General FAQs

QUESTION: I have heard that AHAI Committees dictate what happens in Illinois hockey. What is the process for rule changes within AHAI?

ANSWER: That is a common misconception. For AHAI bylaws – only the members can vote change AHAI bylaws. For AHAI rules – only the AHAI volunteer board can change AHAI rules. The committees are permitted to change their procedures only. The chair of any committee or any member can only recommend to the AHAI Board to change a rule. But no committee chair can change any AHAI rule by him or herself. The AHAI Board must ratify any change in rules. Only you, the membership, through the vote of your club, may modify or change any of AHAI’s bylaws.

Likewise, only the vote of the volunteer directors of USA Hockey may modify any of USA Hockey’s rules and regulations.

I hope that sheds a bit of light on how AHAI and USA Hockey operates.

QUESTION: Isn’t there an AHAI Checking clinic?

ANSWER: There is no Bantam checking clinic requirement within AHAI’s rules. I think you are looking for the NIHL requirement for said clinic – NIHL does have a requirement to attend a checking clinic before playing Bantam-age hockey.

AHAI and USA hockey subscribe to progressively teaching all players about body contact from Mite through Pee Wee; angling a player right up through full body contact. Thus they should be ready for full body contact at Bantam age. These are the progressive steps every youth coach should be taking with our players. It is through this progressive process that AHAI is trying to assure the safety of our players. If your youth coach is NOT featuring these techniques, then you should speak to him and the club about their inclusion in practice, and execution in games.

If you are still looking for a clinic, may I suggest you contact your own club or NIHL for suggestions.

QUESTION:  Why does AAA not get to play its State games at Bensenville with all the other teams? – A Curious AAA Parent

ANSWER: The AAA clubs opted to change the event, thus moving it out of Bensenville. Tier 1 is our premier player level, and as such, the AAA State format is chosen by AAA clubs. It is a round robin event, followed by a “best of 3 games”. Thus it is virtually impossible to put “best of 3” at Bensenville. There is nothing AHAI would like better than to put the Tier 1 Championship game at Bensenville. AHAI will try again in 2017 to do so. For 2016, the host club is Team Illinois of the Leafs Ice Center in West Dundee, with Championship games there March 5th and 6th.

QUESTION: I was thinking of joining the AHAI Board or an AHAI Committee in some capacity. Can you tell me what the compensation is for a Board member? – AHAI Player’s Parent

ANSWER: There is NO compensation for the AHAI Board. AHAI is the National Governing Body (NGB) for Ice Hockey in Illinois. There are 15 elected AHAI Board members, and none of them is compensated with any salary, neither are the committees. The positions are strictly volunteer positions, performed for the love of the game or the care of the players and their development in the sport. If you have time or dedication to volunteer AHAI would like to hear from you.

QUESTION: I have heard that if you play a player who is not listed on the score sheet it counts as a forfeit. Is this true? If so, are there are other penalties? Last night High School “A” played High School “B” and High School “A” played the “Doe” brothers. The older brother was listed on the score sheet, but the younger brother was not (he played the earlier JV game and was on that score sheet).

ANSWER: Ultimately the roster is the absolute jurisdiction. The score sheet should reflect each player on the ice for a given game. The referee is supposed to check that (by player count usually). Mistakes can be made and I think that is what happened here.

The older brother is on the Varsity roster. The younger brother is on the varsity roster (as a double rostered JV player); the younger brother is on the JV roster as well.

I think what happened here is the team brought up the younger “Doe” brother for a game and forgot to put his name on the score sheet. This absolutely needs to be corrected as it might count as one of his games playing up on the 7up/down rule.  But there is no hard and fast rule about forfeiting if he is not on the score sheet. If there is an illegal player in a game – if he was not on the actual roster – then there could be consequences.  But my little investigation – which is what would happen with a formal complaint – revealed he was on the actual roster, properly.  Only in state tourney play is it stated as an absolute – that an illegal roster/player will constitute a forfeiture – no question. That may be where the confusion comes into play.

QUESTION: Why does AHAI not allow team sponsorships? We see teams from out of state all the time with sponsor names and/or logos on their uniforms, and I know they have considerably lower fees- I check!

ANSWER: AHAI does not prohibit team sponsorships. A club (or team with their club’s consent) can obtain whatever sponsors it wishes. AHAI would encourage sponsorships for all clubs to offset the costs of playing our sport. But all sponsorships must be to the club or the team itself and not directly to the player. The latter would have a negative affect on the corporate status of the club (501.c.3 Not for Profit) and the player’s amateur status.

