[U18] Evaluation Cohort Groups

U18 Development groups can be found below at the completion of this article.  Please take the time to read and understand the process below as it will be extremely different than any previous season in SPMHA.

Players have been split into Development/Evaluation Cohorts with players of broadly similar skill.  Each Cohort is divided into two groups with a Group Leader assigned to each. Many of these Group Leaders will become Head Coaches of the regular season teams when they are formed.  The groups will practice, starting October 2nd, with the focus being on development in this early phase of several weeks.  We will then run more formalized Evaluation Games between the two teams in each cohort and by October 30th have final tiered teams decided upon.

Once these tiered teams are published, we will enter a period of 14 days quarantine where we will run physically distanced practices with the new teams.  At this time, permanent Head Coaches will be assigned, bank accounts can be opened and a Modified Competition Season will begin.  Hockey Edmonton advises that we will be moving towards a start for the U18 Modified Competition Season around mid-November, pending Hockey Alberta approval. The idea of this Modified Competition Season will be to play games against one or two opponents (forming a new cohort) over the course of several days, then each team would then isolate for 14 days of practices.  Two weeks later, a new cohort with another one or two teams would be formed, more games played, and the process would repeat itself until the end of the season.

If Alberta Health Services and the Chief Medical Officer determines that increasing sporting cohort sizes is feasible, an alternate plan is in place to increase the number of teams that would be able to play each other before we are forced to isolate for 14 days and re-form yet another cohort.  Hockey Edmonton has presented a variety of options based upon what cohort sizes may be changed to, given a number of different potential scenarios for the spreads/transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

Q. How have these Evaluation Groups been formed?

A. Each division was split into three cohorts (Alpha, Bravo and Charlie) containing two groups in each.  Each cohort will contain less than 50 players and be split into teams with skill levels ranging from a couple of tiers.  Players were placed into a cohort based upon a matrix determined by which level the player played the previous hockey season.  This same matrix has been used for a couple of seasons now in the U15 and U18 divisions to place players into initial tryout groups, so there is nothing new there.

The plan is to have six teams in the U18 Division: Traditionally, Sherwood Park has been able to ice Tier 1, 2, and 3 checking teams, along with Tier 4, 5, and 6 non-checking teams.  Several factors will be taken into consideration for final player placement decisions for regular teams.  The group leader and their assistant coaches will be asked to provide feedback on the players in their cohort group. This feedback will be taken into consideration, along with the scores the player receives in the formal evaluation games.

All players who indicated they wished to try out for a Checking team (tiers 1 through 3) have been placed into the development cohorts A or B so they can experience checking hockey if they have not had the opportunity to do so previously.  At the completion of evaluations, due to having more players who wish to check than we have open positions for on the three checking teams we are allowed, several players will be moved from the B cohort, where they practiced in a checking environment, onto a Tier 4, 5, or 6 team which will be non-checking.

Q. What does the Alpha, Bravo and Charlie represent?  Does this map to tiers 1, 2, 3, etc?

A. Don’t read anything into the name that your group has been assigned.  These just are the phonetic representations of the first three letters of the alphabet – these groups DO NOT map to tiers.

Q. Is my player stuck in their cohort or can players move up and down between the cohorts?

A. While they will be limited to their Evaluation Cohort in the initial few weeks of the “development” season, movement up and down between cohorts will be possible after the evaluation period is completed.  Will it happen as it normally occurs in U18 where a player may be tried in several groups to determine their best fit?  Not this season. COVID-19 cohorting guidelines require us to quarantine any player that moves between cohorts.  All player movement will be determined throughout the evaluation process and then when final teams are formed (target date: Oct 30), the shuffle will occur and new teams will be formed

Click here for the U18 Evaluation Groups Lists

(If your player’s name does not appear on this list, please contact me immediately: u18.director@spmha.ab.ca.)