Note: “ALcoach” posted the split on Minnesota Youth Hockey Forum based on information he had. To that data, I added the potential additional bantam A teams based on an association’s participation numbers.
The table below is based on the four (East, West, North, South) AA and A regional alignments in Minnesota Hockey’s Handbook. The Handbook defines which district participates in what regional and assigns 2 or 3 seeds to each district. The four bantam AA regional tourney’s (East, West, North, and South) and the four bantam A regional tourney’s (East, West, North, and South) potential team participation can then be viewed. YHH Comments are included in the table.
The table points out the potential flaws that should be addressed with this pilot program. The first and foremost is will this potential AA tourney’s alignment meet the objective for splitting last seasons A level tourneys into an AA tourney and an A tourney? The reader can draw their own conclusions.
The second point, there are problems, but are the problems such that Minnesota Hockey needs to step in with some decision?
Of most concern to the proponents of the split, is to create a more competitive environment at the bantam and peewee levels by eliminating “mismatches” between strong teams and weak teams thus avoiding a 15-0 game.
This approach will not avoid those types of games. The North Regional ends up with 5 eligible AA teams. None of the AA teams will be eliminated in the district playoffs. If the North Regional AA programs have an off year in talent (their peewees did not do well last year), then two of these teams will be in the state tourney. Should other teams in districts with more AA associations play for the other three spots to fill out the North Regional tourney?
The South AA Regional has allocated 3 seeds to D4, but D4 has no AA associations. The South AA Regional this year has 9 eligible associations in D5 and D9 . Normally, D4 would seed its three seeds to the two other districts in the South Regional, but D9 has 3 seeds and 3 eligible AA associations. D5 has 6 eligible AA teams and two seeds. Should D4 give all three seeds to D5, making 5 of the 6 D5 teams eligible for the South Bantam AA Regional? Two of these nine teams would then be playing in the state tourney.
The East Regional allocates 2 seeds to D8 (10 eligible AA associations) and 3 seeds each to D2 (7 AA eligible associations) and D6 (9 eligible AA associations). Should the districts in the East Regional be given a “back door” to play in either the South or North Regionals? The same thing could be applied to the West Regional Districts (D3 with 6 AA eligible AA associations and D10 with 10 eligible AA associations; D15 has only 3 eligible AA associations)? If no change is made, four of the East and West’s 45 eligible AA associations will make it to the state tourney.
With the current regional alignments, it is likely that one or more double digit loss will occur in the AA state tourney in March 2013. Note that the “back door” existed in high school play for many years and was usually filled by a Northern High School. The real question is will this split of current A levels into AA and A create more interest in hockey such that participation numbers are up in the 2013-2014 season?
The Edina association is a positive in this state. They have maintained high participation numbers despite have little population growth over the last 10 years. Smaller towns like Roseau and Hibbing; and larger cities like Duluth and Bloomington have struggled to keep their participation numbers up. In 2009, Edina had a median household income of $112,000; Bloomington had a median household income of $58,000. Bloomington and Edina border each other. State wide, the median household income was a little over $55,000.
The fear is that the decline in numbers is driven by a decline in median household income and that increased competition promised by the split will be a disincentive to the parents and kids who aren’t the stars but are the backbone of the sport at the youth level. They will stop participating.