We continue to regularly monitor concerns associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) and wanted to take a moment to provide an update as it relates to USA Hockey activities, including upcoming District and National tournaments at all levels.
Our top priority, as you know, is the safety of everyone involved with USA Hockey. We’re extremely fortunate to have Dr. Michael Stuart from the Mayo Clinic as our chief medical and safety officer, someone who brings vast experience, connectivity across the country and world, and an even hand in helping guide our organization on safety-related issues.
Practice frequent and meticulous hand-washing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and/or sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow
Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
Quarantine anyone who is sick (players, coaches, parents, roommates)
Ensure safe food sources; thoroughly cook meat and eggs
Handshake lines after games should include fist bumps with gloves on
Use individual water bottles; do not share them
Towels should not be shared in any way
While the coronavirus is without question a significant concern, as of today, all activities within USA Hockey will go on as planned. It is important to note, however, that the situation is fluid and we will provide updates as warranted.
It is worth noting that as of today, there are no directives from the CDC to avoid domestic travel, limit large groups or cancel sporting events.
Thank you for your diligence in following the guidelines above and continuing to stay engaged with this important topic.
If you purchased a Promasque product with a HECC label affixed to it, please contact our legal counsel, Ryan W. Miosek at
or call (607) 282-4447.
STATEMENT FROM PROMASQUE REGARDING CERTIFICATION – FEBRUARY 2020
Dear Pro-Masque Customer:
February 20, 2020
As many of you are aware, Pro-Masque has manufactured top quality goalie masks in our family for over fifty-five (SS) years and the quality and safety of the Pro-Masque products have always been our top priority. During this time, I am very proud that our products have been safely utilized in competition from youth hockey to National Hockey League All-Star participants.
While the significant majority of our products are not manufactured for use in youth or USA Ice Hockey sanctioned competition, there have been some of our products that were. In order to properly utilize our products for these competitions, it is necessary for those products to be Hockey Equipment Certification Council ("HECC") certified. While Pro-Masque products have been previously certified for such use, Pro-Masque products are not currently certified by HECC for youth or USA Ice Hockey competition.
As a customer of Pro-Masque who may have purchased our product for use in youth or USA Ice Hockey competition, I wanted to personally advise you of these circumstances and ensure that you were aware that the Pro-Masque product purchased is not currently HECC certified for the same. Further, any HECC label that may have been affixed to this product should be removed. My best wishes for continued safety and success, on and off the ice, and I apologize for any confusion or inconvenience.
We are looking for a Communication and Marketing Director to promote and grow our league.
Communications & Marketing Director: This position’s primary role is to market our hockey league to our communities and define options, communication strategies and target local advertisement opportunities. This person would utilize local businesses, local newspapers and the league’s website for communication and advertisement options.
If you interested apply online or contact Tim McMahon (email@example.com)
DECLARATION OF PLAYER SAFETY, FAIR PLAY AND RESPECT
USA Hockey is committed to creating a safe and fair environment for all participants. Respect for the game, opponents, coaches, and officials is a critical part of that environment and it covers several different aspects of sportsmanship and fair play. This Declaration of Safety, Fair Play and Respect will guide a change in culture as to what is considered to be acceptable/unacceptable body checking and competitive contact at all levels of play.
The Declaration clarifies and updates existing rules/definitions to emphasize the key points to more clearly outline what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Below is a video that shows examples of actions deemed "acceptable" and "unacceptable" to help illustrate expected behavior.
What is the Declaration of Safety, Fair Play and Respect?
When the USA Hockey Board of Directors ratified the Declaration of Safety, Fair Play and Respect in June of 2019 its intent was to create a culture that eliminates: 1) hits to the head, 2) hits from behind and 3) late hits.
The onus on modifying the culture lies with everyone in the game, from players, coaches and officials to media, parents, fans and administrators.
While the focus of the Declaration is largely around changing the culture and mindset involved with body checking, there is also language that deals with unsportsmanlike conduct centered around banging on the boards to celebrate a body check. Below this video of Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey, commenting on the Declaration, there is a document that clarifies the intent around what has been a long-standing part of the USA Hockey rulebook.
