Volume 7 Issue 19 | February 12, 2020
By Jack Weinberg, AHAI Director & AHAI High School Committee Chairman
This is a great time of year. Teams and fans are excited to put it all on the line in the 2020 Illinois State Hockey Championships. The energy is palpable, and the stakes are high. This is what everyone has been preparing for all season long! That excitement is what makes this time of year so fun. Each of us has a duty to keep it that way.... FUN!

The players do not need to feel any added pressure, the looser they are the better they play. Everyone needs to remember that the other team is not our enemy they are our opponent. Fans, cheer hard for your team. They are our children, our classmates and our friends. Hockey is a game for life. It is likely that you will compete against each other for years and when you get to the adult league you will find that those same opponents are now your teammates. READ MORE>>
Our Countdown to State Newsletter is coming to your email inbox on THIS Friday!
Tickets On Sale Now for the 2020 High School State Championships  at the United Center!
AHAI, along with the Chicago Blackhawks, will host the 2020 Illinois State High School Hockey Championships, presented by Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Chevy Dealers, at the United Center on Saturday, March 21 The event will feature a full evening of action with the I llinois Girls' State Championship (3:00 p.m.) , the Boys' Red Division State Championship (6:00 p.m.) and the Boys' Combined Division State Championship (8:00 p.m.) . The first 10,00 fans in attendance will receive a Bluetooth speaker, also presented by Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana Chevy Dealers. COMPLETE DETAILS>>
Dealing with Game Day Nerves During Playoffs
By Greg Bates, Special to AHAI - When the postseason rolls around, the stakes get higher.  One-and-done scenarios can put a lot of added pressure on youth hockey players. But longtime Illinois coach Brad Bialas said playoffs don't have to create more stress if coaches and parents can teach players how to handle the situation in a calm manner.

 "When we were in a big game or a national championship game, our message was, 'The ice is the same, the rink is the same, the puck is the same size, their team wants to win just as bad as you. There's no difference between this game and Game 17 of the season,'" said Bialas, who used to coach in the Chicago Mission girls' program. "'When you break it down, your shift is your shift, your role is your role. The skills you had yesterday probably didn't change a whole bunch.' We would always urge, 'Remember, this is a game and enjoy it.'"  READ MORE>>
Explaining USA Hockey Insurance: Part 2 - Participant Accident (Excess) Coverage
Did you know that by registering as a member of USA Hockey you are automatically enrolled in the USA Hockey insurance program? Your participation and registration with USAH afford you insurance coverage in 5 different areas: Excess Accident, Catastrophic, Liability, Directors & Officers Liability and Crime. In this 5-part series, Central District Risk Manager, Don Allord takes an in depth look at each of the areas of coverage. Part II of our series focuses on Participant Claim Filing Tips Under USA Hockey Excess Medica Plan.

