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Calling All Hockey Moms and Hockey Fans!

Posted by on Sep. 10, 2012 at 10:22 PM
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Hi, I am a hockey mom to a 19-year-old son who is playing Juniors hockey in Minnesota.  Looking for other hockey moms to share thoughts, stories and advice with.  I also started a blog which chronicles my son's last season this year and my reflections as I go through my last season as a Juniors hockey mom.  Hope to share with lots of other hockey moms out there!  If you would like to check out my blog, "Adventures of a Juniors Hockey Mom", you can find it at puckmom25.blogspot.com. 

by on Sep. 10, 2012 at 10:22 PM
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Barabell
by on Sep. 11, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Hello, and welcome to the group! I live in Minnesota also. My son is going to be a 2nd year peewee this upcoming season. Neither my husband nor I grew up in hockey households, and so I'm happy to see another Minnesota mom in this group that has been there and done that. With only 3 years left at the youth level, I'm not really sure how we can navigate and continue supporting my son's love of hockey over the upcoming few years.

I also have been struggling to find a local junior level team to watch, and I was happy to come across the Twin City Steel from the links on your blog. When we visit family in Kalamazoo, we've watched the K-Wings play, and it has been a lot of fun. I've been trying really hard to find a local junior league that we can afford to watch. The Wild and U of M hockey games are just so expensive!!

puckmom25
by New Member on Sep. 12, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Hi and thanks for the welcome!  It is actually my son who lives in Minnesota, the rest of the family lives in Chicago.  Brad is starting his third year of Juniors and has been living with an awesome billet family in Little Falls for the past two years. He plays for the Minnesota Flying Aces. We do try to get up to see his games as often as we can, unfortunately, it is an 8-hour drive and our younger son plays lacrosse, so free weekends are hard to come by.  I have to say, I love everything about Minnesota (except the cold!).  The people there are so friendly!

 One thing we have learned about Minnesota is that it is definitely hockey central and just about everyone plays in some capacity.  Because I am not a Minnesota native, I am afraid I don't know too much about youth hockey opportunities, but the owners of Brad's team could probably give me some good information that I could pass along to you.  I do know that it is a difficult juggling act sometimes to be able to make it work, especially given the odd practice and game times that hockey is relegated to at the rinks.  And yes, the cost is a major consideration.  I won't even tell you how much Juniors costs, i don't want to discourage you!  I will tell you, though, it has been worth every cent we have spent for our son to be able to live his hockey dream.  His entire youth and high school hockey career, his goal was to play Juniors in Minnesota and he achieved his goal.  Hopefully he will move on to a college team next year. 

As far as teams that you can go and watch in your area, I would definitely recommend going to watch the Granite City Lumberjacks. They won the NA3HL championship last season and while they lost almost all of their players, they put together an experienced roster for this season.  Any game you would go see would be good.  Many of their players move on to the NAHL and college teams.  My geography may be off, but I don't think they are too far from you.  They are actually playing my son's team this Saturday night in Granite City. There is also a new team in Breezy Point this year, but forgive me, I don't know where Breezy Point is in relation to you.  Going up a level to the NAHL, there are the Austin Bruins and the Brookings Blizzard.  Again, I am not much help geography-wise!  Both leagues have very competitive teams with a lot of talented players. 

 It is funny that you mentioned Twin Cities Steel.  My son had his second official fight against a Twin Cities player at the beginning of 2012.  We were actually at the game.  Talk about a surreal hockey mom moment!  Keep in mind, my son is a 6'7", 220 pound defenseman,so it was a pretty one-sided fight.  He won, but ended up breaking his finger when he punched the guy in the face. The fight ended up turning into a line brawl.  He and the other guy got ejected and suspended for a game, but he said it was worth it!   Juniors is definitely very physical!   Most of the NA3HL game are in the $6-$8 for an adult ticket, a few bucks less for kids.  Not too bad.  I think your family would find the games at that level very entertaining and worth the price.  The nice thing, too, is that often the players will come out after the game and meet the younger fans and sign autographs and stuff, which is cool. 

