USA Hockey recently announced an addition to its slate of 2017 and 2018 Youth Tier I National Championship Tournaments. The new event – a single birth-year USA Hockey National Championship for 15-year-olds – was recommended by USA Hockey’s Youth Council and will be conducted as a two-year pilot tournament with potential to become a permanent part of the Youth Tier I Nationals in 2019. Each of Illinois’ Tier I programs, Chicago Young Americans, Chicago Fury, Mission and Team Illinois will offer a U15 team for the next two years.
USA Hockey and the Arizona Amateur Hockey Association will host the inaugural Youth Tier I National Championship for 15-year-olds in Scottsdale, Arizona, from April 6-10, 2017. Tier I teams comprised entirely of players born in 2001 will be eligible to compete.
“Age 15 is a pivotal point in a hockey player’s long-term development,” said Kevin McLaughlin, USA Hockey’s senior director of hockey development. “They’re segueing between true youth hockey and the next level of competitive development, so by offering a single birth-year Tier I national tournament for 15-year-olds, USA Hockey is putting those players in the best possible position to make that transition successfully.
At the conclusion of the pilot program in 2018, the pilot will be evaluated as to whether or not it should be permanently retained or eliminated as an official age level for Tier I across all USA Hockey.