USA Hockey Magazine

January 2018

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JANUARY 2018 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM // 5 I t's an idea that is faster than a speeding bullet, m o r e p ow e r f u l t h a n a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. This season, the Aerodome I c e S k a t i n g C o m p l e x i n Houston has been taken over by pint-sized superhe- roes who are patrolling the ice decked out as one of their favorite comic book characters—Batman, Flash, Green Lantern and Captain America. The program is the brainchild of the Aerodome's General Manager TC Lewis, who was looking to add another element of fun to his learn to play program. "This Mighty Mite program is their first taste of hockey, which includes playing in a uniform," said Lewis, who is also on the board of directors for USA Hockey. "We wanted this to be a neat, fun experience where they could get jazzed and excited about something." Despite concerns that a cos- t u m e c l a s h w o u l d e n s u e , t h e responses were very positive. "We were a little concerned on the feedback we would get if the kid didn't like his jersey or want- ed a different one," Lewis said. "We handed them out with no trouble, which was great. The kids seemed to love them and were excited to wear them." With the feedback he has received, Lewis hopes superhero jerseys are an idea that will catch on at other rinks. "This has raised the bar," he said. "It really was creative and outside the box for what we've done and added a level of fun to the ice. Hopefully we'll roll this out each season so that when new players sign up they'll get a superhero jersey." P Mite-y Idea Has Houston Tykes Feeling Super YOUTH HOCKEY SKILLS k An innovative program has youngsters feeling super in Houston. THEY SAID IT "A s m y s ka t i n g g o t b ette r, m o r e av e n u es o p e n e d u p to m e … co l leg e o p e n e d u p to m e, t h e p r os o p e n e d u p to m e. D o n ' t sto p w o r k i n g o n y o u r ga m e, b eca u s e n o m a tte r h o w o ld y o u a r e, y o u ca n a lways g et b ette r." k Goal-scoring is on the rise in the NHL this season, and one of the contributing factors is an increase in shorthanded goals. New Jersey Devils head coach John Hynes cited a change in the way NHL teams approach the penalty kill as a driving force. "It's a mindset of understanding that just because you're defending, you're not just defending to defend. You're defending to win possession of the puck and then being able to attack, whether you're five on five or on the penalty kill," Hynes said. It's a philosophy that is percolating up from the grassroots level thanks in part to USA Hockey's decision to no longer legalize icing by shorthanded teams at 14 & Under and younger age levels. That rule change is designed to encourage young players to make a play rather than blindly fire the puck the length of the ice to relieve pressure. It has provided another ave- nue for youth hockey coaches to emphasize true skill development at the grassroots. While this is the first season for the rule change, it has a time-tested foundation as USA Hockey has successfully implemented the rule at its National Player Development Camps for more than a decade. SHORTHANDED SCORING HEATS UP AS ICING GOES COLD —NICK BONINO, two-time Stanley Cup champion who is now with the Nashville Predators 3 U S A H O C K E Y N E W S , P E O P L E & P R O G R A M S

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