Do the WBS Junior Knights follow the ADM model?
The WBS Knights operate under USA Hockey's American Development Model (ADM). The ADM is USA Hockey’s nationwide player-development program for youth hockey associations. It’s based on age-appropriate, age-specific competition and training for boys and girls, beginning with their first steps onto the ice and carrying them through age 18 and beyond. The ADM places a heightened emphasis on skill development and long-term athlete development principles, providing a blueprint for the best possible youth hockey experience. Put simply, it’s doing what’s best for kids.
Please Explain the Different Levels of Youth Hockey
It is often confusing how programs use the word AAA or Tier 1 or Elite. Depending on where you live in the country, AAA, AA, A, B, C, House, Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, and Tier 4 all mean different things. Within each organization, teams are separated by letters. The top teams are usually AAA, followed by AA, A, B, C, and in-house at each respective age group. Despite the different terms, a AAA team in one organization may not be any better than an A team in another organization. Within USA Hockey age classifications, the letter “U” stands for “under”; e.g. U6 is for teams with players under 6 years old. Per USA Hockey, below are the “general” age classifications for competitive youth hockey:
- U6 – Mite Minor
- U8 – Mite Major
- U10 – Squirt (Major and Minor)
- U12 – Pee Wee (Major and Minor)
- U14 – Bantam (Major and Minor)
- U18 – Midget (Major and Minor), High School
- U20 – Junior (EHL, NA3HL, NAHL, USHL)
What is the difference between AYHL (Tier 1) and EJEPL at Revolution?
If a player wants to play at the AAA level, possesses the skills and dedication to play at the AAA then they will be given the opportunity to try out for the Tier 1 AAA AYHL team. Unfortunately, not everyone can make the Tier 1 team as try-outs can be very competitive. Playing Tier 1 hockey will allow your child to work and get better throughout the year, because every year brings another open tryout and new kids who are eager to play Tier 1 hockley.
The overall competition and the level of play is higher at the Tier 1 level. The game takes an additional step up in skill and speed – just as it did when a player moves from house to travel hockey or when a player goes to the next level – age level for example. There is still a spread in terms of the skill level of individual players and teams at the Tier 1 level, but the overall level of play is much faster.
The EJEPL will provide extremely competitive play for your child at a high level with the Knights. The EJEPL league creates a seamless transition process which will allow players at the 9 U to the 18 U levels to develop their skills and learn systems play while developing at a hockey player. During the season, players may also be rewarded with the opportunity to practice and play with the AYHL teams at the next level up making the players stronger, faster and better hockey players.
Finally, there the cost aspect. Tier 1 hockey is more expensive than EJEPL hockey due to the following:
- League fees
- Additional ice time
- Additional coaching fees
Tier 1 vs. EJEPL?
It comes down to the skill of the player and the commitment of the family. There is no other way – no one else that can make that choice for the player or the player’s family. If your son or daughter is not ready for Tier 1 hockey, it is not a negative. They should play in the EJEPL and get more confidence, gain more skills, get more game time play and be a leader on the team. Conversely, just because your son or daughter makes the Knights Tier 1 team does not guarantee they will play as much as all the other players. In certain birth years, AYHL Tier 1 is not available and the Knights will field an EJEPL team so we can belong to a league which has many added benefits to the teams.
In some age groups, the Knights may not offer an AYHL Tier 1 team. EJEPL will be the choice for some age groups as we feel this is best for the players and for the organization. As an organization, we will always strive to place the kids on the team/teams that will be best suited for their development, ensuring the player continues to enjoy the game of hockey while developing his/her skills.
What is a Tier 1 organization?
Tiers are designated by USA hockey and they represent levels of hockey for state, regional and national competition. Tier 1 is the highest level of hockey in the country and USA hockey offers National Championships at U14(Bantam), U16(Midget Minor) and U18(Midget Major) levels.
Under Tier 1, there are many leagues. The WBS Knights teams play in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League (AYHL). The AYHL is the premier Tier 1 AAA travel league on the East Coast. It is comprised of over 125 teams from the Atlantic, Southeast, New York and New England Districts.
