Having worked in pro and junior hockey, I am familiar with the “three-in-three” concept. When teams are trying to maximize attendance, or must consider players’ schooling, lots of games are crammed into weekends.
I can also tell you that the third game in three days tends to be $&%@ hockey…
So, what about the long-standing tradition of in-season high school hockey tournaments where teams routinely play four games in three days? – less than three days, really, when you consider the first is generally payed Friday night and the fourth is played Sunday morning. Sometimes the championship tilt can be a good match-up, but how about those Sunday 8:00 a.m. seventh-place games?
It is difficult to measure the quality of a hockey game, but I don’t think many hockey players, parents or coaches would challenge the assertion that tired hockey players make for bad hockey games.
The high school hockey culture is no different than youth hockey in that in tends to over-value the number of games young players cram into their schedule. More games do not necessarily mean better development or better hockey. There is something to be said for practice and rest.
Pat McKendry was the head coach at Walsh Jesuit from 2009-2019, where the Warriors host three tournaments per year at KSU Ice Arena.
McKendry had a problem with the standard high school tournament format, so he decided to change it up. At each of the tournaments Walsh hosted during the 2018-19 season, teams played just once on Saturday. To make up for some of the lost playing time, all tournament games consisted of three 17-minute periods instead of the OHSAA’s standard 15-minute periods.
The concept is less is more, or quality over quantity, when it comes to varsity competition.
“I always thought that playing two games in one day was a bit crazy and not very productive,” said McKendry. “When talking with a few other coaches, we essentially came up with the same discussion points: #1 – it is to many games in a short amount of time, #2 – the second game on Saturday always has problems, and #3 – Playing 17-minute periods you don't lose much game time and the games are of a higher quality. Truthfully it is a winning combination all around.”
While the quality of any given hockey game may be subjective, there are data points that can be collected on individual players through physical testing that compare how they perform in different environments.
To back his theory up with data, McKendry points to the research of Ken Martel, technical director of USA Hockey’s American Development Model. With over 25 years of experience in player development, and a long history as a coach with USA Hockey, Martel is charged with helping to provide a framework for optimal athlete development for associations nationwide to follow.
Martel’s master’s thesis at Eastern Michigan University researched the T1EHL showcase setups, and our National U18 and U17 Teams, using the same technology that is being deployed in the NHL and others in high performance sports.
The full thesis paper, “Quantifying Changes in Accelerations and Heart Rate Indicative of Fatigue During Condensed Competitions in Elite Youth Ice Hockey Players” is available here for your reading enjoyment:
By the end of this weekend, the Capital Hockey Conference will have a champion, and the Blue Jackets Cup will have a new name on the trophy.
The event that serves as the conference championship for central Ohio hockey will run from today through Sunday, when one local team will win the crown.
Three new varsity programs join the Blue Division of the Capital Hockey Conference this season, bringing the total number of teams in the league to 17. Columbus Academy and Olentangy Berlin play their inaugural seasons at the varsity level while Dublin Scioto returns to full varsity status.
The additions continue a trend of expansion for the CHC, which added New Albany in 2015-16 and Springboro in 2016-17.
Commissioner Bruce McClary leads the Capital Hockey Conference into its 16th year managing expansion that has occurred organically as a result of the quantity and quality of players being produced by the area’s youth hockey system.
“The high level of competition and quality of play in the Capital Hockey Conference are supported by the growing youth hockey leagues in Central Ohio,” said McClary. “All of the youth programs are doing a great job of preparing kids for the next level.”
McClary did not lay out a specific long-term growth plan for the league, but is optimistic there could be more expansion on the horizon.
“We hope that growth continues to add to the number of High Schools that offer an OHSAA sanctioned program,” said McClary. “I am confident the Conference is well positioned to support any High School program that wants to compete at the OHSAA level.”