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LCAHL, MAHA join forces for 8U fall program at new rink

08/10/2017, 10:00pm EDT
By MAHA Staff

The Little Caesars Amateur Hockey League and the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association are joining forces to develop an open 8U fall hockey program at the new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. 

The LCAHL and MAHA will select eight to sixteen teams that will participate in a full 2017-18 hockey season in a league named the ‘Little Caesars Amateur Hockey League 8U Division’ at the new home of the Red Wings.

The new league will be open to teams who can commit to full participation in the Saturday-morning program; the selected rosters will form an elite division of the LCAHL, similar to the “Yzerman” division at older age groups. Some Tier 1 organizations will be participating, as well.

All participating teams will take part in a 19-week schedule of hour-and-a-half timeslots at the LCA; the divisions will alternate weeks from September through March, giving each group a bi-weekly game schedule at the new arena.  The second group of eight will play in a division often known as the “Howe” division. This will be for lesser experienced teams, or newer teams who are in their first year of competitive hockey. Regardless of the division, each will receive the same amenities and experience of playing within the new league at Little Caesars Arena.

The LCAHL and MAHA are strong supporters of USA Hockey’s American Development Model, and they have attempted for many years to encourage associations to come together to play half-ice hockey in a league format. The new league is the latest attempt to encourage half-ice and cross-ice hockey at the 8U level of play; MAHA and the LCAHL hope to expand the league in future seasons and illustrate the potential of full USA Hockey ADM adoption.

“The LCAHL has been around since 1978 and it has always been viewed as a national leader in terms of scheduling, programming, and being a platform for each association to collaborate on the structure of youth hockey in the state of Michigan,” said LCAHL manager Andrew Stewart. “Over the past few seasons, we developed ‘Jamboree at the Joe’ events and received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participating teams. With Little Caesars Arena opening in the fall, we wanted to do something even bigger; we wanted to create something so good that the whole country will look into at what we are doing here in Michigan.

“It’s great to see a full commitment of USA Hockey’s American Development Model from top to bottom, and it is starting with some of our state’s recognized programs who have fully integrated the USA Hockey model and are coming together at the youngest age level. Our hope is this division will spark an interest for all associations to commit to full adaptation of the ADM, and, through our league, we can continue to build and shape the landscape of youth hockey together.”

The program will be designed so that participating teams maintain their own practice schedules at their home rinks, and then compete with other teams every other Saturday. The new league will be 100-percent USA Hockey compliant, and it will help with determining better parity for the MAHA State Tournament. All of the teams participating will be eligible for the state playoffs.

“Having teams compete using this format will really help build the skills they need for future levels of play,” said MAHA president George Atkinson. “We are very thankful to LCAHL for adding an Yzerman and Howe division to the league at these age levels, and what a treat to have them play their league games at the new arena in Detroit.”

In each visit to Little Caesars Arena, teams will play three games within an hour and a half of ice utilization. In the final two weeks of the program, the 8U teams will practice a simulated full-ice game with head coaches on the ice to assist players in their transition to 10U in the spring.

“Congratulations to the Little Caesars Hockey Amateur Hockey League and the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association in partnering once again to take the lead in providing an age-appropriate pathway for youth players 8 and under,” said Bob Mancini, regional manager for USA Hockey’s American Development Model. “The LCAHL 8U half-ice league should prove to be another positive step in the development of players of this age.”

A new trophy will be created and subsequently presented to each winning team on an annual basis; team names will be engraved on the trophy and it will live at Little Caesars Arena. All players will receive a year-end participation award, and the LCAHL anticipates have some unique Red Wings-related surprises for the participating teams, as well, with the new league operating within the confines of the new Little Caesars Arena.

For more information on how to participate in the LCAHL’s new program at Little Caesars Arena, contact LCAHL manager Andrew Stewart at Andrew.stewart@LCAmateurSports.com.

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