USA Hockey finds CAHA has ‘everything the players need’
Last month, USA Hockey American Development Model regional manager Joe Bonnett visited the Ice Den Scottsdale and the Jr. Coyotes/Coyotes Amateur Hockey Association program.
The nature of Bonnett’s job duties is to help youth hockey clubs that want help in his region.
“I have known the (Jr. Coyotes) Elite Hockey program director Marc Fritsche for many years and he asked me to come down and observe their youth hockey program,” said Bonnett, who coached at the NCAA Division I level for 18 seasons. “Marc is very proud of the Jr. Coyotes club and what it stands for locally and nationally. He understands that he has taken over a prestigious club in Phoenix and he has a strong desire to build on that reputation.
“Marc is in search of new and modern youth hockey programming ideas to integrate in his association and wants to improve the Jr. Coyote experience for the players, parents and coaches though continual improvement and self-examination.”
During his venture to Scottsdale, Bonnett toured the Ice Den, skated with nearly all the Jr. Coyotes teams and interacted with many of the program’s coaches.
“I was extremely impressed with the cooperation among coaches and players to create a high-performance training atmosphere at the rink,” Bonnett said. “The facilities are outstanding – clean, bright and cold. With the addition of the video room, training center and third sheet of ice, the Jr. Coyotes are now equipped to deliver world-class training every day in this facility. When an association can provide the proper amount of on-ice training, off-ice training, video work and coaching, true hockey development can occur.
“After leaving the Ice Den, I was convinced that young Phoenix players will receive the proper training to reach their fullest potential as a hockey player. I have not seen many facilities nicer than the Ice Den. As soon as you walk into the building, there seems to be a positive vibe and great culture. The players seem to enjoy coming to the rink.”
Bonnett went on to say that the Jr. Coyotes are doing things right to grow the game in Arizona, and it all starts with the leadership at the top.
“Mike DeAngelis laid the foundation with proper youth hockey programming and is considered a leader among hockey directors,” said Bonnett. “He handed off a strong club to Marc and all successful hockey clubs have a strong hockey director – I see this in Marc. The former NHL players that are giving back to this program is awesome as well. Marc does a great job of blending these guys into the program and have them help or mentor other coaches that have passion for the game. It is a great layer of coaching and perhaps some of the best that I have seen around the country. Having a layer of NHL experience, professional youth coaches and parent coaches is a strong combination for success.”
Overall, the future is bright – and getting brighter by the day – for the Ice Den and the Jr. Coyotes.
“Sustainability in youth hockey in any region of the country is directly dependent on the strength of the bottom of the youth ice hockey pyramid,” Bonnett said. “Your 8U program needs to be the strongest, largest and most exciting and organized age group of your state and club.
“Looking at the Jr. Coyotes program, they have everything the players need to reach their full potential. Encourage your player to take advantage of these resources and stay home to train to reach their goals and make Phoenix the best hockey community in the country.
“As a side note, remember how Auston Matthews reached his fullest potential. He stayed home, was a rink rat, trained, had great coaching and skating coaches. Obviously, his story is awesome for the growth of the game and this provides a reality to the dream of every Arizona hockey player.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Jan. 24, 2019)