Minnesota Hockey held a quarterly meeting last weekend at their favorite haunt - the St. Louis Park Marriott. Administering amateur hockey in the state with the greatest participation takes a lot of time and energy. But most of all, it takes a lot of committed volunteers. Last weekend a few items surfaced at their meeting that would be of interest to our YHH readers.
Since the 2012-13 season when Minnesota Hockey launched PeeWee AA and Bantam AA playoffs, getting the regional formula correct has been a challenge. In year one, the system was less than perfect, mostly due to the fact that the rule was adopted in June of 2012. Leadership at the time had no way to predict the future. This was brand new territory and in some ways it is still a piece of clay.
For three more seasons (2014 to 2016), a coaches ranking system was used. And, for the last three seasons a weighted system based on the number of teams per district has been used. Both systems had fans and critics. The ranking system was said to be too subjective and the weighted system had its issues with transparency.
At the District Director's meeting on Saturday morning, Minnesota Hockey Vice-President Scott Dornfeld made two proposed changes to the current system.
1. Three Regions. Eliminate eight teams from AA Regions, move District 5 to the North Region. This plan solves the problem of balance. Eleven teams in the North will create competition for a spot in Regions. Some years there are only eight AA teams in the North Region. Only 16 spots in the metro will give a much greater emphasis on district tournaments. All problems solved, right? Wrong. Removing eight teams from region play seems counter intuitive. Last year's state champion, Eden Prairie, potentially could have been left out of Regions. Region tournament weekend is one of the best weekends of the year, why shorten the season of 8 teams?
2A. Four Six-Team Regions. This plan would include 24 metro teams, much like the previous six years. District 5 would be placed back into the "metro." Version A is a six-team round robin five game event. Top two teams advance to state. Nothing wrong with this plan other than it is a lot of hockey and an added cost. It is one of the safest ways to get the best teams into the state tournament. The only caution is the tiebreakers for the second and third place teams...ugh.
2B. Four Team Regions. The other version proposed was double elimination six-team event with number one seeded teams given a first round bye. Another good method with far fewer costs than the round robin. Only pitfall is the seeding of number one seeds. A step that would get Minnesota Hockey back to "ranking" teams.
A straw poll was taken by Dornfeld and a third of the room favored each method. No plan was profoundly liked or disliked. The proposals were sent back to committee for review. Expect some revisions and a vote at the June board meeting. If no majority can be reached, the method for 2018-19 will be used in 2020.
State Champion Osseo Maple Grove finished second in the South Region in Burnsville in March
It appears that Girls Regions at 12A and 12B will expand from three to four regions in 2020.
Initially the District Director agenda was set to discuss and approve the expansion of 12B Regions from three Regions to four. Last year, there were 80+ 12B teams involved in Minnesota Hockey. Data supported an expansion of not just 12B to an additional region tournament, all in the room agreed that 12A had the numbers to support a fourth region next season.
Minnesota Hockey's Derek Ricke reported to the group that with a record number of girls playing at the U6, U8 and U10 levels - both 12A and 12B should have enough teams to move to the A/B model of four regions. The best way to describe this method is each district is allotted a pre-determined number of seeds - usually two or three - to regions and sent to a pre-determined region listed in the MN Hockey Handbook. If passed at June meeting, this will open the doors for 16 more team in 2020 (eight in 12A and eight in 12B).
Moorhead (top) and Sibley (below) were recognized Saturday for their hard work growing the game last year in their community.
Ted Brill Award - presented annually to an individual who has at least ten years of service to any of the various player development programs (STP, HEP, High Performance/Selects, High School All-Star Series, etc.).
Wes Bolin - Woodbury Boys High School
Don Clark Award - presented by Minnesota Hockey to an individual who over a period of many years has been dedicated to the grassroots growth and development of youth hockey in Minnesota.
Rick Wesp - Anoka
Dick's Sporting Goods Grow The Game Award - established to recognize associations who have gone above and beyond to build the game within their communities and give anyone with an interest in hockey an opportunity to play - with proven results. Each year, two associations are recognized for their efforts.
Moorhead and Sibley