Also, in regard to body checking, the video below shares examples of acceptable and unacceptable body checking to help educate all involved in the sport as to the intent of the Declaration, which is focused on player safety and moving our sport forward.
It should be noted that USA Hockey supports legal body contact and body checking. The culture shift is an on-going effort to eliminate 1) hits from behind, 2) late hits and 3) hits to the head by more clearly defining body checking .
It is recognized that this is an effort that will take time and focus that in the end will make the game better for all involved.
Kevin Margarucci, USA Hockey’s manager of player safety, answered questions about the changes, how they’ll be implemented, and how they’ll enhance the youth hockey experience.
Q: What's new with the Concussion Management Program?
A: Beginning with the 2019-20 season, any athlete held out for concussion evaluation or who has been diagnosed with a concussion must provide a written Return to Play form from a qualified medical provider allowing them to return to any training, practice or game activity with no restrictions. The parent must sign the form and the coach must also sign the form acknowledging that they received it.
Q: What do parents, coaches, managers and volunteers need to know about the Return to Play form?
A: The form will be available online in April for the new registration season, and it will be required starting with the 2019-20 playing season. The form can be printed and filled out, and then must be signed by a qualified medical provider. The parent and coach must then sign the form. It should be kept with the team coach or manager. We are working on a system where the forms can be filed with the district player safety coordinator and we can begin an injury database for concussion incidents. The data will be de-identified for privacy and HIPPA compliance. I should note that beginning with the 2019-20 season, a new volunteer position called Player Safety Coordinator will be implemented in each district (see more information here).
Q: Who counts as a qualified medical provider that can sign off on Return to Play?
A: That is defined differently in each state statute as it pertains to concussions. This is an area where the district player safety coordinators will work to clearly identify those health care professionals in each state who can legally clear a player to return after a concussion.
Q: Has USA Hockey been trending in the right direction with its emphasis on concussion prevention, management and return-to-play protocol? How will this be another step forward?
A: Our concussion management program has always been updated based on the latest research and recommendations. It also aligns with the 2017 Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport from the 5th International Conference on Concussion in Sport in Berlin. Many state statutes pertaining to concussions require written return to play. Some of our districts and affiliates already require written clearance for return to play. This latest update aligns all of USA Hockey with this written return to play requirement and provides a standard form for use by all.
Q: Is the culture surrounding concussions making progress in youth hockey?
A: I believe so. The awareness and recognition of concussions has grown by parents, coaches and players. The mantra, ‘When in doubt, sit them out’ is a guiding principle that has taken hold in our sport and something we will continue to reinforce. And a relatively new initiative through the Concussion Legacy Foundation that we’ve supported is called Team Up, Speak Up. It’s focus is to let players know it is OK to, and that they should, speak up for a teammate who may have a concussion and report to a coach, parent, doctor or athletic trainer. It’s great to see the progress we’ve made, and together we will continue to affect positive change related to the overall safety of our game.
Every year when we get the first large snow storm there are questions around the GSL Inclement Weather Policy. You will see the policy below.
All cancelation of games including inclement weather shall be at the direction of the League Scheduler. If a team chooses not to attend a game due to inclement weather, the team’s Association shall have three (3) days to appeal to the Scheduler or Executive Board. This would allow time for the Scheduler to determine whether other teams traveled to or from that area on the same day.
It is very rare for games to be cancelled. If the rink is open then we play. Rinks usually only close when the Govenor closes the highways. In the last 10 years games have been cancelled once. Don't call the rink they will only tell you they are open. In the event we did have to cancel and you are signed up for notifications we would send notification through our website to your email and phone via text.
Obviously safety is the most important issue. If you feel that the weather is not safe to travel then you should choose not to attend your game. If you do decide not to attend a game you should always notify the League Scheduler that you will not be attending the game.
