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Hockey Alberta restructuring women’s hockey at all minor levels

By Neil Hilts on February 26, 2016

(Flickr photo by ehemphil2014)

A new organizational model is coming to women’s hockey in Alberta, which should lead to higher performance and progression of players.

On Feb. 12, Hockey Alberta announced a province-wide model in the midst of implementation that starts in Grassroots Atom and will help players as they push forward to higher levels. It has been in development for more than three years and should be instituted for next season.

The new system, as seen in the photo above, is broken down by the findings of the Female Hockey Review Committee, who determined 10 per cent of Albertan girls should be playing in Midget AAA, 20 per cent should be in Elite (both Bantam and Midget) and the remaining 70 should play in grassroots.

In Grassroots Atom and Peewee, there will be around 60 teams at each level, while Grassroots Bantam will have approximately 40 and Grassroots Midget around 35.

In the Midget AAA Division, Hockey Alberta named Calgary, Edmonton, Lloydminster, Okotoks, Red Deer and St. Albert as the six host communities to have teams. Hockey Alberta did not establish boundaries, allowing female players to try out for any team they want. 

The six cities with Midget AAA teams will also have Midget Elite and Bantam Elite teams. There will be 12 teams in each division, and Hockey Alberta is in the process of determining the other six host cities. These cities, according to Hockey Alberta, will be strategically located areas around the province that gives players an Elite option that is not too far from home. Players wanting to play for an Elite team will have to do so at their local or closest team, as geographical limitations will be put in place once established.

In a quote from Greg Nesom, part of the Female Hockey Review Committee, and courtesy of the Hockey Alberta press release, he stressed the importance of players being home grown.

“The new model provides each female player in Alberta with the chance to start playing in her home community, then progress to a regionally-based Elite team at Bantam or Midget, and potentially move to the top of the pyramid at Midget AAA,”Nesom said.

One of the essential parts of the Grassroots leagues is the opportunity for young players to play at home or as close to home as possible to best develop their skills. Hockey Alberta says it should also have players in the same abilities and age groups.

A strong foundation should lead to provincial success for Alberta in competitions, plus with more national team members from the province. This is a huge move that should see other provinces follow-suit or adopt some similar criteria. This is another tremendous move forward in the advancement of women’s hockey. 

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By Neil Hilts| February 26, 2016
Categories:  Minor Hockey
Keywords:  AB Minor Hockey

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