Volume 5 Issue 18 |  January 17, 2018
"My Hands Were Shaking": The Impact Abuse of Officials Has on Youth Referees
By Lilly Bianchi, Special to AHAI ~ Picture this: a bitter Saturday morning draws families out of bed to get their little ones to the rink. They tie skates, sip coffee and chat as the kids take to the ice for a game. It happens every weekend in rinks all across does the abuse of the officials toward those that work those games.

AHAI Referee-In-Chief Michael Barrett estimates about 175-200 reports are received annually regarding abuse of officials. There is no doubt such instances take a toll on officials, but what about when the official is only a teenager? As a 17 year old referee, I can tell you it happens all too often. Very rarely does one work a game where not a single negative comment is made. Perhaps the worst experience I had involved the anger of a coach. My hands were shaking, my voice trembling. The coach knew me, he even coached me, but that didn't seem to stop him. He was so angry and just kept yelling and yelling. I left the rink quickly, with my head down that day.

This year a little over one-third of Illinois officials are under the age of 18. They are your children, your teammates, your friends. These officials are the ones working the games of the youngest hockey players, mentoring and nurturing their love for the game. And, just like the players they are officiating, they are not perfect. Imagine working a job where coaches twenty or thirty years your senior make abusive verbal comments on a regular basis. FULL ARTICLE>>

The Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Blackhawks Foundation are proud to present an award named after U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Eddie Olczyk to support young hockey players and teams in Illinois who may not have the means to play at a competitive level. Since its inception in 2011, the Eddie Olczyk Award has distributed over $255,000 in grants, raised through Blackhawks Youth Hockey Summer Camps, to 114 individuals and seven organizations. As the head instructor at the Blackhawks Hockey Camps, Olczyk is dedicated to the development and growth of youth hockey in Illinois.
The Eddie Olczyk Award assists:  Individuals/families in need of assistance for participation in an Illinois sanctioned team or organization, s anctioned teams in need of assistance for tournament expenses, and  Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI) organizations in need of assistance to run programs which increase the participation in and quality of youth  hockey. 

