Philadelphia was a confluence of player development last week with USA Hockey’s All-American Prospects Game, Flyers training camp and an impressive high-performance coaching symposium undercard at the Wells Fargo Center.
More than 300 coaches from USA Hockey’s Atlantic District attended the symposium, which provided Level 1, 2 or 3 Coaching Education Program certification. Symposium presenters included Flyers assistant coaches Ian Laperriere and Joe Mullen, along with Penn State men’s hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky, and Atlantic District Coach-in-Chief Mike Lichtenberger.
“It was great to see so many coaches and to see how invested they are in learning,” said USA Hockey’s Joe Bonnett, who along with Roger Grillo and Phil Osaer, added presentations and conversations about USA Hockey’s American Development Model. Bonnett also helped lead a high-performance practice for Atlantic District 16- and 17-year-olds on the Flyers’ home ice, narrated for the observing coaches by Grillo.
“The ADM practice plan we used was a practice plan built for the National Team Development Program, so it was created specifically for high-performance training at that specific age level,” said Bonnett. “It built off Roger’s presentation on age-specific training concepts for the top end of the ADM age group, so that’s what the coaches were able to see in use with the players.”
The Wednesday practice also included goalie-specific training led by Osaer, USA Hockey’s ADM manager for goaltending, who continued his nationwide nurturing of netminders.
“They have a great group of young hockey players in that area,” said Osaer. “The time spent on the ice working with some of the Atlantic District’s best goaltenders was fun, and another highlight for me was the commentary from Guy, Joe and Ian – elite coaches – talking about the importance of developing good habits and skills in youth players, rather than systems, and also keeping game results in the proper perspective.”
After a night of rest, the invitee players reconvened at the Wells Fargo Center for an Atlantic District Futures Game prior to the All-American Prospects Game.
“That’s the first time Atlantic District has done a Futures Game, maybe in forever, and it was well-played,” said Lichtenberger. “It showed everybody what those players could do.
Lichtenberger was delighted with the post-symposium feedback, citing several “best-ever clinic” responses and plaudits to the presenters and the on-ice practice portion of the event.
“It was fantastic,” said Lichtenberger, who saluted Atlantic District Director of Player Development John Riley, a Flyers scout, for helping make it all possible.
“We touched almost every segment of the youth hockey coaching community and it went very well. Looking to the future, we’d like to add a girls and women’s hockey component to it as well.”
Boudreau Busy in Minnesota
Philadelphia’s high-performance symposium was one of two cooperative CEP events sponsored by USA Hockey affiliates and their local NHL teams last week. The other was in Minnesota, where the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association (MHCA), Minnesota Hockey, USA Hockey, State of Hockey, SportsEngine and the Wild led a two-day coaching summit that included a star-studded presentation group led by Minnesota’s new head coach Bruce Boudreau, fresh from his opening days of Wild training camp.
New among that leadership group is State of Hockey, a venture backed by the Minnesota Wild, which aims to bottle the passion Minnesotans have for the sport of hockey to celebrate and promote the game at all levels. Jamie Spencer, who heads State of Hockey, partnered with the aforementioned groups to encourage coaches to convene in Saint Paul.
“We had over 300 coaches here from all levels receiving on-ice instruction, tips from the pros and the opportunity to learn from one another,” said Spencer. “We hope this event continues to grow and we will proudly continue to serve as the catalyst for opportunities to develop and grow the game.”
Several top college coaches were also on the Minnesota presentation docket, including Brad Berry (North Dakota), Chris Brown (Augsburg), Joe Doyle (Air Force), Tony Granato (Wisconsin), Mike Hastings (Minnesota State), Don Lucia (Minnesota), Bob Motzko (St. Cloud State), Scott Sandelin (Minnesota Duluth) and Tom Serratore (Bemidji State). USA Hockey’s trio of Grillo, Osaer and Guy “Goose” Gosselin also attended, providing age-appropriate player development insights. USA Hockey National Coach-in-Chief Mike MacMillan, who serves as executive director of the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association, led the proceedings with MHCA president and USA Hockey CEP instructor Mark Manney.
