AHAI Newsletter
Volume 1 Issue 15 
FacebookNewsletter ArchiveRule Changes2013-14 Calendar of Events
In This Issue

Official Media
Partner of AHAI
The 20th Annual Chicago Blackhawks Charities High School Hockey Classic
A.K.A. - The Ho Ho Tournament
The 20th Annual Chicago Blackhawks Charities High School Hockey Classic is scheduled to take place December 26-29, 2013 at the Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville. 
Last year's Ho Ho Tournament featured 20 high school teams with Glenbrook North being crowned champions, narrowly defeating Providence in the championship game 2-1.
2013-14 Central District Girls/Women Calendar
Click HERE for important Girls' and Women's calendar dates from the Central District.
Tier II State Tournament
Important Dates For Exemption Process, Registration & More...

Click HERE for important State Tournament calendar of events information.

A couple of weeks ago AHAI had its "College night". Our son has expressed an interest in playing Junior Hockey. My husband and I are not quite ready for our son to move away to play hockey. What Junior programs are available in the Chicago area?



The simple answer is that there are 2 teams in the Chicago area - the Tier I Chicago Steel in Bensenville, the Tier III Chicago Junior Bulldogs in Romeoville, and a little further away, the Wisconsin Rampage in Pleasant Prairie, WI. There is a also a Tier III team in Peoria and a Tier II team in Springfield as well. We currently do not have a Tier II level team in the Chicago area.  It is important for you to know more about the levels in Juniors so you and your son can make an informed decision.


There are really 3 reasons to play Junior Hockey - to extend playing in your youth hockey "career", to prepare for playing in college, or to find an avenue to the professional ranks. Keeping with the theme of "threes", there are also 3 Junior levels in the U.S, USA Hockey's Tier I, Tier II and Tier III.


Junior Tiers I and II are not pay to play - basically they are "free" for your son to play - provided he makes the team, of course! The air can get pretty thin when you get to the Junior Tier I and II levels as there are only 700 players among those ranks. All Tier III Junior teams are "pay to play" just like your youth hockey in Illinois. You foot the bill entirely.


The Tier I Juniors are comprised within a single league, the United States Hockey League (USHL). It is the premier Junior league in the entire country, an element of USA Hockey, and is 100% NCAA and ACHA (American College Hockey Association) compliant. There are 16 teams in this league, and doing the math would give you about 320 player spots. As to local programs, The Chicago Steel, playing out of The Edge in Bensenville are in the USHL. Others stretch across the Midwest from Ohio to Nebraska.


The Tier II Juniors are likewise entirely comprised within a single league, the North American Hockey League (NAHL). It is made up of 24 teams, with a little larger geographical footprint than the USHL, providing about 480 player spots. Tier I and II are extremely competitive. 


Out east is another story, another structure with Junior teams supplanting midget hockey and Prep schools playing a dominating role. Juniors out east is also very competitive and high quality, but always a "pay to play" Tier III structure....and far away from the Chicago area.


AHAI would advocate for Tier I, Tier II and Tier III opportunities in the Chicago area. The non "pay to play" is a very difficult philosophy to support in this area because there are so many other things to do, rather than watch Junior hockey; therefore, Tier I and II in our area need other supplemental funding. But in towns like those in Northern Iowa, the Junior teams' game attendance flourishes. It is tough to field Junior teams in Chicago, but there are those that are benevolent to the sport (Chicago Steel and Chicago Junior Bulldogs (www.NA3HL.com) and provide the Junior venue for those that can make it.              


If your son is thinking of playing Juniors, do not go forward without contacting AHAI. They will be glad to be of assistance.


Editor's Note: Readers may email any questions to Ask AHAI to be answered in future issues. 
Ask the Coach

My current Level CEP certification will expire in December, and I still need to take a CEP Clinic but don't see any in Illinois. What do I do?



AHAI has conducted 11 CEP Clinics in August, September and October with over 1500 seats available for Levels 1, 2 & 3. The 2013-14 AHAI CEP Clinic Schedule was concluded on October 27. Click HERE to use the USA Hockey search engine on the USA Hockey website to locate upcoming clinics in nearby states at the CEP Level that you need. Enter the Level you need and click the Search Button to list all of the remaining CEP Clinics in the country. Select the Level clinic that is most convenient to you and register.


