For the past several years Massachusetts Hockey has requested and received an exemption from USA Hockey’s rule requiring use of age appropriate ice for 8U games. Each year the number of games has been reduced by direction of USA Hockey. It has become apparent that any further exemption request would be futile and if secured it would be basically meaningless.
Therefore, in accordance with USA Hockey guidelines for sanctioned play at the 8U (and younger) age group, Massachusetts Hockey will no longer sanction any game that is played using a full ice surface. The Board of Directors believes strongly that it is in the best interest of players to develop skills on an age-appropriate sized surface.
We are aware that some programs and leagues may choose to disregard the American Development Model requirements for 8U hockey in order to capitalize on possible member/parent demands. We consider that unwise and not in the best interests of our members. Mass Hockey will not sanction such play.
USA Hockey, of which Massachusetts Hockey is an Affiliate member, has issued guidelines pursuant to its authority under the Amateur Sports Act (36 U.S.C. s. 220501 et seq.) regarding non-sanctioned play. Those guidelines are available in the 2016-17 USA Hockey Annual Guide (available online at www.usahockey.com) on pages 41-44. It is expected that any and all programs registered with USA/Massachusetts Hockey will abide by these regulations.
Having said that, Mass Hockey cannot prevent a member organization or member from participating in non-sanctioned events provided certain requirements are met. USA/Mass Hockey registered teams playing in a non-sanctioned event or game must be part of a separate organization that is sufficiently distinct from the Mass Hockey sanctioned program. The non-sanctioned organization or team(s) should have a separate board of directors, the team cannot wear the same uniforms or have the same team names and all the rink or vendor contracts relating to the non-sanctioned team or activities must be in the name of the separate organization rather than the Mass Hockey member organization or team.
It is important that such distinctions be maintained for liability, governance and public perception reasons. A member of Mass Hockey may not simply send its Mite teams off to participate in unsanctioned play and expect that its other level teams remain members in good standing with Mass Hockey. Parents and individual members should be aware that important questions of insurance, discipline, officiating and the like are affected by not following Mass Hockey’s rules and participating in non-sanctioned play. It is important that you keep this in mind as Mass Hockey will take action against a program/member if it finds it/they are violating our rules and regulations.
A great majority of the hockey community in Massachusetts and around the country has enthusiastically endorsed age-appropriate sized playing surfaces. It is the future of development. Mass Hockey has committed to following this model. Most of our leagues in the state have committed to offering cross-ice/age-appropriate game solutions that will fit within the rules and regulations and not jeopardize their programs. We hope you will join us in the effort for the long range benefit of our members. It is our hope to provide a program for older 8U players transitioning to 10U full ice play next season.