The State of Hockey High-Performance Summit (previously known as the MHCA High School Fall Clinic) is in its 17th season of working with the Wild, and it offered a new twist for 2016. Attendee coaches could earn their Level 1, 2, 3 or 4 USA Hockey CEP certification, expanding the event’s scope to include youth hockey coaches in addition to its traditional roots of high school coaches, who use the event to gain USA Hockey certification and interaction with player development colleagues from outside the Minnesota State High School League.
"We have been fortunate in Minnesota to have a long-term working relationship with the Minnesota Wild, who have continued to support hockey in our state from 8U through the professional ranks,” said MacMillan. “They’ve gone above and beyond to support youth, high school and college hockey in our state and treat our relationships as a hockey family. It’s exciting to see the NHL teams around our country team up with USA Hockey to support coach education, which is the backbone of player development. The events in Minnesota and Philadelphia are great examples of the power of working together to support our coaches.”
From the Wild perspective, that grassroots involvement is integral in growing and improving the game.
“It’s our mission to create a greater State of Hockey,” said Minnesota Wild Chief Operating Officer Matt Majka. “It’s critically important to us and to the health of our sport that we continue to foster opportunities for growth in all areas of the game. It was a privilege to offer our support and partnership to USA Hockey and Minnesota Hockey for this important grassroots coaching education here in Saint Paul.”
St. Cloud State men's hockey head coach Bob Motzko talks during a college hockey coaches panel at last week's State of Hockey High-Performance Summit.
It’s an off-season that continues to be full of changes, reactionary and planned, as all of us in the USA Hockey Officiating Department forge forward in the new normal. Our efforts are consistently focused on ensuring safety, fun and development for players, coaches and officials.
One issue that continues to arise is the abuse of officials and the effects it has on retention. To counter and help improve the environment, USA Hockey’s rules sub-committee has been focused and committed to solutions.
This sub-committee was established to define and recommend programs to confront this problem. As a result of this, a first step was taken at the recent Annual Congress to amend the Zero Tolerance Policy. Several proposals were made and adopted by the Board of Directors to constructively confront this problem.
These changes strongly recommend things like game officials introducing themselves to the coach during warm-ups in order to start the communication process and set some guidelines for in-game communication.
The parents/spectators section was amended to clearly state the behavioral expectations of this group. Another strong recommendation added to this section was to establish a parent/spectator monitor by each local youth hockey team for all games. Ideally, this monitor will address and de-escalate parent/spectator behavior before it impacts the game and the officials have to stop play.
Also added, a reminder to administrators that they are responsible for taking any appropriate disciplinary action towards parents/spectators that are removed from a game as a result of a violation of the Zero Tolerance Policy.
Navigating New Norms
As we all still grapple with the effects of the pandemic, the Officiating Program has been working to develop effective ways to fulfill our educational responsibilities when it comes to the annual registration process. To that end, the only process that provides educational value and a safe environment is with virtual seminars. A format and curriculum was developed and approved by the District RIC’s. This was distributed to all of the District RIC’s for implementation as they see fit. Due to the many different and ever-changing restrictions around the country, if the situation arises where in-person seminars can be held then the District RIC can also schedule them as needed. The Virtual Seminar Program is the best solution for this season. As situations change, the Officials Section will revisit this program for all future seasons.
Every Tuesday, the Officiating Education Program will present an hour-long webinar on various topics of interest and importance to not only USA Hockey’s officials but the entire membership. These panel discussions will cover topics such as abuse and zero tolerance, communication, player safety, as well as items such as game management and positioning within the three recognized USA Hockey Officiating systems. Panelists will include some of the top officials in the country and other experts from the hockey world whose goal will be to inform, entertain and encourage the USA Hockey community to learn more about officiating.
Getting officials from their first year to their third season is a key focus for the Officiating Education Program. Helping officials understand the basics of the craft and giving them a supportive resource is what the Mentor Project is all about. USA Hockey is helping local Officials Associations put together the framework where a mentor gets matched with a new official and works with them not only in their first month or second, but is a constant resource for the new official throughout their first couple of seasons. Learning about how to read the rule book, navigate the challenges of getting assignments and become a proficient official are all goals of the mentor project.
Again, we hope everyone is safe and sane as we prepare for a different landscape of hockey – but we are excited to welcome it, and you, back to the game.
See you at the rink!
Tag(s): ADM Features