Teams should note that if games are not canceled and they don't attend they may be subject to the forfeiture. Additionally, games may not be rescheduled depending on availability and other factors.
New This Season: Intermediate Nets For All Mite Games
Mass Hockey and the GSL have partnered to subsidize the procurement of intermediate nets for all 8U games in 2018-2019 season.
“Intermediate nets have shown to greatly increase confidence in young goalies by being able to give up less goals in practices and games. Goalies become more aware of the net around them and become more confident in their positioning. Intermediate nets will help foster more young goalies, increase their confidence, grow the number of athletes playing the position and aid in the development of shooters.”
- Brian Eklund, Massachusetts Hockey Goaltending Coordinator, Assistant Coach Boston University
Women and men used to gaze up at the stars, awed at the sight and size of the universe, much like Detroit Red Wings fitness trainers used to be in awe at the sight and size of Brett Hull's butt during his final Motor City days.
My understanding of the sky's map is limited to the Big Dipper (good nickname for Buffalo's Tyler Myers, by the way) and the constellation Orion. Orion is located on the celestial equator and can been seen across the world, much like Pat Quinn's head. Its name, Orion, refers to a hunter in Greek mythology. Since my late teenage years, whether I am in Mingo Junction, Ohio, or Vancouver, British Columbia, I always look up and locate Orion. It's my satellite to home and youth.
I first became aware of Orion from the now bankrupt movie production company Orion Pictures Corporation, which made movies from 1978-1998. I remember the company's animated intro prior to the start of a movie: stars from the constellation would twirl into the letter "O" before the entire word "Orion" was spelled out.
It seemed as if 46 percent of movies produced in the late '70s and early '80s, my HBO sweet spot years, were produced by Orion. I am sure this number is probably much lower. "Back to School," "10," "Hoosiers," "Platoon," "No Way Out" and others all began with the animated Orion logo. I would like to publicly thank the now defunct movie company and HBO for my astronomy acumen and the indelible image of Bo Derek jogging on the beach with wet, braided hair. ("Before the Internet, there was HBO." Now there is a slogan to believe in.)
Today, kids, teenagers, adults and Sean Avery don't so much stare up to the trees, clouds, airplanes, stars and 6-foot-9 NHL linesman Mike Cvik as much as they used to; now, most stare down at their cell phones and personal digital assistants (Jim Balsillie's PDA BlackBerry, yo). As a result of all this "looking down," we miss so much up in the heavens. We even look down at these things during dinner, hockey games and Heisman Trophy presentations. People even look down at their PDAs while they drive. Who needs a moon roof on a clear summer night when I can play Tetris on I-95 while I soar through the E-ZPASS lane?
This is my gigantic preamble to why you should one day sign up your young son or daughter to play youth hockey at a local rink near you. If nothing else, it gets them away from electronics and teaches them a small slice of humanity that they can take forward through life, a life with more heart and less battery power. The rink's cold robs electronics of their battery power and signal reception, anyway.
So, if you are a first-time hockey parent, or dream of one day spending more than $10,000 and sacrificing weekends for a decade of glamorous youth or "minor" hockey, here are 13 important things you need to know about the youth hockey universe -- and hockey in general -- to help speed up the assimilation process in joining the "Congregation of Independent Insane in the Membrane Hockey Community Union" or COIIITMHCU. If you move those letters around you eventually get Chicoutimi. A miracle from the star-filled heavens above. (I'm sure my fellow COIIITMHCU members will offer even more, and we can post next week.)
1. Under no circumstances will hockey practice ever be cancelled. Ever. Even on days when school is cancelled, practice is still on. A game may be cancelled due to inclement weather because of travel concerns for the visiting team, but it would have to rain razor blades and bocce balls to cancel hockey practice at your local rink. It's good karma to respect the game.
2. Hockey is an emotional game and your child has the attention span of a chipmunk on NyQuil. The hockey coach will yell a bit during practice; he might even yell at your precious little Sparky. As long as there is teaching involved and not humiliation, it will be good for your child to be taught the right way, with emphasis.
