Monday night’s NIHL meeting gave us our first look at preliminary team counts for the upcoming travel hockey season. AHAI was encouraged to see 5 more clubs commit mite teams to the upcoming NIHL season; Rockford, Champaign Chiefs, Pekin, Blackbirds, and Yellowjackets. In all there are 19 clubs that are placing mite teams in NIHL this season. Those clubs represent about 38 mite teams. Each metallic level (Gold, Silver, Bronze) will have 10-15 teams participating this season.
A special shout out to the Admirals and Irish who have decided to go 100% half-ice/cross-ice with all their mites this season. The Admirals are looking to become a model association with USA Hockey.
As has been stated in the past, AHAI is not eliminating full-ice hockey as some have suggested. We (AHAI and USA Hockey) are working under the well founded premise that mites playing upwards of 35 to 40 full-ice games in approximately 6 months is not the optimum way to develop them for the long-term. Think about what 40 games represents: half an NHL season, more games than most Division 1 colleges play, and almost as many as most Junior teams. No matter what your child does this winter, we hope it is an enjoyable season. For those leaving AHAI and USA Hockey, we hope to see you back again the following year. For those mites staying in NIHL, congratulations for staying the course and supporting the league that has supported all of us for so long. We will have more updates in the next edition of SNAPSHOT.