By Doug Becht, AHAI Player Development Chairperson
The Central District 2014 Player Development Process
The USA Hockey Central District is comprised of six (6) states, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin (Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska are called the Midwest States). Mr. Norm Spiegel is the USA Hockey Central District Player Development Coordinator who oversees the Central District Camp. Norm is also a USA Hockey Director Representative, serves on the USA Hockey Youth Council and on the USA Hockey Player Development Committee.
Norm took the time to go into each team’s locker room on the first night to explain to all the players that they would ONLY be evaluated on their on ice efforts and the skills shown during this camp. He also explained that the allocations to move players on to the USA Hockey National Camp held in Amherst, New York is very limited. Of course, Norm also had the same discussion with all of the evaluators.
During this three (3) day camp held for the 1997, 1998, and 1999 birth year players the weekend of May 2nd – 4th, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Norm had 17 very highly respected evaluators in attendance. These included USA Hockey’s Marc Boxer, whose responsibilities not only include all Junior Hockey, but also include all aspects of USA Hockey’s Player Development Programs and Youth Hockey initiatives and governance in the United States, USA Hockey’s Central District Coach-In-Chief Doug Dietz, along with USA Hockey’s American Development Model Regional Manager, Guy Gosselin, who is a two-time U.S. Olympian and member of three (3) U.S. Men’s National Teams. Also included are other unbiased, high quality, very knowledgeable evaluators that come from within each District which includes ex-pro players, High School, College and Junior Coaches.
These evaluators met Friday and Saturday evening to discuss every player and begin preliminary picks for the National Camps. On Sunday all evaluators met after each age level finished their last game and they then completed the selection process. The majority must agree on the rankings. Players are then notified through the Central District website as to who advances into the USA Hockey National Camps.
The Central District allocation to move players into the National Camps held in Amherst, New York is as follows:
- The 1997 birth year: 1 goaltender, 6 defensemen and 11 forwards
- The 1998 birth year: 2 goaltenders, 6 defensemen and 11 forwards
- The 1999 birth year: 2 goaltenders, 7 defensemen and 13 forwards
To quote Norm, “Our staff of evaluators sent the top players to the National Camps regardless of where they came from. This happens consistently every year. This also speaks to the integrity of the process. I’m very proud to work with all of them!”
Click HERE or visit the Central District website at www.centraldistricthockey.org to see all the 1997, 1998 and 1999 players selected for the National Camps. The Central District player allocation to attend the USA Hockey National Camps has increased on average by 10% over the last 2 years.
The USA Hockey National Player Development Camps
It is very important that the evaluators at the Central District Player Development/Identification Tryout Camp select only the highest quality and skilled players to compete at the USA Hockey National Camps.
At the USA Hockey National Camps the very elite evaluators rank all the players attending from around the country with an “A”, “B” or “C” grade. The “A” players are D1 quality players, the “B” players are D2 quality and the “C” player is not likely to move on. If a District moves “C” players into the National Camp, they will lose a portion of their player allocation to send to the National Camp for the next season.
Mr. Jim Smith, who serves USA Hockey as an Executive Committee member, the USA Hockey Treasurer, Finance Committee Chair and the National Player Development Chair stated at a 2013 USA Hockey January Winter meeting, “The Central District is considered one of the leaders when it comes to the quality of players they move on to the USA Hockey National Player Development Camps. Their process of selecting players to move on to the National Camps is transparent, fair and inclusive. This is something we strive for with all of our District Camps.”
At the National Camps the staff selects the top players in the country at the 16 and 17 birth years to make up two teams that travel to Europe over the summer to compete and represent the United States in International competition.
We, at AHAI, are equally as proud of those coaches and evaluators from Illinois who made the hard decisions to choose the right players to represent our State’s hockey programs. Clearly, with the recognition that we in Illinois are getting at the District and National levels, the whole Player Development/Identification process is definitely working.
Congratulations and the very best of luck to all those players selected for participation in this year’s USA Hockey National Player Development Camps.