I know it is difficult with the temperatures that we are being blessed with these days to be thinking about hockey, but the 2022-23 season will begin in mid-September for the U18 Division. This being the case, I figured I’d send out a quick email to welcome everyone to the season and just share a few details.

To open, for those who do not know me, my name is Todd Pettinger, the U18 Division Director. I’ve been involved at every level of SPMHA hockey, coaching, refereeing, and as a member of the SPMHA Executive for the past six seasons. This will be my fifth year serving as the U18 Division Director. Prior to that I spent a season as the Director at Large Senior. This season, I will also have an additional hat to wear as the U18 Director for the EFHL league that Sherwood Park plays in.

For those who have not yet met me in person, I have the honour of helping shepherd our children through what is almost assuredly the most interesting division in hockey, with a three year age grouping, multiple subdivisions within the U18 program at the elite level – trickle-down from these sub-divisions affect the makeup of our teams, and a difficult time in the personal lives of many of our players who are growing, bursting at the seams with hormones, and dealing with life in general – high school, becoming new drivers, discovering the ups and downs of relationships, and for some, balancing life, school, hockey, and jobs.

I have three kids myself, two of whom play hockey – the eldest aged out of U18 two seasons ago but is trying out for Junior B, while the younger is in his second year of U15 – so for the third time in five years, I will have no child in the division this season. My guiding principle as a Division Director is to ensure that all players in the U18 division are placed on teams of an appropriate level to their skillset where they can be both developed and challenged, within the framework of the teams that we will be able to form. I believe in ethics and transparency in this role – I will communicate as much as I possibly can to the membership and pledge to get it as right as I can.

The U18 Division (formerly called Midget) is typically the last division in SPMHA to get started as many factors influence the make up of our teams, including flow-down from multiple levels of Elite Stream hockey. If your son or daughter is making their way into the U18 division for the first time, there are several major differences from the younger age divisions. These will all be discussed in upcoming Posts on the website and during our annual Evaluation Town Hall meeting. We start the division a bit later but this is off-set by the season also starting later than all the other divisions. SPMHA U18 players won’t hit the ice until September 15, 2022, when several warm-up skates will be scheduled to let the players get their skating legs back underneath themselves. We are anticipating a start to the EFHL season of the second week of October but I should have a more firm date by mid-September when the EFHL meets next and will publish the season start date.

I don’t want to overwhelm everyone with too many details in this first communication, I simply wanted to reach out to start the communication for the season. To avoid having too many different places where communications have to be watched for, after this initial email has gone out, almost all communication will be through the website (https://www.spmha.ab.ca/u18). Once evaluations are underway, it will be important for everyone to watch the website for evaluation game updates and which players will play on which dates.

I will be publishing further information, including dates that you can expect to begin seeing more information posted on the website over the next two weeks. In addition, if you should “hear anything through the grapevine” regarding the U18 Division that you’d like clarification on and can’t find on the SPMHA website or FAQs, please don’t hesitate to email and ask – my goal is to try to respond to most inquiries within 24 hours of receipt and I would rather answer and have accurate information out there being propagated than misinformation which gets everyone all bent out of shape.

For the time being, stay safe and healthy!

 

TODD PETTINGER, U18 Division Director

Sherwood Park Minor Hockey Association

 

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