AHSHA spring puck serving as precursor to ‘18-19 season
April is here, and that means that the latest edition of the Arizona High School Hockey Association (AHSHA) Spring Hockey League has arrived as well.
This season, there are six teams in Division A and nine teams in Division B. Games began April 2 and will run through May 23 with the contests being played at the Ice Den Chandler, Ice Den Scottsdale, Oceanside Ice Arena and AZ Ice Arcadia.
Tait Green is an AHSHA Board of Directors member and heads up the spring league’s skills clinics. It’s his first season in this role, but he’s enjoying the league so far.
“There have been many versions of the AHSHA spring league over the years, not sure how many, but we are excited for this season,” said Green. “There is a need for spring league because there is a need for skill development with AHSHA players. These kids do not get enough practice during the season. More time on the ice, more touches with the puck and more understanding of the game will only make our league stronger.”
All games are played in a 4-on-4 format with each team playing 10 games and participating in two 90-minute skills clinics – one already took place last month and one will take place at the end of April. These sessions are conducted by AHSHA Premier and Team Arizona coaches.
“Skills clinics are designed to help players in all areas of their game rather than a team-focused system practice,” explained Green.
The 4-on-4 format is a great way for hockey players to work on implementing new dekes, moves and skills while having fun with their teammates and friends. Hockey is meant to be fun, fast and highly skilled, and the Spring Hockey League was created with this in mind – to provide players with more open ice to handle the puck, generate speed, create offensive opportunities and to encourage players to utilize and develop their skills. This also allows the goalies to react to and experience more action.
As for the roster makeup, any player from any AHSHA program can play, including eighth graders who will be ninth graders in the fall. Graduating seniors are ineligible, but some have stepped up to serve as teams’ assistant coaches. Head coaches are current AHSHA fall league coaches.
Green said the need for the spring league is a simple one.
“I just want kids to become better hockey players,” said Green. “It will make AHSHA a more competitive league. I have definitely witnessed a growth in numbers and interest. People are starting see the benefit in letting a kid play both tier and high school hockey. And I think the kids are seeing how much fun it can be to play for their school in front of their school peers.”
And as high school hockey in Arizona continues to grow in numbers, popularity and its competitive nature, Green is banking on the spring league to serve as a springboard to improved teams this fall when the AHSHA regular season gets underway.
“I think we will grow by making better players and better coaches,” said Green. “Now that the Arizona Coyotes are supporting AHSHA, we have the tools and ability to keep improving, and that will only bring more opportunity for growth.”
That growth has already started to showcase itself this spring.
AHSHA SPRING 2018 – DIVISION A
AHSHA SPRING 2018 – DIVISION B
— Matt Mackinder
(April 26, 2018)