3. Hockey is a very, very, very, very difficult game to play. You are probably terrible at it. It takes high skill and lots of courage, so lay off your kid. Don't berate them. Be patient and encourage them to play. Some kids need more time to learn how to ride the bike, but, in the end, everyone rides a bike about the same way.
Your kids are probably anywhere from age 4-8 when they first take up hockey. They will not get a call from Boston University coach Jack Parker or receive Christmas cards from the Colorado Avalanche's director of scouting. Don't berate them. Demand punctuality and unselfishness for practice and games. That's it. Passion is in someone, or it isn't. One can't implant passion in their child. My primary motive in letting my kids play hockey is exercise, physical fitness and the development of lower-body and core strength that will one day land them on a VH1 reality show that will pay off their student loans or my second mortgage.
4. Actually, I do demand two things from my 10-year-old Squirt, Jackson. Prior to every practice or game, as he turns down AC/DC's "Big Jack," gets out of the car and makes his way to the trunk to haul his hockey bag inside a cold, Connecticut rink, I say, "Jack, be the hardest, most creative and grittiest worker ... and be the one having the most fun." That might be four things, but you know what I mean.
5. Your kids should be dressing themselves and tying their own skates by their second year of Squirt. Jack is 67 pounds with 0 percent body fat and arms of linguini, and he can put on, take off and tie his own skates. If he can, anyone can. I don't go in the locker room anymore. Thank goodness; it stinks in there.
6. Do not fret over penalties not called during games and don't waste long-term heart power screaming at the referees. My observational research reveals the power-play percentage for every Mite hockey game ever played is .0000089 percent; for Squirts, .071 percent. I prefer referees to call zero penalties.
7. Yell like crazy during the game. Say whatever you want. Scream every kind of inane instruction you want to your kids. They can't hear you. In the car ride home, ask them if they had fun and gently promote creativity and competiveness, but only after you take them to Denny's for a Junior Grand Slam breakfast or 7-Eleven for a Slurpee. Having a warm breakfast after an early morning weekend game will become one of your most syrupy sweet memories.
8. Whenever possible, trade in your kids' ice skates and buy used skates, especially during those growing years and even if you can afford to buy new skates every six months. Your kids don't need $180 skates and a $100 stick no matter what your tax bracket is. They will not make them better players.
9. Missing practice (like we stated above) or games is akin to an Irish Catholic missing Mass in 1942. We take attendance at hockey games very seriously. Last week, the Islanders' Brendan Witt was hit by an SUV in Philadelphia. Witt got up off the pavement and walked to Starbucks for a coffee, and then later played against the Flyers that night. Let me repeat that: BRENDAN WITT WAS HIT BY AN SUV ... AND PLAYED THAT NIGHT! Re-read that sentence 56 times a night to your child when they have a case of the sniffles and want to stay home to watch an "iCarly" marathon. By, the way Philadelphia police cited Witt for two minutes in jail for obstruction. Witt will appeal.
10. Teach your kids not to celebrate too much after a goal if your team is winning or losing by a lot. And by all means, tell them celebrate with the team. After they score, tell them not to skate away from their teammates like soccer players. Find the person who passed you the puck and tell him or her, "Great pass." We have immediate group hugs in hockey following a short, instinctive reaction from the goal scorer. I am proud of my boy for a lot of things, but I am most proud at how excited he gets when a teammate scores a goal. He is Alex Ovechkin in this regard.
11. There is no such thing as running up the score in hockey. This is understood at every level. It's very difficult to score goals and unexplainably exhilarating when one does. Now, if we get to 14-1, we may want to take our foot off the gas a tad.
12. Unless their femur is broken in 16 places, Mites or Squirts should not lie on the ice after a fall on the ice or against the boards. Attempt to get up as quickly as one can and slowly skate to the bench.
13. Do not offer cash for goals. This has no upside. Passion and love and drive cannot be taught or bought. I do believe a certain measure of toughness and grit can be slowly encouraged and eventually taught. Encourage your kid to block shots and to battle hard in the corners. It will serve them well in life.
