The 2014 Amateur Hockey Association Player Development/Identification Tryout Camp concluded the weekend of April 11, 2014. As determined by the ranking process which started in January, the Head Coaches of Tier I, Tier II and High School Varsity assembled the top Illinois players in the 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 birth years for this Player Development Camp. The players who participated should be very proud of their accomplishments as only 36 Forwards, 24 Defensemen and 8 goalies were selected per birth year to participate in this AHAI Player Development Camp.
The camp started on Friday night with a position specific “practice”. This was followed by a total of 3 games per birth year for the players to compete in, which were held on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday morning, April 12th, prior to the players’ first game, we brought U17 Head Coach, Don Granato, from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP) to deliver an important message about the impact of a players’ off-ice character, conduct and appearance (both personally and in social media) which will play a role in their potential advancement. Coach Granato spoke on numerous other topics as well, including not allowing the disappointment of not being selected to define a player. The responses from Coach Granato’s discussions were very positive and received with tremendous enthusiasm from both the players and parents who attended.
At this year’s AHAI Player Development Camp, I invited over 40 unbiased, high-quality evaluators to evaluate these players over the 3 days. Well over one-half of these evaluators had not coached at the birth year they were evaluating. These independent evaluators were made up of ex-professional (NHL, AHL, OHL) players, high level College/Junior Coaches and current/former Scouts. They all have a very keen eye and undisputable ability to recognize a player’s skill and talent level.
Not to my surprise, as in the past years, all the evaluators’ player rankings were very consistent in their assessments of the skill level of the players they selected to move on to the Central District Festival and Tryout Camps.
The AHAI allocation for the 1997, 1998 & 1999 birth years to advance to compete in the Central District Festival is 2 goaltenders, 7 defensemen and 11 forwards for each of the aforementioned birth years. The Central District Tryout Camp Festival is held in Fond du Lac, WI on May 2nd through May 4th. These players will compete against the very best players selected from the 6 States – Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois – that makes up the USA Hockey Central District. From this camp, players will then be selected for the privilege to attend the week long USA Hockey National Camps.
The AHAI allocation for the 2000 birth year to advance is 4 goaltenders, 9 defensemen and 15 forwards. The players selected from the AHAI Player Development Camp, will attend the week long USA Hockey Central District Player Development Bantam Camp at Iowa State University in Ames, IA from June 15th through June 20th.
As you can imagine, the evaluators had some very difficult decisions facing them in light of this wonderful, very deep talent pool of players they had to select from. It takes a lot of time, effort and dedication. I’m very proud of each and every one of them who have devoted themselves to make this process work so well.
Congratulations to all the elite players selected for participation in this year’s Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois Player Development/Identification Tryout Camp, and the very best of luck to those who were selected for the privilege to participate in the Central District Player Development Camps.
Player Development Chairman
Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI)
Click HERE for the list of players who will receive an invitation to attend the Central District Player Development Camps / Festivals.