focal point, fewer teams and no recruitment boundaries at the Midget AAA level, a new province-wide 16-team Midget AA league, a regional philosophy for LMHAs to restructure grassroots leagues, and a focus on Long Term Player Development principles.
Additional details on these initiatives, and other plans for the 2015-16 season, will be discussed during the Hockey Administration stream at Hockey Alberta’s Annual General Meeting and Hockey Conference in Calgary, June 12-13.