IHAAZ set to open 2022 season with new format, new logo, renewed excitement
It’s almost time to drop the puck on the 2022 IHAAZ season.
And while this year will boast many familiar teams and players, there are several changes for the new season that has everyone involved optimistic for the season.
First, the season will be kicking off in mid-February with four qualifying events in Yuma, Tucson, Queen Creek, and Peoria that all lead up to the 2022 IHAAZ State Finals event being held this June in the new Wheelhouse facility in Prescott Valley.
Each IHAAZ qualifier event is its own standalone tournament and is no longer part of a series. Teams may play one tournament or participate in all four events – the choice is theirs. Teams wishing to compete in the 2022 state finals must play at least two qualifier events to be eligible.
Overall, there is much to be pumped for with the season ready to start Feb. 11-13 at Kennedy Memorial Park in Yuma.
“We’ve seen enormous growth in roller hockey and IHAAZ over the last several seasons that has culminated in a big bubble with our 14U and 18U age groups,” said IHAAZ tournament director Nick Boyarsky. “We’re now to a point where we have projected 12 teams for our 14U division. We haven’t had a division with more than eight teams in a really long time. Our projected numbers for our 18U division are 8-10 teams.
“So we have all this growth. We have this bubble that’s kind of at the tail end, so we’re trying to create an atmosphere where those teams have fun tournaments to play in. They’re not playing at, you know, 4 a.m. and playing until 2 a.m., which is the only way we could fit everyone if we try to jam them all into one weekend. Also, we’re trying to make the series as accommodating as possible so that bubble doesn’t burst in two years and we’re back down to four teams at every age group.”
Boyarsky said a major reason for the split into individual qualifying events is to give teams that may be working around conflicts or busy schedules.
“We have some teams and programs that are itching to play with play and would play in November if we started then,” Boyarsky said. “We have others that are waiting for their schedules to clear up a little bit, so we’ve created these standalone tournament events so that we don’t have to wait until the spring to start. We can still provide some play for those that want to play earlier in the year without making it impossible for people to qualify for our state finals.”
Another noticeable change people will notice soon is that the traditional IHAAZ logo has been replaced with a fresh modern one, signifying a new chapter for the organization.
“As IHAAZ kind of builds its own personality, which is something it’s kind of never really had, we decided on the new logo,” said Boyarsky. “IHAAZ was always this culmination of all these different programs, and it didn’t really have an identity, so we’re trying to give it a little bit more of a tournament identity in a little bit less of a league identity, and that’s in the in the new logo and branding we’ve created and in the new format we’ve put together.”
After Yuma, Tucson Indoor Sports will host the next qualifier March 11-13, followed by April 22-24 at Barney Family Sports Complex in Queen Creek.
On May 6-7, the Peoria Sportsplex will host a qualifier for 14U and 18U only, with 8U, 10U and 12U going May 21-22, also in Peoria.
State finals is set to be played June 10-12 at the new Wheelhouse facility in Prescott Valley.
For more information, visit IHAAZ.com.
— Matt Mackinder
(January 20, 2022)