By Stefan Kubus -
SAULT STE. MARIE – The Michigan Amateur Hockey Association held their annual Board of Directors meeting Saturday morning, inside the Kewadin Casino Hotel and Convention Center in Sault Ste. Marie.
Below is a briefing of items discussed during the meeting. Voting for all major rule changes for the governing body of hockey in Michigan will take place Sunday morning.
USA Hockey witnessed a 2.1-percent growth in overall registrations this past year, with a small fall-off in the Bantam and Midget levels. In total, there was 511,178 player registrations.
For the state of Michigan, however, there was a drop-off in registration across the board, with 750 less players, down from 54,251. But geographically speaking, Districts 3 and 6 experienced growth. Perhaps the bigger surprise from the trends is that District 6 – which contains cities such as Kalamazoo, Jackson and Muskegon within its borders – has now seen growth the last six years in a row.
Unfortunately, player trends also dropped off overall.
In the Mitten, membership progression for the 14U youth saw a huge decrease overall, as did the 8U youth. The greatest increase of the 8U members in 2011-12 was seen in District 6, with Rockford having the most new members (63).
Among the top-10 8U programs in the state, Kalamazoo (296) and Kensington Valley (268) lead the way in total kids enrolled.
MAHA also reported that their Try Hockey for Free clinics – fueled by a grant from the Detroit Red Wings Foundation – struggled this past year. In fact, MAHA had to send some of the money back to the foundation because they couldn’t use it all.
There were 20 total clinics put on, and 570 new players brought in to go along with it. The goals set forth at the beginning of the campaign were to have 30 clinics up and running, and tab 1,500 new kids.
In an effort to grow girls hockey in the state, something MAHA President George Atkinson was vocal about early on in the meetings, October 13-14 will be Girls’ Hockey Weekend.
Mark your calendars, as Hockey Weekend Across America is set for February 15-17, with the included Hockey Day in Michigan – sponsored by MiHockey – taking place on the 16th. Also on Hockey Day in Michigan will be a MAHA-sponsored American Development Model jamboree.
There were discussions across four different proposals today involving changes at the Mite level, with regard to the cross-ice program. The fate of those proposals rests in the hands of the MAHA voters. MAHA will also be creating a plan, headed up by a special committee, for implementation of the ADM principals to present to USA Hockey by December.
Amongst the MAHA goals for the 2012-13 season, developing a plan to implement the USA Safe Sports Program was one of the most prominent. In cooperation with the United States Olympic Committee, MAHA hopes to make the Mitten a safer hockey community in several ways, such as performing background checks on coaches and billet families and educating parents on what to look for in sexual molestation issues.
Also, MAHA is aiming to place 25 sets of cross-ice hard dividers in Michigan during the 2012-13 season. At a total of $7,000, MAHA would fund $3,000 and is asking the rinks and associations around the state to provide $2,000 each. After some discussion, this received a majority support.
On the technological front, MAHA is also becoming increasingly active to keep up with the latest and greatest.
Last year, MAHA utilized an online system that made it easy to report game misconducts and suspensions online in a database. It was announced that this system is going nationwide next year, which means there won’t be any issues on teams from out of state coming in with potentially-suspended players.
For coaches, there will be a coaching app available, exclusive to USA Hockey members. A plethora of content will be downloadable for coaches who wish to take their iPad on the ice or use other forms of technology to benefit their teams.
MAHA also is recommending a policy change to who can be on the ice in practice, to allow up to 6-8 instructors to be on the ice at once at the 6U and 8U levels. For lead instructors of the MAHA initiation program, a level one certification, ADM module, background check, and registration with USA Hockey are all required. To be an on-ice practice station instructor, the same requirements must be met, except a level one certification is not needed.
Bob Mancini, regional manager for USA Hockey’s American Development Model and former coach at Ferris State, provided results of a body checking survey today, as well.
A group of 13,683 that consisted of parents, coaches, and officials responded to the survey. All three groups agreed that a new rule to start body checking at Bantam, rather than Pee-Wee, allowed for greater emphasis on teaching fundamentals. Mancini added that, according to studies, if you start body checking at Bantam, as opposed to Pee-Wee, the number of injuries are slightly smaller.