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MAHA announces the approval of four Girl's programs for Tier 1 status in 2017-18

By MAHA Staff, 01/27/17, 9:00AM EST


The Michigan Amateur Hockey Association has announced that after an application process and subsequent evaluation, four girls’ hockey programs have been approved for Tier 1 status in the 2017-18 season.

The 2017-18 Tier 1 Designation Recommendation to the State Playoff Committee – as created by the MAHA Girls’/Women’s Tier 1 Designation Sub-Committee – states that four programs will be granted Tier 1 status for next fall. That recommendation was approved during the 2017 MAHA Winter Meeting.

“USA Hockey has been working on defining Tier I hockey for two years,” said Jean Laxton, MAHA vice president for girls’/women’s hockey. “The final girls’ Tier 1 standards and criteria were amended at the USA Hockey winter meeting Jan. 20-22. MAHA passed our Tier 1 rule for girls in July of 2016 to align with the USA Hockey rule, which will go into effect for the 2017-18 season. The legislation in place to limit Tier 1 associations will help us maintain a high standard of play at Tier 1 and prevent the dilution of Tier 1 hockey. We also hope that it will increase the growth and competition of Tier 2 teams and offer more opportunities for girls to have age appropriate training where they can develop by playing at the right competitive level.”

The programs granted Tier 1 status for the 2017-18 season are as follows:

  • Honeybaked
  • Little Caesars
  • Belle Tire
  • West Michigan Elite (Meijer AAA)

The new Tier 1 status application and approval system was enforced to comply with a USA Hockey ’20-percent rule’ recommendation, where only 20 percent of player participation should be at the Tier 1 level.

With the 20-percent calculation, the 14U Tier 1 level shall only have four teams; the 16U Tier 1 level shall only have four teams; and the 19U Tier 1 level shall only have three teams (a fourth has been ‘grandfathered’ for competitive balance).

“As this decision and process was difficult, I am confident that our sub-committee provided a recommendation that followed the defined criteria for designation, and specifically aligned with the intention of the USA Hockey 20-percent rule,” said Joe Provenzano, chairman of the sub-committee. “It is important to remember that this is an annual application process, and the growth of our sport determines the number of Tier 1 teams that we can support. It is my sincerest hope that our focus on growing the game at the youngest levels will allow us to expand the number of Tier 1 teams in the future.”

Associations pursuing Tier 1 status were required to submit a detailed application by Nov. 1 involving the following criteria:

  • Organizational governance and good-standing
  • Coaching, player development and player advancement
  • Organization’s ability to field teams at all levels
  • State of a feeder program
  • Growth initiatives
  • League participation

The application process for Tier 1 status will be an annual process, and, as indicated by Provenzano, the hope is that as girls’ hockey participation numbers continue to grow, as too will the number of Tier 1 programs.

“MAHA's decision to limit the number of Tier 1 programs is a positive step towards improving the landscape of girls’ hockey in Michigan,” Laxton said.