Dear TJHN, TJHN Readers, Junior Hockey Players, Prospects and Parents:
I am a frequent visitor to your site and just starting my term as Director of Hockey Operations with the Atlantic Junior Hockey League. Regarding the state of Tier III Junior hockey on the East Coast, I wanted to weigh in and let readers know that the Atlantic Junior Hockey League is not exploring any options outside of Junior hockey, nor are any of the 12 AJHL Franchise Members. On the contrary, the AJHL just completed its first season as a stand-alone league.
For the first nine years of its existence, the AJHL was underneath the Atlantic Metropolitan Hockey League umbrella. That organization also oversees the Atlantic Youth Hockey League and the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League. I have been head coach of the AJHL Walpole Express for the last five seasons and helped the “new” AJHL separate from the AMHL. I also helped build the new non-profit entity. This past season was the AJHL’s 10th Anniversary campaign. It concluded with an overtime win in Game 3 (the deciding contest) of the finals for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. The exciting game marked the end of a truly successful season.
Throughout the season, league owners spent considerable time solidifying the foundation of the new entity and planning for the future. For starters, the league created a full time Director of Hockey Operations position, a job I am proud to hold. Instead of one person wearing many hats, the league now has focused leadership moving forward. Jeff Nygard will remain as AJHL Director of Administration. I will help each team/organization continue to develop its on- and off-ice operations. I will draw on my background in coaching, player development and knowledge of USA Hockey to continue to move the AJHL .forward, improving the Junior hockey experience for our athletes.
The AJHL has also re-committed to offering “true” Junior hockey. The league will remove virtually all equipment and rules that differ from USA Hockey’s. Additionally, the 12 organizations will commit to offering the true Junior experience as a tried-and-true path to college hockey. This re-emphasis on true Junior hockey is the result of the 12 ownership groups dedicating their efforts to the player experience and the ultimate goal of advancing players to college hockey.
I realize information may be hard to extract during times like these. However, I want to set the record straight, at least from the AJHL perspective. We plan to stay on our committed path of providing a nurturing environment with USA Hockey Junior standards—set forth in the USA HOCKEY GUIDEBOOK—to provide our athletes the opportunity to achieve their goals
AJHL Director of Hockey Operations