Enjoy the rink. Keep it fun, keep it in perspective and enjoy the madness. In this digital world of electronics, you may find hockey to be the most human endeavor you partake in. Cell phones run on batteries. Hockey players run on blood. Blood is warmer. Welcome.
John Buccigross' e-mail address -- for questions, comments or crosschecks -- is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every four years USA Hockey’s playing rules are evaluated and have the opportunity to be changed. With this being a rules change year, the USA Hockey Board of Directors voted on a number of proposed modifications during Annual Congress.
Perhaps the most notable rule change gaining approval was the elimination of the ability to ice the puck when shorthanded for age classification 14U and below. The Board also voted to strengthen language around the game misconduct penalty in Rule 601, with the new verbiage stating that a game misconduct penalty shall be issued to any player or team official who uses language that is offensive, hateful or discriminatory in nature anywhere in the rink before, during or after the game.
“I believe overall everyone feels our game is in a really good place,” said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey. “The most important thing we need to focus on is our current rules in place. Our officials play such a big role in the overall safety of the game and we appreciate their efforts to fully enforce the current standard of play that exists in the book.”
Modified Shorthanded Icing Rule Delivers More Skill Development
USA Hockey has modified its playing rules for the 14-and-Under age classification and all younger age classifications (youth and girls) to no longer legalize icing while a team is shorthanded. Beginning with the 2017-18 season, if a team ices the puck while shorthanded, it will result in a whistle followed by a defensive-zone faceoff. The team that commits an
icing infraction will be allowed to change lines and/or players prior to the defensive-zone faceoff.
The rationale behind this rule change is twofold.
First, and most importantly, the change will encourage greater skill development for 10U, 12U and 14U players. These young athletes are in their prime skill development windows and will benefit greatly from the increased emphasis this rule change places on promoting puck possession, puck protection and play-making (as opposed to merely firing the puck down the ice, which is a low-skill tactic). Second, the change prevents a penalized team from gaining an exception to a rule (icing) that is in effect while teams are at even strength.
“We want to encourage players to get their heads up, think and make skillful, intelligent plays,” said Ken Martel, the technical director of USA Hockey’s American Development Model. “To develop problem-solving skills, we need rules that encourage players to think. Modifying the shorthanded icing rule will accomplish that. Rather than just blasting the puck down the ice, they’ll now be encouraged to skate or pass their way out of trouble, use greater touch to chip a puck out, or even take advantage of a lazy power play and go on the attack.”
Data collected from nearly 200 games played under this modified rule showed that the average number of shorthanded icings per game was only 1.81. Therefore, there were fewer than two stoppages per game due to this rule, which dispels the myth that it will ruin the flow of games and make them dramatically longer.
USA Hockey has successfully used this modified rule for more than 10 years at its National Player Development Camps. Players adapt almost immediately and more shorthanded scoring opportunities are created by the play-making mindset that it nurtures.
“Skill development and play-making is an emphasis at the professional level and it should be an absolute priority at the youth levels, so I support USA Hockey’s decision to change the rule,” said Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach and back-to-back Stanley Cup champion. “It will encourage kids to make more skill plays with the puck, and that will help develop their full potential as players.”
USA Hockey passed rule changes regarding Age Related Modules and Safe Sport Training. For the 2017 - 2018 season. No coach will be allowed to be placed on a USA Hockey roster who has not completed an Age Related Module for the level they are coaching and who have not completed Safe Sport Training.
The USA Hockey Registry will not allow them to be placed on a team's roster. There is no appeal of this matter.
These coaches are not allowed to conduct practices, coach in games or perform any other USA Hockey activities. until they have completed the Age Related Module and the Safe Sport Training.
Interested in being a Hockey Ref? Pioneer Valley Ice Hockey Officials Association is looking for new Refs! Start at the youth hockey age levels working with experienced Ref's and work your way to higher level hockey. If you are interested Call Steve Sady (413)335-8416