Overview of NIHL Team Declarations, Metallic Levels & Seeding

By Ruben Medina, NIHL Statistician

This is the season when many hockey clubs install new Boards, new NIHL Reps, new Hockey Directors and new Coaches. Their decisions on team placement will impact their club’s players and families Fall-Winter experience. Their decisions will also impact the other clubs in the league, some of whom have many years of experience with NIHL Seeding. To help everyone understand NIHL Team Declarations and Seeding we have prepared a brief summary that we hope is useful.

Clubs decide how many teams to place in the Northern Illinois Hockey League (NIHL) and into which Metallic Levels they believe they should go. NIHL Metallic Levels for Seeding in order of greatest strength to least strength are:

Gold A
Gold B
Silver A
Silver B (Squirt and PeeWee age levels)

Placement into Metallic Levels for Seeding is a club decision with a few exceptions:

  • Girls Tier I teams must seed at Gold (new proposed rule for 2017-2018)
  • Girls Tier II teams desiring to play in a Youth Division must seed at least at Silver

Seeding Round is typically an 8 game schedule that helps the league assess teams’ relative strength and then place each of 340+ teams in competitively balanced divisions for Regular Season play.

Team Declarations are required from all 49 clubs who are either NIHL Member Organizations or are clubs that have applied for, and been granted, Playing Privileges for this season.

Preliminary Team Declarations are taken at the July and August NIHL Meetings. These are non-binding, estimates that help the league plan its playing divisions and set the season’s fees.

Final Team Declaration is taken at the September NIHL Meeting. This declaration is binding and cannot be changed without penalty. The declaration made at this meeting is accompanied by payment of the club’s Organization and Teams Fees for the season. It will be the basis on which teams are placed in the appropriate age divisions, and metallic levels for the NIHL Seeding Round and for that weekend’s Scheduling Meeting.

Each club’s president or NIHL Rep receives a form for Team Declarations and they are responsible for completing it and returning it to NIHL at the three specified NIHL Meetings. It is sent to them as an email from the league secretary.

Seeding Round helps identify the strength of the teams at each Metallic Level and the results determine each team’s placement for Regular Season play. Based on these results, most teams will stay within a Metallic Level and are placed in competitively appropriate tiers, e.g. Silver Tier 1, Silver Tier 2, etc. A small quantity of teams will be moved up or down a Metallic Level for the Regular Season. Additionally, NIHL targets approximately 10 teams from the Gold A Seeding results for play in the league’s highest metallic level, called Elite. At the conclusion of the season, qualifying teams at the Elite and Gold A levels play a round-robin format in the end-of-season tournament, while qualifying teams from all other divisions play a single-elimination format.

Except for Gold A, it should be expected that there is little movement of teams from one Metallic Level to another between Seeding Round and the Regular Season. So, clubs need to be very attentive to where they place their teams in the Team Declaration. In the 2016-2017 NIHL Season, zero of the 340 teams in the league moved up or down 2 Metallic Levels. While every season can be different, for background here is a table of team movement from last season:

We are looking forward to an excellent 49th season of hockey in the Northern Illinois Hockey League. The key takeaway from this article is that each club needs to take time and care to assess the correct placement for every one of its teams before turning in their Final Team Declarations at the September NIHL Meeting.

Categories: NIHL, Tier II Hockey

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