PART II:  Participant Claim Filing Tips Under USA Hockey Excess Medical Plan
If you are a registered USA Hockey member and you are injured while participating in a USA Hockey sanctioned event, follow these procedures:
  • At the hospital or doctor's office always provide them with you individual, employer (or other) health plan as your primary plan.
  • The USAH plan requires that treatment following an injury must occur within 30 days from the injury date. READ MORE>>
Tim Gabel - Builders' Category
Tim grew up on the southwest side of Chicago in a family of sixteen children. He developed his love for the game of hockey listening to Lloyd Pettit announce the Blackhawk hockey games on TV. At an early age he played hockey in alleys and on frozen tennis courts with his brothers. Being the smallest of his brothers, he was always put in the net, which is where he developed his goaltending skills. It was then that he knew goaltender was the position for him. Though he enjoyed playing, Tim's true calling in the game of hockey was coaching. Tim coached his son and daughter's ice hockey teams in their early years, and that is when he became connected to special hockey in Illinois. READ MORE>>
Don Granato - Players' Category
The Granato name is synonymous with hockey not just in Illinois, but wherever the sport is played around the world. Don just happens to be the latest ambassador. Born and raised in Downers Grove, he's the third member of his family to be inducted in the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame. Younger sister Cammi, an Olympic gold medalist and Hockey Hall of Famer, was honored in 2005, while older brother Tony, an Olympic player, coach and NHL all-star, was inducted in 2006. READ MORE>>
Registration  is now open for its  2020 Level 5 Coaches Symposium , which will be held Aug. 20-23 in Duluth, Minnesota, at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.  Typically held every other year, the USA Hockey Level 5 Coaches Symposium is for aspiring coaches seeking to attain their Level 5 coaching certification, the highest offered by USA Hockey. In addition to general sessions, coaches also have the opportunity to explore innovative approaches to coaching through intensive breakout sessions dedicated to 12-and-under and 13-and-over age groups as well as the Gold Goalie Clinic. For more information and to register online, click HERE.
Officials' Evaluation Process
By Eric Cowsill, IHOA President - Did you know that every year every official must recertify in order to officiate? Well, they do. And this year is no different. This year every official is required to complete an online video session and successfully pass the imbedded exams; attend a seminar conducted by the Illinois Hockey Officials' Association; pass the USA Hockey online exam; and levels 2, 3 and 4, must pass the closed book exam administered during the seminar. Finally, all level 4 officials must take and pass a rigorous skating exam. And we do this every year. We do this every year because rules change; officials must get into the mindset to officiate; and expectations must be laid out to the officials as to the upcoming season. READ MORE>>
Illinois Native Shane Gustafson Officiates 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Switzerland
By Ross Forman - Shane Gustafson went on a 17-day overseas business trip in January - with his skates, whistle and black & white striped uniform.  Gustafson - who graduated from Crystal Lake South High School in 2014, a few months after officiating the combined division high school state championship game at the United Center - was the lone Illinois officiating representative at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games, held in Switzerland. READ MORE>>
Registration is Now Open for the Little Blackhawks Learn to Play Program!
The Chicago Blackhawks are excited to announce another year of the Little Blackhawks Learn to Play program! Learning to play hockey is more than just learning a game. More than skating, passing and stick-handling, hockey is about responsibility, respect and teamwork. The Little Blackhawks Learn to Play program offers participants, between 5-9 years of age, free head-to-toe equipment, age appropriate instruction and certified coaching, led by NHL Alumni. MORE INFORMATION & REGISTRATION>>
2020 America's High School Illinois Team Tryout Invitees Announced!
By Mike Mullally, AHAI Director & Showcase Team General Manager - During the past couple of months, coaches from Illinois High Schools have been rating players throughout Illinois. The players invited to tryout have been identified as one of the best players in Illinois High School Hockey. AHAI wishes to extend to them an invitation to 'tryout" for the team that will represent Illinois at the America's High School Showcase. There will be three (3) tryouts for everyone to determine the final America's High School Showcase Illinois team. Click HERE  to view rosters. Good luck to all players!
Attention Girls: Be a Part of the 2020 Girls' America's Showcase Team!
Attention all sophomore, junior or senior high school age girls! If you have not yet committed to a college/university, America's Showcase could be exactly what you need to help you reach the next chapter of your life.  If you're wanting to play hockey in college, please consider registering for the 2020 Illinois Girls' Showcase Team. Many NCAA DIII and ACHA coaches and scouts will be on hand in St. Louis looking for players to round out their teams. It's never too early to register. There are still tryout spots available. Please  click here to review the invitation and Showcase information. If interested, please disregard deadline dates for registration. If you have any questions, please contact Anita Lichterman, Illinois Girls' Showcase Team Manager at girls@ahai2.org or 847.414.5737.
Analyzing the 2020 Illinois State Hockey Championship Brackets
By Ross Forman - The brackets for the 2020 Illinois State Hockey Championships have been announced, so every team is optimistic, at least to a degree, that it will skate for the championship.  This is a time for hope, hysteria, dreams, destiny and more.  But only one team leaves our version of March Madness with a smile. In reality, it's six teams that are happy, as Illinois plays host to six high school state tournaments.

Let's start in the top-tiered Red Division, which some may say is the Green Division yet again.  The No. 1 seed went to New Trier Green, which has been the No. 1-ranked team in Illinois all season.  The Trevians are 51-4-1 with their lone loss to an Illinois high school team coming last Nov. 13, when Stevenson downed Green 4-3 in Buffalo Grove. READ MORE>>
Congratulations to the 2020 Central States Champions!
**All photos courtesy of Photos by Sully**
Highland Park Falcons
Squirt Major
Chicago Blues
Pee Wee Minor
Northwest Chargers
Pee Wee Major
Highland Park Falcons
Bantam Minor
Chicago Blues
Bantam Major
Affton Americans
Orland Park Vikings
Midget Minor
Highland Park Falcons
Midget Major
Congratulations 2020 NIHL Presidents Cup Recipients!
By Ruben Medina, NIHL Statistician - We love that the Northern Illinois Hockey League's Divisions are all so competitive. There are 22 playing divisions in the league and the Presidents Cup is the award for the Best Regular Season Record in each division. Ten of these twenty-two teams won this award on the last day of the season! You NIHL players and goalies really know how to give it everything you've got until the final buzzer sounds. Congratulations to all the NIHL 2019-2020 Presidents Cup winners.  VIEW WINNERS>>
Many Locations to Host Try Hockey Events in Illinois during Hockey Week Across America
USA Hockey will lead the nation in its yearly nationwide initiative Hockey Week Across America, February 16-23, 2020. The week-long event is now in its 13th year and includes a special theme for each day. As part of Try Hockey Day, many Illinois rinks and/or associations will host events to provide kids that have never played before a chance to try our sport for free. Click HERE to find the closest Try Hockey event near you. Help grow the game and spread the word!
2020 NAHL Combine Registration Ongoing
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 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 experience, education, and exposure for prospects that strive to advance their hockey development at the junior hockey and college level. INFORMATION & REGISTRATION>>
Looking for a Way to Promote Your Summer Hockey Camp?
AHAI will publish two (2) special edition hockey camp newsletters in 2020 - one in March and one in May. These newsletters will feature upcoming hockey camps throughout Illinois. Ad space will be available on a first come, first serve basis and subject to AHAI approval.

New this year: Our "Hockey Camps & Schools" tab on www.ahaienews.com.  For just $100, your  camp will receive its own page (subject to AHAI approval) which will be listed on the drop-down menu under the "Hockey Camps & Schools" tab. Camps are allowed 2 different flyers per year. Any additional flyer changes are $50 per flyer. Interested in more information? Contact AHAI Communications Manager, Gretchen Cockey at communications@ahai2.org .
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