QUESTION: Why doesn’t Tier I have a 2 Choice Rule like Tier II?
ANSWER: Thank you for your question. The short answer to your question is that Tier I hockey is “open hockey” and Tier II hockey is “community-based travel hockey”.
Open hockey means that any player is free to move to any of our 4 Tier I programs. They can even accept out-of-state players on Tier I open teams. As long as a player can make the team he is able to play where he wants. There are no limits.
Tier II is different from Tier I. Our 2 Choice Rule for Tier II hockey is AHAI’s emulation of “community-based hockey” which is exactly what other affiliates/states do, like Minnesota, Michigan, New York and Massachusetts. In those states you play ONLY where you live. Having parity in Tier II teams with those other states allows us to compete with them on a level playing field, both in games, tournaments and the USA Hockey regional/national championships. In Illinois, about 20 years ago we changed the rule from strict “districting”, which Illinois had in place for the previous 30 years, to 2 Choice because there were so many new rinks being built and others going out of business; AHAI could not keep up. So, we do have 2 choices and not just 1 choice.
QUESTION: I have a question about application of the 2 Choice Rule. Our club is not offering a USA Hockey or AHAI team for the 8U players. If my son plays AAU Mites this year, will he be charged with a Choice under the AHAI 2 Choice rule? If he goes to another club to play USA Hockey/AHAI will he be charged his 2nd Choice?
ANSWER: The short answer is no. It would not be held against the 8U player if he has no option at his present club. The AAU is not an AHAI sanctioned program so it does not figure into the AHAI 2 Choice Rule. Any 8U player whose current hockey club does not field a USA Hockey/AHAI team at a given level will not be charged an additional choice if you do move your player to a USA Hockey/AHAI club. However, be sure to file an online petition with the Tier II Committee requesting an additional Choice option. While the request will not be granted this year (because you still have 2 Choices available to you), filing a petition now will document the situation you may find yourself in if an additional choice is needed in the future.
The CSDHL, or Central States Developmental Hockey League, is a league that operates independent of AHAI. As long as they adhere to their league by-laws and are not “doing anything detrimental to the sport of hockey”, there is little AHAI can say about the member teams starting dates. In Illinois we have a positive start date for Tier II and Tier III teams of September 1st, no exceptions. Other affiliates can determine their own starting dates for their various levels and age divisions. That means they can differ from those of Illinois teams.
If you look to Missouri, they do in fact start earlier. If you look north to Minnesota, they typically do not start until much later in the fall, like October. We encourage all teams and other affiliates to start when we do. Kids should not be playing hockey all summer and the start dates should be “fair” or equal for all teams. Unfortunately that is not always the case. While we try to do that for our Illinois teams, all we can do is encourage those in other affiliates, not direct or require them to start after September 1st.
What AHAI is not willing to do is make the same mistake as other affiliates and allow our players/teams to start earlier in the summer to form teams and practice. If we did that, we would have year-round hockey with the full endorsement and encouragement of the governing body, AHAI.