AHSHA moving forward, making plans for 2020-21 season
Amidst all the uncertainty with the COVID-19 crisis, AHSHA is using the spring months to make tentative plans for the 2020-21 high school season.
The 2019-20 season ended in early February with the state championships at Ice Den Scottsdale, but with the USA Hockey National Championships wiped out, Division 1 champion Hamilton High School didn’t get a chance to play for a national title last month in Texas.
Moving forward with an outline for next season is all AHSHA can do at this point, in addition to hoping for a return to normalcy at some point.
“I am looking forward to the continued growth of high school hockey in Arizona,” said AHSHA hockey director Tait Green. “I think there is potential for AHSHA to become bigger and better than it ever has.”
The Arizona Coyotes will continue to be a major supporter of AHSHA next season, and it’s that support that has seen the league start to gain not only exposure on the West Coast, but across the country.
“The thing about high school hockey is that it truly does check so many boxes that the Coyotes look for when attaching our name to a product,” said Coyotes supervisor of amateur hockey events and business development Jon Shivener. “High school hockey isn’t a specific city-based organization, or a West Valley vs. East Valley thing, one rink ownership group vs. another, or even a Phoenix thing. High school hockey has statewide reach to players and families all over, north to south, east to west, and in every ice facility this state has.”
“The Coyotes are at the forefront of NHL teams supporting the local programs,” added Green. “They have helped AHSHA become the largest youth program in the state and their support will continue to make more opportunities for more kids, which only grows the game. The Coyotes have shown AHSHA that they truly are committed to growing hockey in the Valley.”
For the 2020-21 season – the 21st season of AHSHA – there won’t be many changes or alterations regarding league operations.
There will still be four divisions next season – Division 1, Division 2, Division 3 and JV – but after the seeding tournaments have been completed, the AHSHA Competition Committee can make a recommendation to have five divisions like in the 2018-19 season (D1, D2A, D2B, D3 and JV).
“Our championship games for D1 have sold out the past four years and our D2 championship game was a sellout this past season,” AHSHA administrator Lauri Griebel said. “Our playoffs have become the ‘it’ event in town in January and February.”
The season cost for players will be determined in May, also when registration opens. There will again be an early bird registration discount and payment plans will be offered. Every player also will receive two tickets to a Coyotes game for the 2020-21 season.
Rinks used next season will include AZ Ice Peoria, AZ Ice Gilbert, AZ Ice Arcadia, Ice Den Scottsdale, Ice Den Chandler, Oceanside Ice Arena, Gila River Arena, Jay Lively Arena and Tucson Arena.
And while no new teams are currently in the works for 2020-21, Tucson is anticipating having enough players to form two teams, showing a tremendous growth for high school hockey in that area.
AHSHA president Ray Reed is chomping at the bit to see teams back on the ice as soon as it is safe to do so.
“I am hoping that, as a nation, we can get this viral pandemic under control and return to some sort of normalcy in time to proceed with a fall season,” Reed said. “Right now, the 2020-21 season is up in the air, but AHSHA plans to cautiously press forward, taking things one day at a time.
“I believe the kids want to get back on the ice ASAP.”
— Matt Mackinder
(May 4, 2020)