 

 

Barabell
by on Sep. 13, 2012 at 9:47 AM

Thanks for the additional info. I should have mentioned that I live in the Twin Cities. We live in St Paul. We're about 1.5 to 2 hours from St Cloud, and we're about 3 hours from Breezy Point. My son did an overnight camp at Breezy Point this last summer. It seemed like a great program, and he had a lot of fun.

My son is in junior high right now, and we're going to be looking for a high school next school year. I know that most of the better players in St Paul go to private high schools, but we're probably going to send my son to a public high school because of the magnet and advanced college prep course path he's already on through our public school district. The high school hockey team available on that path is not very good. The plus side is that he'll probably be guaranteed a spot on the team. The negative side is that he probably will not play with that good of players. I know that junior gold is an option in our area, but I don't know much about it at this time.

I am definitely interested in learning more about the Juniors that your son plays for. I am going to look at going to their games. I think it would be a great family activity. It's also good to know that my son might have additional options if he so chooses upon graduating high school. Thanks!

puckmom25
by New Member on Sep. 14, 2012 at 11:26 PM

I am glad you mentioned academics because grades are a really high priority in Juniors.  Most Juniors players aspire to play NCAA hockey at some level.  The first question an NCAA coach will ask a player, without exception, is "what is your GPA"?  If it isn't at least 3.4 (or higher for Division I schools), the conversation is over, no matter how good the player is.  If your son is on a college prep track, make sure he stays there.  It should always be academics first, hockey second.  Brad could have gone to San Jose at the start of his junior year in high school to play for the San Jose Jr. Sharks, but we said no because junior year is too important academically.  It was a good decision because he finished high school with a high GPA.

Honestly, what high school team your son plays on is not that critical.  Brad did not play for an elite travel or prep school team in high school.  He played on his high school team, which was a middle of the pack team in Illinois.  Certainly not a hockey powerhouse by any means.  In the spring of his junior year, he did a showcase about 20 minutes from our house.  The scout from the Flying Aces was there and saw him play.  After the second day, he offered Brad a tender.  The head coach never even saw Brad play.  Three days later, Brad had signed a contract with the team and had a guaranteed roster spot for the upcoming season.  It happened that fast.  The morale of the story is, if your son is good, he will get seen.  Showcases and juniors team tryouts are the best places for them to get seen, particularly if you don't play for a high exposure team.  Brad didn't even start playing hockey until he was 10, so anything is possible!  If he doesn't get injured this season, he is on track to be able to play at any D3 school in the country at the end of this season.   Showcases give players great exposure to coaches and scouts from all over the country and where you live, there are probably a lot of showcases.  Something to keep in mind when your son gets into high school.  

I think you are definitely doing the right thing by looking at keeping him on the college prep track and going to public school.  I cannot emphasize enough how critically important grades are.  Players are reminded over and over and over how important their academic performance is.  The players on our team must maintain a certain GPA if they are taking high school or college classes.  If your son is a good student (and it certainly sounds like he is), that is a tremendous asset and advantage for him.  Juniors coaches like smart players!  

If you want to learn more about the Aces, go to their website at mnflyingaces.com.  The 2012-13 schedule is up, so you can check to see if they play in Twin Cities this season (I am pretty sure they do).  If you go to a game, just look for big #25!  

highlandmum
by Admin- Elaina on Sep. 15, 2012 at 10:27 AM
Now I am confused with your league levels in the US. How old are the players in the Jr. League? Our hockey levels are the following

City level teams
Fundamentals - ages 4 & 5
Pre tyke - age 6
Tyke - age 7
Novice - rep MD begins. Age 8. Tryouts for MD - select 7 year olds will also be selected for the MD level. Teams at this level include - house, select house and MD
Minor Atom - age 9. Teams at this level include - house, select house, MD, AA/A, and AAA
Major Atom - age 10. Teams as Minor Atom
Minor PeeWee - age 11. Teams as Minor Atom
Major PeeWee - age 12. Teams as Minor Atom
Minor Bantam - age 13. Teams as Minor Atom
Major Bantam - age 14. Teams as Minor Atom
Minor Midget - age 15. Teams as Minor Atom
Major Midget - ages 16 & 17. Teams as Minor Atom
With all of the above players stay within their own city. Our Cities teams are very competitive and have ample players that come out. We usually have 10 + teams at each age group when you add all levels together. It is not uncommon for tryouts to have over 125 players coming out.