As to the difference in costs of hockey in different states, that is primarily dependent on subsidized ice costs in the state. Here in Illinois most of our rinks are privately owned and the cost of ice is about 80% of a club’s total budget; however, sponsorships, especially large ones, could be an avenue to reduce a club’s or a team’s costs, thus reducing player fees.

QUESTION: Is there a fee for the AHAI Annual Meeting and Board Seminars that will be held on May 31, 2015?

ANSWER: The AHAI Annual meeting is free and open to all that wish to attend. We would like to have the board members of the clubs, but parents would be welcomed as well.

QUESTION: We have 19 skaters and 1 goalie. According to Rule 201: Composition of Teams, we will have to sit one of our players for each game.  Is this correct?

ANSWER: Yes, the rule cited (Rule 201) is a USA Hockey rule. No team may have more than 18 skaters dressed for any given game. I wish we had some flexibility on this rule, but unfortunately we do not. If it is any consolation, all hockey teams – youth, junior, collegiate and international are governed by the same rule – a maximum of 18 skaters dressed on the bench, total of 20 players.

QUESTION: Does AHAI/USA Hockey have any rules or guidelines in regards to advertising on a website or in regards to particular content that would be disallowed? Are there any rules or regulations in regards to having any type of sponsorship on game jerseys?

ANSWER: Please reference AHAI Rules and Regulations – Article II, Section F: Amateur Play – General Principles.  Basically, funds cannot be “direct” to the player.  As an example, a “donor” cannot sponsor a player by paying his hockey fees.  Any donation must go to the club, and the club must then decide how to disperse funds based on its written policy.  Therefore, the club must have a written policy on criteria and the basis for that criteria.  Another example might be selling of raffle tickets – the monetary proceeds cannot go to the person selling the raffle tickets, but a predetermined cash prize for the person selling the most raffle tickets could be offered by the club.  The key is no funds directly to a person/player, and a predetermined written method in the club to distribute any funds raised.  All funds MUST initially go the hockey club, the 501.c.3.  I hope that helps sorting out sponsorships and fundraising.

QUESTION: “Where do hockey players come from…where do they go?”

ANSWER: This is a very good question…where do the 18,000 players in Illinois come from? Primarily they come from Chicago area families who want their children to be active and healthy through playing sports. Some have a family history rooted in ice hockey, some parents are inspired by the Olympic Games or the incredible success of the Blackhawks these past 5 years! In Illinois these are all factors drawing parents and their kids to the sport.

When do kids come to play? Ice hockey is unique in that the kids generally have to start young – 10 and under. In both court and turf sports the inherent ability to walk or run or stand upright will allow you access to those sports at most any age. Ice hockey is different. You must be skilled enough to skate – at some level of proficiency – that is generally why hockey players come from that 10 and under group. By the time kids are 13 entering high school and want to play the “greatest game on earth”, it can be very difficult to break in. The acquisition of new players is generally kids 5 through 10, our largest age group…some 7,000 players.

Where do they go? In Illinois the numbers of players are growing larger until they are 10 years old. 40% of ALL hockey players, 7,000 in Illinois, are under 10 years old. But as they get older the kids find other things to do: specialize in only one sport or other interests. When kids get to High School there is another precipitous change in players as about 35% have left the game, again, to do things that compete for their interest. After kids enter high school if they play hockey, they usually continue to play throughout their High School careers…about 5800 players.

The Challenge! How do we expose the game to new players – and how do we keep their interest?  Better known in some circles as Acquisition and Retention. USA Hockey has offered to each individual hockey club, the “2 and 2 Challenge”. Simply, this means get 2 more NEW players than you did last year – GROWTH – and keep 2 more players in your program that you did last year – RETENTION. Sounds simple enough. If every club could do that the players in Illinois would swell by more than 1,000 players! But this is not so easily accomplished.

This past year there were several clubs in Illinois that met the Challenge.  Please see 2 and 2 Challenge Article for complete list of clubs.  Kudos and thanks to these clubs for their efforts. This is USA Hockey and AHAI’s future.

Why 2 and 2 Challenge?

In Illinois in 2008-2009:

  • 71% of all 4 year olds did not return as 5 year olds
  • 51% of all 5 year olds did not return as 6 year olds
  • 34% of all 6 year olds did not return as 7 year olds
  • 24% of all 7 year olds did not return as 8 year olds

We were losing 45% of all players 4-8 years old! We needed to make our sport more kid friendly and FUN!

In short those clubs were able to find ways to make hockey more fun for the players and meet the “2 and 2 Challenge”. Basically, if the kids are having fun, the parents will sign the kids up for hockey programs and teams. One enormous key to making our game more fun has been the American Development Model, or ADM. But that is a subject for another day……