Tryouts for 2023-24 Season

WEST HARTFORD YOUTH HOCKEY ASSOCIATION TRYOUT POLICY

West Hartford Youth Hockey Association (WHYHA) conducts a tryout process for those players wishing to participate on a Travel team. 

The WHYHA tryout process is aligned to our overall mission and our goal is to place each player on the team that will provide him or her with a competitive environment – one that will give each player the greatest opportunity to develop their hockey skills, have a positive learning experience, and have fun. In addition to individual player development, we are also working to create competitive teams that are best positioned to compete for state championships each year.

Tryouts are open to all registered players of appropriate age, as defined by USA Hockey and the Connecticut Hockey Conference (CHC).  

TRYOUT PRINCIPLES

The WHYHA Board of Directors adopted these principles to govern the tryout process:

  1. Achieve the most accurate player placement;
  2. Provide the players and parents of WHYHA transparency in the process;
  3. Provide guidance to tryout evaluators in order to create a more consistent process; and
  4. Provide a known set of standards upon which players are measured to assure the highest possible degree of fairness and objectivity in the process.


TRYOUT FORMAT

Tryouts are typically conducted over one or two on-ice sessions (based on number of registered players and age division). Each session typically includes a mix of skating/skill drills, battle drills, small area games, and/or scrimmages.

Due to the number of players registered for tryouts at a certain age division, the Tryout Committee typically needs to split the age division into two groups. The Tryout Committee will use the coaches’ evaluations from the prior season to select groups that are reasonably balanced, both from an age and skill level. The Tryout Committee reserves the right to make adjustments to group placements for the second on-ice session of tryouts based on feedback from the first on-ice session.

EVALUATORS

WHYHA uses independent evaluators to assess on-ice tryouts and complete player evaluations. Typically, there are 2 to 3 independent evaluators per on-ice session. Independent evaluators include: (i) knowledgeable hockey evaluators unaffiliated with WHYHA (e.g., IPH and / or Sasha Malkov); and (ii) current or former WHYHA coaches with no direct affiliation or conflict of interest with the age group trying out (e.g., former WHYHA coach with no kid currently in WHYHA; or current WHYHA coach may evaluate another age division if such coach does not have any family or friend ties to such age division as reasonably determined by the Tryout Committee).

The independent evaluators report to the Tryout Committee and will not share any of their evaluations with coaches or parents, in order to keep the process as objective as possible.

EVALUATION CRITERIA

The criteria used for both coaches’ evaluations and by the independent evaluators are:

  1. Skating – Overall skating ability, including stopping, edges, backwards, speed, quickness, agility, crossovers, and change of direction
  2. Puck Skills – Puck handling, passing and shooting
  3. Hockey IQ – Game awareness, playmaking, knows their position, understands game flow, plays offense and defense, passes the puck, and overall hockey sense
  4. Compete/Effort – Intensity, hustle, and attacks the play in both practices and games; 1:1 battles

In addition to the criteria above, coaches also provide feedback on coachability (e.g., listens, applies what is being taught, positive influence on team).

SELECTION PROCESS

The Tryout Committee will meet to make final team selections following tryouts. These selections are based on the coaches’ evaluations and independent evaluator rankings, as well as overall team competitiveness. 

Coaches for the following season’s teams are typically not determined prior to tryouts. However, the Tryout Committee may contact prior season coaches and/or potential coaches for the following season during the selection process for additional input on team selection.

The “A” team of each age division is selected first, with the primary objective being to select the most competitive team to represent WHYHA at the respective age division. In order to ensure WHYHA remains competitive at the top-level, these selections are made based on skill, ability and overall team competitiveness.

The Tryout Committee believes that there should be no “unwritten rules” as part of the selection process. Player selections are based on a player’s objective scores and coach/evaluator feedback – they are not made based on other considerations such as (i) what team the player was on the prior season, and (ii) whether the player is a first-year or second-year player in the given age group. There are no guarantees that a player will move “up” from one season to the next and players entering their second year at a particular age division are not given preferential treatment in the player selection process. 

Every year, situations arise where the Tryout Committee recommends difficult placement decisions that may not align with someone’s expectations. WHYHA makes every effort to find a place for each kid to play and develop that is commensurate with such player’s skill, potential and commitment. 