Tier 1 hockey is subdivided into Major and Minor teams. Minor teams are comprised of first year players at that level and Major teams are comprised of second year players. Major teams at the Peewee level and above are eligible for the USA Hockey National Championships.
Tier 1 is a very sought after designation and each year, the Tier 1 status gets reviewed to ensure the teams are competitive, the coaching is adequate and the program is practicing and playing at the highest level. The WBS Knights are the only Tier 1 youth hockey program in northeast Pennsylvania.
Can the Jr. Knights compete at a high level?
The Jr. Knights’ teams have won a USA Hockey National Championship and competed Nationally several times in the highest level leagues. Those same coaches and management continue to lead the Knights organization. The Knights strive to play the best teams at every level. Our facility, combined with the proper balance of on ice and off ice training, will allow us to continue to compete at the highest levels.
Should I skate during the spring / summer or just in the fall?
Although the youth hockey tryouts are in March and April, the season does not start until September 2019 and will run through March 2020. WBS Knights players that sign a Contract will have the opportunity to skate throughout the spring / summer at Revolution to continue developing their skills and get better. We are aware that some kids play other sports, but as your child gets older AND wants to play hockey at a high level (Tier 1 / AYHL), it is important that hockey takes priority and that your child attend all skills clinics, practices, special skates as well as any camps that you are financially able to attend. It shall be duly noted that the casual hockey player that just enjoys the game is much different than the passionate player that has high level aspirations. Most importantly, we encourage the parents to communicate with the coaches and staff about your expectations.
How many players have the Knights sent to Division 1 college over the page 6 years?
Over the past six years, the WBS Knights have sent 57 players to continue their playing careers at Division 1 college and universities including Big 10, Ivy League and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and 120 players to continue their playing careers at Division 3 colleges and universities.
Do the Knights provide scholarships for youth hockey?
In conjunction with the WBS Knights, Northeast Youth Hockey was established as a 501(c)3 Pennsylvania non-profit organization to develop ice hockey in northeastern Pennsylvania. Since its development, Northeast Youth Hockey has worked with many players that needed assistance in playing travel hockey. NYHA provides merit based and financial based scholarships. Over the past six years, the WBS Knights have sent 57 players to continue their playing careers at Division 1 college and universities including Big 10, Ivy League and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and 120 players to continue their playing careers at Division 3 colleges and universities. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What does this all mean to reaching higher levels of hockey?
Playing higher levels of hockey doesn’t mean you have to play AAA or Tier 1 at younger ages, it means that you have to find the right program and coach. Development at younger ages means a lot different than older ages. Most players are not scouted until they are Bantam Major or older. Rarely a player will be touted about when he / she is a Pee Wee Major.
Hockey development is unusual in that the best players in their younger days may have played A, or house instead of the highest levels in their respective organizations. It is unfortunate but typically, the higher designation with extra A adds cost to hockey. It is often benefited with much higher league fees, more ice time and higher level coaches. More puck touches on a smaller lower level team might be more beneficial than no or low puck touches on a higher level team.
Other components play factors to creating opportunities for players also:
- Training: How good is the training? Are they working on skills or just team tactics? Are they working on becoming better athletes?
- Support: Do players have parents or family that picks them up when they make mistakes, and signs them up for training?
- Opportunity: Do coaches, teammates, parents, players themselves create opportunities for success?
Recognition and Achievement: Does performance lead to recognition and achievement?
As discussed earlier, scouts for junior and college teams come to see players that are in their Bantam and Midget years. Size, interests, skills change rapidly as players grow, puberty and external forces begin to impact hockey players. Athleticism, conditioning, speed, talent separate players at this age. For this reason, players are encouraged to be at the top of their games by bantam major. Players have the greatest development between the ages of 10 and 14. It is these years that define their future in hockey at the higher levels.
There are many paths to Division 1, Division 3 and pro hockey. There are many intermediate steps along the way. There is no right path or direct path. The best players will be found but to become the best player, players will need to compete against the best and get high level coaching.