By Doug Becht, Player Development – Chair, Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI)
The 2016 Amateur Hockey Association Player Development / Identification Tryout Camp concluded the weekend of April 8th. As determined by the ranking process which started in January, the Head Coaches of Tier I, Tier II. Prep and High School Varsity, assembled the top IL players in the 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 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 2002 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.
The format for the 1999’s, 2000’s and 2002’s was 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 held on Sunday. Players checked the AHAInews website, Facebook and Twitter 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, April 9th, 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 past 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 the ice, regarding 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”. Another parent stated, “The messages delivered by Coach Granato were a parents dream. They were 100% on target. They will not only serve help my son be a better person while developing in the game of hockey, but also prepare him for the real world … outside of playing this sport”.
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. Close to 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 1999 2000 & 2001 birth years to advance is 2 goaltenders, 7 defensemen and 11 forwards for each of these three birth years.
The USA Hockey Central District Player Development Select 15, 16 & 17 Festivals will be held May 6th -8th at the Darien Sportsplex Arena in Darien, Illinois. 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 2002 birth year to advance is 4 goaltenders, 9 defensemen and 15 forwards.
These players selected from the AHAI Player Development Camp are invited to attend the USA Hockey Central District Select 14 Camp held June 19th – 24th at Iowa State University and ISU Ice Arena in Ames, Iowa
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.
Click HERE for the list of players who received an invitation to attend the Central District Select 14, 15, 16 and 17 Player Development Festivals / Camps