# OF TEAMS and # OF PLAYERS

The Board of Directors, with input from the Tryout Committee, will determine the number of teams at each age division. This decision will be primarily based on the number of players attending tryouts and available ice time to support each team. The Board of Directors, with input from the Tryout Committee, will also determine the number of players on each team based on the final player rankings after tryouts. The goal is to ideally limit roster size to a maximum of 13 to 15 skaters and 1 goalie, with a minimum of 10 skaters and 1 goalie. For Mites, roster size is typically limited to a minimum of 9 players and maximum of 13. However, overall numbers and player rankings may impact the program’s ability to achieve this goal.

CROSS-ROSTERING

WHYHA may choose to permit “cross-rostering” (where a player splits his/her time between another club team outside of WHYHA and WHYHA) on a case-by-case basis, with input from both the Tryout Committee and the likely Head Coach of the subject team. Any player permitted to cross-roster must participate in at least 50% of the WHYHA team’s practices and games.

COACH SELECTION

WHYHA recognizes and believes that high quality coaching is one of the most important ingredients for a successful hockey experience. Every effort will be made to have the best possible Head Coach available to coach each team.    

POST-TRYOUT PLAYER ADDITIONS

After tryouts have occurred, players wishing to join a WHYHA travel team will be accommodated to the extent possible. The Director of Coaching will consider roster additions to the team determined appropriate given a player’s skills and only if the existing roster size permits an addition. In all cases, the player will need to be evaluated on-ice in some form. All such post-tryout accommodations for late registrants will be done first with the best interests of the players and the coaches of the teams and then with the individual late registrant in mind.

USA HOCKEY "PLAY-UP" POLICY

USA Hockey rules permit a player to "play up" a Division Level, but players may not generally play up more than one age classification. For example, an 8 year old player may play up one age group, so he/she could play for the “10 and under” team. In some cases, based on the skill, size of a player or other considerations, it may be desirable to utilize this option; in other cases, it may be best for the player to remain in the lower age group.

USA Hockey’s rules do not require an association to allow any player(s) to play up.

All such requests should be made in writing to the WHYHA Board of Directors, by the parents or guardian, to help document any such requests and the parents/guardian’s desire to have it granted. The written document can become important if the player becomes injured, as a result of the play up request. An impartial evaluation of the player’s skills (compared to others at the level requested) will be considered by WHYHA conducted by the player's current coach (or an impartial panel of coaches) before a decision is made by the WHYHA board on a play up request. Once a decision is made by the WHYHA board on the play-up request, the player may be granted the ability to tryout at the age classification above the player's current age classification. Play up requests need to be submitted to the WHYHA board of directors no later than 2 weeks prior to the scheduled respective division tryout.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: If I have any questions on the tryout process, who should I contact?

A: If you can’t find an answer to your question in the FAQs, please reach out to the Tryout Committee at info@westhartfordhockey.com.  

Q: My child will be unable to make any or all of the tryout dates (due to injury, etc.). What should we do?

A: Tryouts are required for anyone interested in playing travel hockey in WHYHA and families should make every effort to attend both tryout sessions for their respective team. Attending the tryouts gives the evaluators the best opportunity to get a full assessment of your child’s overall ability. If your child is injured or unable to participate in the tryouts for whatever reason, please register your child for the tryout regardless - and contact the tryout committee and inform them of the situation. We will work to evaluate your child as best as we can based on the data available, but remember the best way for us to get a complete evaluation is to have your child present at each tryout. 

Q: What are the prerequisites to try out for WHYHA hockey and do we need to be a member of the organization?

A: You do not need to be a current or past member of WHYHA to tryout, however pre-registration is required for all tryouts (this can be completed on the WHYHA website via the ‘Register Online’ link). 

Q: Is there a separate Tryout for A teams at each Division Level?

A:  No. All players are evaluated together at each Division Level.

Q: Who are the head coaches for next season?

A: Head Coaches will be determined and named after the Tryout process has been completed.

Q: Where do we go on the day of tryouts? How does check-in work?

A: Tryouts will be held at either Veterans Memorial Rink or Trinity College. Please check the WHYHA website for updated tryout times, dates and locations. When attending a tryout, please arrive early and check-in at the table in the lobby. The volunteers will be handing out colored “pinney” jerseys and numbers. The players will need to wear the pinney over their jerseys during the tryout, with the number visible on their back. 

Q: What about goalie tryouts? I didn’t see any dates/times listed.

A: Goalie tryouts will be handled as part of each team tryout – there will not be a separate goalie tryout session. Goalies should attend each tryout session in their goalie gear as they will be evaluated as a goalie throughout the entire tryout. For players interested in trying out for goalie please contact the tryout committee to state your interest in trying out as a goalie.

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