December is always a busy month for scouting. Lots of time on the road this year compared to last year concerning AAU-UHU Hockey. Last week was spent at the CPJHL showcase in Sault Ste Marie Michigan, and this weekend was spent in Las Vegas for the WSHL showcase.
This was the second year I attended the WSHL event and I was attending with purpose this year. My purpose? To really examine if the teams elevating from the AAU pay to play model were ready to make the jump to free to play next year.
The quality of play is there. There is no question that there are more than enough WSHL players that can compete in any free to play league. Anyone saying there is not, has not gone to a WSHL game between the top teams.
I was looking for more specific details. The details that will really determine the success of this endeavor.
First, and most important was that Owners and Coaches alike that are making this happen are ready. Ready does not mean having a competitive team on the ice. Ready means having the mindset and plan to move forward. Ready means being willing to commit the financial resources to the operation to make it happen.
Paraphrasing one coach; My owner lets me coach. He is committed to making sure the players have a great experience and have the best opportunity possible. Money has never been an issue when it comes to making sure the players have the best experience possible.
The second thing I was looking for was an elevation in standards and expectations. Again, not from a wins and losses standpoint, but from an operational standpoint. Once again, I was not let down.
The entire WSHL has raised its standards and expectations with the announcement of the C1HL. Players who once may have been a little more care free when entering or leaving an arena were more professional. Coaches who may have been a little more laid back in their approach carried a new air about themselves. Referee’s even looked to be taking everything just a bit more seriously.
I am a person who believes that people in an organization take on the qualities and characteristics of their leaders. The leadership for the C1HL effort has infected the entire AAU movement, and the scouts have taken notice too.
More and more scouts have taken notice too. As scouting numbers from NCAA D-1 programs were up, and D-3 programs were represented enforce. When recent NCAA National Championship participants are in the building, it is hard not to notice.
With an expansion application for the C1HL pending, and another being prepared, the C1HL could soon see their numbers rise. Make no mistake, AAU-UHU is ready. The components for a successful first C1HL season are there.
With raised expectations, AAU-UHU members across the board are raising their standards. More information is expected from the new league in the coming weeks, and 2017 is right around the corner.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher