The 2015 Amateur Hockey Association Player Development / Identification Tryout Camp concluded the weekend of March 22nd. 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 IL players in the 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 birth years for this Player Development Camp. The players who participated should be very proud of their accomplishments. Only 36 Forwards, 24 Defensemen and 8 goalies were selected per birth year to participate in this AHAI Player Development Camp.
The format for the 2001 birth year players stayed the same as in the past few years with one (1) very important skill specific practice held on Friday night and a total of three (3) games played between Saturday and Sunday.
This year we introduced a new format for the three oldest birth years, the 1998’s, 1999’s and 2000’s. They played one (1) game on Friday night and two (2) games on Saturday. After their last game on Saturday, all the evaluators met to select 34 players, within each of these three (3) birth years, to see who will play in the “Final 34” game on Sunday. Players checked the AHAI website on Saturday night as the names were posted of those selected players along with their game times.
There was a mandatory meeting for ALL players (and parents) held on Saturday, March 21st, prior to the players first game. After a formal welcome and congratulations was offered to all the players (and parents), a video was played that delivered important messages directly to these IL players from the Head Coach of the USA Hockey Nation Team Development Program (NTDP), U17 team, Coach Don Granato. He delivered messages about the impact of the choices they make off ice, character, conduct and appearance (both personally and in social media) which will play a role in their potential advancement. He also spoke on numerous other topics as well, to include not allowing the disappointment of not being selected to advance to define a player. The responses about Coach Granato’s video were overwhelmingly positive. As one parent stated, “for my son to get that advice and direction at this camp, from Coach Granato, makes it all worthwhile … even if he were unable to skate the rest of this weekend.”
This year, at the AHAI Player Development Camp, we had on average 10 unbiased, high quality evaluators per birth year to evaluate these players over the 3 days of this camp. Well over one half (½) of these evaluators had not coached at the birth year they were evaluating. These independent evaluator’s 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 evaluator’s player rankings were very consistent and similar in their assessments of the skill level of the players they selected to move on to the Central District Festival / Camps.
The AHAI allocation for the 1998, 1999 & 2000 birth years to advance to compete in the Central District Festival is 2 goaltenders, 7 defensemen and 11 forwards for each of these birth years. The Central District Tryout Camp Festival is held in Fond du Lac, WI on May 8th through May 10th. These players will compete against the very best players selected from the 6 States (to include IL) that makes up the USA Hockey Central District. From this camp, players will be selected for the privilege to attend the week long USA Hockey National Camps.
The AHAI allocation for the 2001 birth year to advance is 4 goaltenders, 9 defensemen and 15 forwards. These players selected from the AHAI Player Development Camp will attend the USA Hockey Central District 2001 Player Development Bantam Camp at Iowa State University in Ames, IA from June 21st through June 26th.
As you can imagine, the evaluators had some very difficult decisions facing them in light of this extremely skilled and 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 truly an unbiased process that works 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 – Chair
Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI)
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