Editor's Note: Readers may email any questions to Ask the Coach to be answered in future issues. 
2014 National Hockey Coaches Symposium
August 21-24 at the J.W. Marriott Resort and Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada


"The National Hockey Coaches Symposium is a marquee event that offers coaches a valuable opportunity to learn from the very best," said Mark Tabrum, USA Hockey's director of coaching education. "We encourage coaches to register early as this event sells out quickly." Held every other year, the National Hockey Coaches Symposium is for aspiring coaches seeking to attain their Level 5 certification, the highest offered by USA Hockey.



5 Illinois Teams Bring Home Bauer World Invite Championships
View more photos from the Bauer World Invite on AHAI's Facebook Page!
Bantam Major 99's Elite
Chicago Mission
MVP - Sean Dooghe
Bantam Minor 00's Elite
Chicago Mission
MVP - Jake Pivonka
Pee Wee Minor 02's Elite
Chicago Mission
MVP - Landon Slaggert
Squirt Major 03's AAA
Rockford Hockey Club
MVP - Zachary Burfoot
Chicago Mission
MVP - Grace Zarzecki
Add a Newsletter Title to Your Legacy!
Winner Receives Signed Blackhawks Jersey - You Pick the Player!

Help us name AHAI's e-Newsletter! We need a catchy name for our bi-weekly e-Newsletter and we are looking to our Illinois hockey community for creative ideas. See if you can add a newsletter title to your legacy! The winner will receive bragging rights AND a Blackhawks jersey signed by a current Blackhawks player of your choosing! Contest ends Monday, December 16, 2013. Winner will be announced in Issue 18 on Thursday, December 26, 2013. Good luck!

Mites Skate to Success
AHAI Mite Jamboree

The weekend of October 26-27 over 70 mite teams took to the ice as 25 clubs sent teams to 4 host sites across the Chicagoland area to play multiple cross-ice games. The Jamboree was sponsored by AHAI, but organized by Scott Larsen of the Northern Illinois Hockey League (NIHL).
Miss the full Mite Jamboree wrap-up in our last newsletter? Click HERE.
IHHF 2008 Inductee, Jeff Nelson Speaks Out on ImPACT Baseline Testing
"I cannot understand why any parent would not have one done...and it's free!"

Recently we sat down with Jeff Nelson, member of the 2008 Inaugural Class of Inductees to the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame and former Division 1 Hockey Player at UIC, to talk about the importance of ImPACT Baseline Testing through the A Step aHead Program. 

Nelson told us that "as a High School and Bantam Central States Coach, I have seen far too often, kids returning to play before they are ready. Kids and parents just don't think a concussion will happen to their skater...until it does, and then they are not highly educated on it. My own son, who played for Naperville Central and now plays Junior hockey out east, sustained a concussion a few years ago. Luckily I had taken advantage of the A Step aHead Program with the entire team prior to his concussion. The baseline testing became an invaluable tool to ensure that he returned to the ice at the right time. The baseline test in my view should be mandatory for all bantams and above."


One Goal...One Kid at a Time
MinorHawks Program Develops Skills, Self-Confidence, Determination, Perseverance and Teamwork

The MinorHawks program is designed to enhance and standardize your facility's existing marketing, program and player instruction for new 4-8 year old players. It is offered under the auspices of USA Hockey, the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois and the Chicago Blackhawks Hockey Club. This program is targeted to bring more kids into your facility, and keep them there...because they are having FUN.


"Since our first year in 2010, the Downers Grove Jr. Sabres, has had over 600 players try hockey for the very first time. MinorHawks has given hundreds of kids an opportunity at trying the great game of hockey, without having to invest money in the equipment. The equipment rental program has given players a chance to see what it feels like to be dressed like Patrick Kane and shoot a puck for the very first time." 

~ Jon Woodring, Program Director, Downers Grove Jr. Sabres


Please contact Michael Durkin at membership@ahai2.org for any assistance with your particular program needs or click HERE to visit our link on the AHAI website.

200 Skaters Experience Youth Hockey for the First Time
Try Hockey for Free Day Wrap-Up & Photos

A record number - 12,602, boys and girls participated in USA Hockey's Try Hockey for Free Day on November 2, 2013. Right here in Illinois 200 children took to the ice. A total of 9 locations put on events that provided free equipment and a chance to experience youth hockey for the very first time. The next opportunity will be March 1, 2014, as part of Hockey Weekend Across America, presented by CCM. 


