Volume 8 Issue 19 | February 10, 2021
AHAI is excited for the return of sanctioned games after the Illinois Department of Public Health updated its sports safety guidance considering the state's improving COVID-19 metrics. Under IDPH's revised guidance, all of Illinois' 11 regions, are currently in Phase 4.
AHAI remains bound by USA Hockey to follow state and local health guidelines, and the health and safety of players and all participants remains the top priority. The revised IDPH sports safety guidelines may be found here. Ice hockey continues to be categorized as a high-risk sport.
"With positive changes occurring daily, AHAI requests vigilance in adhering to the IDPH and facilities safety guidelines to ensure continued play. We are both optimistic and excited about our teams and players resuming competitive games," said AHAI President Kevin Bolger.
The table below shows the activity that is permitted for high-risk sports in different mitigation tiers under the revised IDPH guidance:
Tier 1 Youth & Girls Central District Playoffs & USA Hockey National Championships
By Mike Mullally, AHAI Tier 1 Chairman - There will not be a state championship for any of the Tier 1 levels this year (2021). Those were cancelled by the AHAI Board on the 19th of January. However, there will be Districts and Nationals for Tier 1, as previously announced by the Central District and USA Hockey.

There are 7 Tier 1 slots for the district playoffs: Youth 14U, 15O, 16U and 18U; for Girls 14U, 16U and 19U. The 4 Tier 1 clubs will advise AHAI of one team per slot (7 teams in total) that will go to district playoffs. If there is NOT agreement on a slotted team, the entire age division will be cancelled and no team from Illinois will go to district playoffs for that age division. The 4 tier 1 clubs will have to notify the AHAI Tier 1 Committee Chair by March 1st at the latest. READ MORE>>
2021 Girls Central District Player Development Camp Tryout Registration is Now Open!
By Anita Lichterman, AHAI Girls Committee Chair - USA Hockey Central District Girls' Tryout for 2021 will be held at Cornerstone Community Center in De Pere, Wisconsin April 9-11, 2021. All USA Hockey registered female skaters that wish to try out for USA Hockey National Select Camps as well as the Central District Development Camp MUST attend this tryout to be evaluated. This is an OPEN camp; any female residing in the Central District is eligible to participate. Register through Monday, February 15 to secure a spot. Click here for complete details and registration.
2021 America's Showcase Cancelled Due to COVID-19
The Mid States Club Hockey Association (MSCHA) has announced the cancellation of the 2021 USA Hockey America's High School Showcase that was to be held April 15-19 in Maryland Heights, Missouri. 

The America's Showcase will return to St. Louis, Missouri in 2022. More details will be provided at a later date.
The AHAI 2021 Player Development Process Begins This Month
By Peter Humann, AHAI Player Development Chairman - All Tier I, Tier II, Prep and High School Varsity players within the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 birth years are eligible by invitation only for the 2021 Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI) Player Development / Identification Tryout Camp held in Bensenville, IL the weekend of April 9th through the 11th.

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 online 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>>
The Car Ride Home Can Be a Reliable Barometer for a Player's Enjoyment
By Greg Bates, Special to AHAI - Practice has wrapped up and mom or dad comes to pick up their kid. The hockey gear is packed into the van and two are set to drive home. What happens next can be critical to know if the kid is having fun at the rink or he or she isn't happy because of lack of playing time or other circumstances. 

"The car ride home is going to be very telling of that," Lake Forest Academy boys' hockey assistant coach Rob Klein said. "Is the kid quiet? Is the kid talkative? If they are talkative, is it positive? Is it negative? So, a lot of that is going to be very telling for the coach to hear. Are the coaches doing a good job or not? Are they creating a fun learning environment for that player?" READ MORE>>
AHAI Hockey Directors & Coaches Webinar Series
Coaches, were you unable to attend our webinars in January? We've got you covered! Click on any (or all) of the thumbnails below to watch full-length webinars on our YouTube channel.
The Pandemic Effect From An Official's Perspective
By Brad Baumruck, AHAI/IHOA Advanced Development Coordinator - As the pandemic continues, what are officials going through? As a veteran official of 22 seasons, I have been in contact with many fellow officials during the pause in play. I thought I would share my personal perspective.

Most people venture into an ice arena to watch a hockey game or even better be a player or coach in these games. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat is the night's dispositions. But as we all know there is a team of guardians of the game's integrity, the officials. The officials show up to every contest ready to skate with thoughts other than winning or losing. They show up to maintain the rules of the sport. These officials, men and women of all ages and backgrounds, just want to be a part of a game they love. The officials are participants in these sporting contests as well and enjoy being a part of our great sport. READ MORE>>
Remembering Mark Gore: 'A Mentor On and Off the Ice'
By Ross Forman - Mark Gore - a popular, ever-giving former local referee and coach, who officiated an Illinois High School Hockey state championship game in 2010 - passed away Friday, Jan. 29 after a lengthy battle against cancer. He was 59. 

Gore, who lived in Bartlett, officiated for about 15 years, and coached all levels from learn-to-skate through midgets and high school, particularly for the Schaumburg Kings organization. He skated the Girls High School Hockey State Championship game 11 years - and this past August was presented with the inaugural Mark Gore Service Award from IHOA, in honor of dedication and service to the local officiating organization. READ MORE>>
Winter Tradition Continues: Locals Enjoy ODR Experience
By Ross Forman - Manuel "Manny" Ballestero, an assistant coach for the Warren Township High School girls' hockey team, is in his third year building an outdoor rink (ODR) at his home in suburban Wadsworth, a true labor of love, countless gallons of water ... and many lessons learned. His first ODR, for instance, Ballestero eyeballed a level spot in his yard, but, well, his eyes were a bit out of focus. When he filled the rink, he only had ice on about half the rink. Also, he did not have a fence around the rink, so when the ice was melting in the spring, a deer walked through the water and punctured the liner in several places. READ MORE>>

A huge thank you to the Illinois Hockey Community for generously sharing their amazing backyard rinks with us! 

BMO Harris Bank Youth Hockey Team of the Year
Nominate your favorite youth hockey team and they could win a $1,500 BMO Harris Bank gift card for their team use and other great prizes! Criteria is based on volunteer activities in the nominee's community, demonstrated passion, dedication and spirit through commitment to community.
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 are due no later than March 15, 2021. Click here for more information about the scholarship and to download an application. If you have any questions regarding the scholarship, please direct them to Tom Dillon at tom.dillon@amwins.com.
Registration for 2021 NAHL Combines Now Open!
The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has the announced the dates and locations for the 2021 Combines, which are now open for registration. 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 goal is to provide the aspiring hockey player 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. NAHL Combines are carefully designed to provide an Education, Exposure, and Experience for prospects that strive to advance their hockey development at the junior hockey and college level. INFORMATION & REGISTRATION>>