The prevailing sentiment is that it wasn’t always like this in Michigan. In fact, longtime observers say it was never like this.
When the bustling burg of Novi hosted 160 girls for USA Hockey player development camp tryouts late last month, evaluators couldn’t help but notice the youngest invitees. And it wasn’t merely the best 2003-born players they noticed, it was all of them, a collective representing 12 associations with more skill, more composure and more polish than any previous birth year.
With such an abundance of precocious talent, Michigan suddenly verged on overshooting its allotment for the Mid-Am Multi-District Camp after years of struggling to produce enough talent. Narrowing the list was more difficult than ever, which is a good omen for girls hockey in the Great Lakes State.
“That group was exceptionally talented; they were exciting to watch,” said Jean Laxton, MAHA girls/women’s vice president. “And it was especially encouraging because those 2003s have clearly benefitted from the American Development Model within their local associations.”
Players from Little Caesars were among the record number of Michiganders selected for August's Mid-Am camp in Kent, Ohio, a building-block event for 2003s who become eligible for USA Hockey’s National Player Development Camp in 2018.
In all, the advancing players represented six different associations. Darren Eliot, director of amateur hockey for Little Caesars, believes the foundation for that success was set years earlier.