Applications are now open. |  Letters of Inquiry are due on February 15, 2018.
The AHAI 2018 Player Development Process Begins This Month 
By Peter Humann, AHAI Player Development Chair ~ All Tier I, Tier II, Prep and High School Varsity players within the 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 birth years are eligible by invitation only for the 2018 Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI) Player Development / Identification Tryout Camp held in Bensenville, IL the weekend of March 23rd through the 25th.  The process will start this month with an online ranking of each of the age appropriate players. AHAI has developed a web tool that allows ALL  the Illinois Head Coaches, from each of the above divisions, to go on line to rank ONLY those players they saw play during this season. The due date for these rankings will be early February. These Head Coaches will be ranking the "best" players from this State, NOT JUST THEIR OWN PLAYERS , within a specific birth year, by position, starting with number 1 as the best and so on down the line. READ MORE>>
2018 Coach of the Year Nominations Are Now Open!
AHAI recognizes that Illinois Hockey is comprised not only of incredible players, but also of great Boys'/Girls' High School and Youth/Girls' Hockey Coaches that guide our teams both on and off the ice. Candidates for AHAI's Boys'/Girls' High School and Youth/Girls' Hockey Coach of the Year Awards should embody good sportsmanship and respect toward teams, parents and officials while providing a positive High School or Youth/Girls' Hockey experience. Candidates should also teach positive life skills while demonstrating dedication, passion and commitment to community. Deadline to nominate is Friday, February 16, 2018. NOMINATE COACH NOW>>
2018 NAHL Combine Registration
The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced the dates and locations for the 2018 Combines. The NAHL Combines are driven by the North American Hockey League and operated by the NAHL's professional staff in order to serve the most valuable asset to hockey... the players.  The intent and goal is to provide the aspiring hockey player the ability to take part in a one-of-a-kind experience that is designed to maximize exposure at grand-scale events that provide a true look and feel of the genuine NAHL Experience. MORE INFORMATION>>
Men's & Women's 2018 AHAI Adult State Championship Tournament
By Robert Fiorio ~ The Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois Adult Committee is proud to present the 2018 Adult Illinois State Championship Tournament hosted by the AHAI Adult Committee and The Edge Ice Arena. The Adult State Tournament will take place April 25 - April 29, 2018 with all Championship Games taking place on Sunday, April 29, 2018 at The Edge.  MORE INFORMATION & REGISTRATION>>
Meet Jerry Ballard ~ Class of 2017 Builders' Category
Jerry Ballard and his wife, Katy, have been married for 36 years. They have four children - Ryan (30), Bradley (28), Kyle (22) and Kristine (20). Ryan is married to Jillian and they have the next generation Ballard hockey player, Dylan James (1). All of Jerry and Katy's sons played through midget level and Jerry "thanks the Lord" that their daughter decided to play volleyball.  Hockey was always Jerry's favorite sport growing up, and thus he says it is "not surprising this [hockey] has been an entire family function." FULL BIO>>
29th Annual AHAI All-State Games Announced
For the past 28 years, AHAI has been conducting a High School All-State game for the boys and girls varsity divisions statewide. This year will mark the 29th year of this very special event. The  2018 Boys High School All-State game  and the  2018 Girls High School All-State game  will be played on Monday, February 12, 2018 at the Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville, Illinois. The Girls' game will start at 6:40 p.m. and the Boys' game will begin at 8:35 p.m. The 3rd Annual Terry J. Stasica MVP Award will also be given to one player from the Boys' game and one player from the Girls' game. Each MVP will receive a  Terry J. Stasica  Memorial trophy,  Howies Hockey Tape  prize package and a 10-week off-ice training package from  Tier 1 Athletic Performance . READ MORE>>
Watch Out for the Warriors - Optimism Running High at Deerfield 
By Ross Forman ~ There's plenty of optimism at Deerfield, where their overall numbers are up, team chemistry is the best Coach John Sclafini has ever seen, and Jack Gerber is only a freshman.  Let's start with Gerber. He leads the team with 30 goals, including 7 multi-goal games. Gerber also has 9 assists and is chasing senior Christian DiBenedetto for the team lead in points; DiBenedetto has 16 goals, 26 assists for 42 points - 3 more than Gerber.  Gerber is, "getting better every game,' Sclafini said. READ MORE>>
Latest News from the Metro Girls Hockey League 
By Pam Flores ~ The Metro Girls teams would like to wish Team USA the best of luck at the 2018 Pyeong Chang Winter Olympic Games next month! A special shout out to Hilary Knight who played with Falcons and Kendall Coyne who played with the Mission in earlier years! Go Team USA! Congratulations are also in order to the U.S. Under-18 Women's National Team for capturing the gold medal at the IIHF Under-18 Women's World Championships in Dmitrov, Russia. Two local players - Anne Bloomer (CYA U19 and former Loyola Academy High School player) and Abbey Murphy (Mission U19) - played a big role in sealing the victory. Congrats Anne and Abbey! Click HERE to read about the latest college commitment and Metro League Club's special events. 
Chicago Blackhawk Alumni Association Scholarship 
The Chicago Blackhawk Alumni Association (CBAA) distributes college scholarships annually to the three most deserving high school hockey players. Awards are determined from a candidate's level of community service, volunteerism, good citizenship, academic performance as well as the hockey talent of the individual. Recipients will receive an annual $7,500.00 scholarship over four years for a total of $30,000.  Fully completed applications including letter of recommendations, and scholar essays are due no later than February 1st of each year. MORE INFORMATION & APPLICATION>>
Randy Apter enjoys 'more time on the ice' this season skating for Huskies U16, Sandburg 
By Ross Forman ~ Randy Apter is leading Sandburg, with 22 goals, 12 assists in 21 games. He has 34 points, followed by Joey Gigliotti (26 points in 26 games) as the Eagles are 9-20-2 overall and finished 2017 with 3 consecutive losses.  Apter also has been the main offensive star for the Huskies Midget Minor (CS) U16 team, which entered 2018 with a 21-16-1 overall record and wins in 3 of their final 4 games last year. READ MORE>>
Chicago Mission Turn the Rink Pink for Cancer Awareness
By Greg Bates, Special to AHAI ~ Nicole LaMantia has played in four Pink In The Rink cancer awareness fundraisers. Her fifth will be the most impactful for the teenager.  As the captain of the Chicago Mission Under-19 girls hockey team, LaMantia is the chairperson for the 10th annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, with all money going directly to help fight the disease. LaMantia is striving to make this year's event the best yet. READ MORE>>
Blackhawks Summer Camps
The Chicago Blackhawks youth hockey camps are summer programs for youth hockey players using top-notch coaches and former Blackhawks players. The camps provide both on- and off-ice instruction for hockey players of all skill levels. 2018 camps dates have been released!  MORE INFORMATION>>
Blackhawks Elite Hockey Academy
Blackhawks Elite Hockey Academy is designed to provide opportunities for players who have a strong desire to reach a higher level of competition and skill development. All camps will be held at MB Ice Arena.  MORE INFORMATION>>
Eddie Olczyk Helmet Decals
For all you young hockey players out there! The Chicago Blackhawks have produced  helmet decals for your favorite youth hockey ambassador and broadcaster, Eddie Olczyk as he continues his fight against cancer. The decal features a microphone along with "Edzo's" number.  As the head instructor of the Blackhawks Hockey Camps, Eddie is dedicated to the development and growth of youth hockey in Illinois. 100% of the proceeds will benefit the  Eddie Olczyk Award  (EOA) which supports young hockey players and teams in Illinois who do not have the financial resources to play at a competitive level. Click HERE i f you would like to purchase your commemorative helmet decals.
Tampa Bay or Bust!
Congratulations to Jake and Dylan, Champions (player and goalie) of the Beko Home Appliances Mini 1-on-1 Challenge. They will accompany the Chicago Blackhawks Fan Development staff to the 2018 NHL® All-Star Game in Tampa Bay from January 27-28, 2018  to compete against other Squirt-age winners from around the NHL. Good luck, boys!