Minor Midget Is when players learn of any OHL draft prospects. Other players look to the Jr. B or US university system. We also have a Jr. C division at this age.
hockeymomsue64
by Sue on Sep. 15, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Hi I'm Sue, mom to Brian, Alan, Danny and Collin, they are in that order 26, 24, 18 and 16. Collin my 16 yr old is the only one still at home, he is in Junior's and is a goalie, he played his first year of Junior hockey with his 18 yr old brother Danny but Danny has moved on now and plays College hockey out in Colorado, he is a defenseman. My 24 yr old is a goalie and played College hockey but hasn't played much since, my 26 yr old still plays on teams here and there.


puckmom25
by New Member on Sep. 16, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Juniors in the US is for players 16 to 20 years of age.  After age 20, you "age out" and either go and play for a college or university or play somewhere else, (AHL, Canada, European leagues, etc.). 

Barabell
by on Sep. 16, 2012 at 2:10 PM

USA Hockey is:

Mite (boys) / 8U (girls) - 8 and under

Squirt (boys) / 10U (girls) - 9 and 10

Peewee (boys) / 12U (girls) - 11 and 12

Bantam (boys) / 14U (girls) - 13 and 14

In Minnesota, the cutoff date is July 1st. So even though my son is turning 13 in a couple of days, he is playing as a 2nd year Peewee because he was 12 on July 1st. We don't have the major/minor thing. It's just 1st year or 2nd year ___. 

For the AAA teams, they play based on bith year... like 98, 99, 00, 01, etc.

Quoting highlandmum:

Now I am confused with your league levels in the US. How old are the players in the Jr. League? Our hockey levels are the following

City level teams
Fundamentals - ages 4 & 5
Pre tyke - age 6
Tyke - age 7
Novice - rep MD begins. Age 8. Tryouts for MD - select 7 year olds will also be selected for the MD level. Teams at this level include - house, select house and MD
Minor Atom - age 9. Teams at this level include - house, select house, MD, AA/A, and AAA
Major Atom - age 10. Teams as Minor Atom
Minor PeeWee - age 11. Teams as Minor Atom
Major PeeWee - age 12. Teams as Minor Atom
Minor Bantam - age 13. Teams as Minor Atom
Major Bantam - age 14. Teams as Minor Atom
Minor Midget - age 15. Teams as Minor Atom
Major Midget - ages 16 & 17. Teams as Minor Atom
With all of the above players stay within their own city. Our Cities teams are very competitive and have ample players that come out. We usually have 10 + teams at each age group when you add all levels together. It is not uncommon for tryouts to have over 125 players coming out.

Minor Midget Is when players learn of any OHL draft prospects. Other players look to the Jr. B or US university system. We also have a Jr. C division at this age.


Barabell
by on Sep. 16, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Oh, and staring around the Bantam age, kids start playing for high school or Junior Gold in Minnesota. I'm not sure if Junior Gold is offered in other states. My son's association only goes up to Bantam, and so I'm not sure how the Junior Gold works or what our options are if he doesn't want to play on the high school team.

The actually high school that he will probably go to doesn't have its own hockey team. The kids have to play at another high school within our school district. A few other options are also private schools that have hockey teams or nearby school districts that also have hockey teams. We have school choice here, and so nearby school districts are a realistic option.

highlandmum
by Admin- Elaina on Sep. 16, 2012 at 9:46 PM


Quoting Barabell:

Oh, and staring around the Bantam age, kids start playing for high school or Junior Gold in Minnesota. I'm not sure if Junior Gold is offered in other states. My son's association only goes up to Bantam, and so I'm not sure how the Junior Gold works or what our options are if he doesn't want to play on the high school team.

The actually high school that he will probably go to doesn't have its own hockey team. The kids have to play at another high school within our school district. A few other options are also private schools that have hockey teams or nearby school districts that also have hockey teams. We have school choice here, and so nearby school districts are a realistic option.

All our high schools have hockey teams.  But in order to be fair players who are in AA or AAA cannot play on a high school team.  I really do not think these players would have the time.

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