AHAI applauds the participating rinks/associations in Illinois for a job well done: Redwings Hockey Organization, Decatur Youth Hockey, Jet Hockey Training Arena, Nelson Center, Northbrook Bluehawks, Park Ridge Park District & Northern Express Hockey, Rink Side Ice Arena & Rheanna Walsh and the Evanston Youth Hockey Association.






Meet John Opoka, Referees' Category
Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame (IHHF) Inductee Series
This issue we begin our series on the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame's 2013 Class Inductees. We will feature at least one inductee as we lead up to the IHHF Induction Dinner held in their honor on Sunday, January 26, 2014 at the Belvedere Banquet Hall in Elk Grove Village.

John Opoka
Referees' Category
John played hockey in high school and started to officiate while in college at the age of 19. At that early age, John felt fortunate to have had his officiating advance primarily because of a man who he greatly respected, admired, and strived to emulate...Mr. Chet Stewart. Chet recommended John, and at that point he was voted into the collegiate chapter (NIHOA). The membership list was short, only twelve officials.

Editor's Note: Tickets are available by contacting Norm Spiegel at 847.269.2922 or jacole@comcast.net.
USA Hockey Award Patches
Hat Trick, Playmaker & Zero Club

USA Hockey provides award patches for players participating in games during the fall hockey season. Patches are limited to one of each patch per player per season. If a player is rostered on more than one team, they will not be able to earn the same patch on both teams. The award will be issued to the organization that is first to order the patch.


There are three different patches that can be earned. They are:

  • Hat Trick- 3 goals in one game
  • Playmaker - 3 assists in one game
  • Zero Club - No goals allowed by a goalie playing in one complete game
Christensen, Zehelein and Mazzaro
BMO Harris Bank Youth Hockey Player, Coach & Volunteer of the Month

Alex Christensen ~ Warren Township Blue Devils

Mark Zehelein ~ Rolling Meadows Renegades

Robert Mazzaro ~ Crown Point High School

For the past six seasons, BMO Harris Bank, in partnership with the Chicago Blackhawks, has honored one youth hockey coach and youth hockey player each month for outstanding achievements both on the ice and in their communities. This year a volunteer of the month will also be awarded. Each candidate was nominated by teammates, coaches, family or friends through the Chicago Blackhawks' website and chosen by an amateur hockey committee.

AHAI congratulates Alex, Mark and Robert on this honor and celebrates their achievements both on and off the ice.

World Hockey Invite a Shining Success

More than 9,600 people gathered at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Chicago for what was a showcase of featured youth games and plenty of fun. The World Hockey Invite presented by Bauer, the largest youth hockey tournament in the world, kicked off Halloween night and ran from Nov. 1-4 with great success. In total, 32 separate ice facilities provided 57 sheets of ice on which 1,137 games were played during a 57-hour window. The World Hockey Invite presented by Bauer is the "Best of the Best" competition with team representation from 33 USA states, six different Canadian Provinces, plus Russia, Latvia, Czech Republic and Slovakia.




USA Hockey Officiating Program
Clip of the Week

The USA Hockey Officiating Program is excited to release the Clip of the Week feature at USAHockey.com. Each week a new video clip will be posted to help educate officials, coaches, players, and parents in the playing rules of USA Hockey.
Win Two Front Row Blackhawks Tickets!

Major Onions is giving away a pair of Blackhawks tickets for the match-up against the New Jersey Devils on December 23rd. There are three ways to enter, but only one lucky winner (and the lucky winner's super-lucky friend). Parking passes are included, and the puck drops at 7pm.
6 Illinois Teams Bring Home 2nd
Bauer World Hockey Invite

U14AA - Chicago Mission

MVP - Cassidi Revere


2003 AAA - Falcons

MVP - Will Soloway


2001 AAA - Falcons

MVP - Henry Carlson


U16 Supreme - Chicago Mission

MVP - Tanner Laczynski


U16 Nexus - Chicago Hawks

MVP - Bradley Neal


U16 Vapor - Geneva Cyclones

MVP - Sam Leckbee

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