2018 NIHL Blackhawks Tournament - One Month Away
By Robert Apter, NIHL President ~ The first annual NIHL Blackhawks tournament is nearly here! This tournament features unbelievably talented young players at the top of their game. You are in for a treat if you catch a game. The tournament will be like no other and will become the birthplace of hockey memories.  As you are taking in the competition, please take a moment to appreciate our sponsors, the Chicago Blackhawks. READ MORE>>
Be a Rockford IceHogs "Dream Team"! 
Looking for your team to have an experience they will never forget? Want your team to stand on the blue line with future Chicago Blackhawks players? Sign up to be the Rockford IceHogs "Dream Team!"  As part of the "Dream Team" experience, players will have the opportunity to: b e recognized individually at an IceHogs game, s kate out onto the BMO Harris Bank Center's ice with the Rockford IceHogs players during the National Anthem, and s it on the IceHogs bench during warm-ups!  Contact McKenna at  815-847-6386  or  to sign up your team today!
  • Chicago Mission Girls Pink in the Rink (Jan. 20) FLYER>>
  • Hockey Is For Everyone Registration (Feb. 5) FLYER>>
  • R33M 2018 Winter Tough Tournament (Feb. 10-11) FLYER>>
  • Skate with the Greats (Feb. 18) MORE INFO>>
Visit our "Events Tab" on for a complete listing. Have an event you would like to promote? Contact AHAI Communications Manager, Gretchen Cockey at .