THE HISTORY OF THE CLEVELAND SUBURBAN HOCKEY LEAGUE
A history is more than words on a page. It shows a little of how we got from there to here. Many hockey players and coaches of the earlier years are now hockey fathers (or even grandfathers) and still enjoy the game. For all who were ever involved or watched the game, we hope you enjoy this timeline.
The Cleveland Suburban Hockey League (CSHL) will celebrate its 35-year anniversary this 2005-2006 season. The League has grown considerably during this time and takes pride in its accomplishments. All of the original seven programs are still active members, so congratulations to them and thank you for staying! Many, many people deserve heartfelt thanks. These include, past and present, those who served as members on the Board of Directors, coaches, fans, officials, parents and participants. They helped the League become what it is today. They dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours to promote and support youth hockey in the greater Cleveland area, and throughout Ohio and its connecting states.
Mid Am Coaching Program Director, Ray Scherer and Jack Zitzman, who served as CSHL president, are both gone now, but their contributions to the League live on. The following pages chronicle the history of the CSHL.
March 22, 1971
On March 22, 1971, Patrick J. Dodson, director of Thornton Park Ice Rink in Shaker Heights, conducted a meeting with other local rinks to discuss the organization of a youth hockey league. The other rinks represented were Cleveland Hts., Elyria, Garfield, and Parma. Invited but absent were Euclid and Rocky River. It was decided to form and call this league the Cleveland Suburban Hockey League.
The CSHL was founded to support and promote age-group hockey in the Greater Cleveland area. The League would be considered a travel league, and scheduling would be in the fall. During this inaugural 1971-1972 season, it was recommended to start with only one age group - the Bantams (ages 13 and 14). Cleveland Skating Club and Rocky River also joined, which now made seven teams. Euclid decided not to join at this time but became a member in 1976. This first season ran from December 15 to February 28, with a playoff tournament the first week in March. MVPs were selected following each game. The membership base fee to join the League was $10.00 (today it costs $150), which covered trophies and office expenses. Each team was also billed the cost of one official per game. The cost to register with the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States (AHAUS) was $6.00 - and it cost a dime to mail a meeting notice.
In addition to travel teams, the CSHL wanted to organize and advocate house leagues. The house leagues would only play within their own local programs, and not travel to other locations. In contrast, the travel teams did just that - traveled from city to city to play. Players participating in these house leagues would be eligible to move up and take the place of a traveling team player if his ability surpassed the travel team player. Sickness and dropout also would open up positions on a travel team.
Kent-Akron, Lakewood and Oberlin joined the League. The season began on December 1, and more out of town teams were coming in to play exhibition games. These visiting players were billeted (spent the night at the opposing team's home), which was a new experience for the players. Getting to know your opponents off the ice promoted more friendliness and understanding. Billeting remained with the League for many years. As the teams began to travel to more exhibitions or invitational tournaments, many began to choose hotel accommodations over billeting because of game rooms and swimming pools.
The Pee Wee Division (ages 11 and 12) was formed. Maple Heights and Northfield joined the League. All-Star games were held in each division, the first taking place at the Cleveland Arena in February 1974. These games would continue until the mid-1980s when it was decided they encouraged more individual rather than team play.
The Squirt Division (ages 9 and 10) and Midget Division (ages 15 and 16) were formed. Bay Village and North Olmsted joined the League. Parents' clubs were beginning to organize and assume the financial responsibilities and other duties of running the team. These would hereafter be referred to by the League as the "member programs." The League doubled in size this season since four divisions of hockey were now offered for competition. The playoffs took place at the Cleveland Arena which continued as the rink of choice for them for several years.
Hudson joined the League. Two high school junior varsity teams scheduled in the Midget division. They were St. Ed's and St. Ignatius. In only its fifth season, the League had grown from seven to 47 teams. From March 27th to April 4th, 1976, an All-Star Pee Wee and Bantam team represented the League in the British Columbia Invitational Tournament in Vancouver. Cleveland was only the second American city to participate in this tournament. The Cleveland Crusaders, C-P Air and Alcan Aluminum were sponsors. The names of the two teams were Stars and Stripes, respectively, in honor of the Bicentennial. In November the Crusaders played the Winnipeg Jets at the Coliseum in Richfield, which was the first of many games to become known as "Youth Hockey Night." Tickets were discounted to member programs and used as a fund raiser, with the program able to make a $2.00 profit per ticket sold.
Due to work obligations, President Dodson wished to no longer be president but was willing to serve in another capacity. James H. Girkins agreed to serve as president. However, Jim was transferred shortly afterward and therefore unable to serve. An election was held and Hugh J. Coyle received a unanimous vote for president and Pat as treasurer.
The other officers for the l975-76 season were Chuck Murray, vice-president and secretary Betty Ann Maulorico (also secretary of Parma Hockey). Division directors were Ken Chermak (Parma), Frank Coughlin (Rocky River), Bill Morrow (Cleveland Heights) and Gordon Harrington (Elyria).
Hugh was also president of the Parma Hockey Association and a true "hockey person" and was full of innovative ideas. He was familiar with running a youth program and saw the potential of growth. He was a dynamic person and willing to travel anywhere for good hockey competition. His idea of "travel" was not the next suburb, but a plane ride away. This was quickly demonstrated. He took two All-star teams from the League to represent the city at the British Columbia Invitational Tournament held March 27-April 4, 1976 in Vancouver. His knowledge of the game along with his love of coaching made possible the CSHL to become an enduring and well-respected member of the youth hockey community. He served as CSHL president for four seasons, took a four-year break and returned for another two years.
University School (another JV team) and Euclid joined the League. As part of the League's continued effort to provide better hockey and improve cultural experiences, the Cleveland International Youth Tournament took place. Seven Pee Wee and seven Bantam teams played host to teams from Western Canada, St. Catherine, Ontario and Cincinnati. Some players were now getting anxious and looking to play a higher level of competition and did not mind the traveling necessary to do so. A few people began looking outside the League to accomplish this.
A professional team returned to the Cleveland area. The Barons returned, but sadly, the Cleveland Arena had been torn down. Their new location was the Richfield Coliseum. As a fund raiser, the CSHL consigned and sold 4,500 tickets for their game vs. Boston played on December 3, l977. Receiving one half of the
$ 7.00 regular price, it was a great way to begin the new season.
From l976 to 1985, the Junior Barons appeared on the hockey scene. Hugh Coyle, Bernie Fritsche and Bob Goebel formed a corporation and entered the team at the Jr. A level in the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League. Four Detroit teams, who were the strongest in Jr. A at that time, were the competition. Four later they competed at the Jr. B level in the MidAm Junior League. Among their competition were teams from Buffalo, Dayton, Erie, Fort Wayne, Rochester and Toledo. Being a local team, it was very involved with the CSHL and inspired younger players.
Up to this point, there was only one level per division in the Squirt, Pee Wee and Bantam divisions. With more teams entering the League, the players’ level of ability was quickly noticed. It was decided to have two levels (A and B) within a division. The teams also split into East and West divisions to decrease driving distances to games. That season the Squirts played 30 games, Peewees 31 and Bantams 30.
The CSHL Junior Division (ages 17, 18 and 19) was formed. In addition to Cleveland Heights, Hudson, Northfield, Oberlin and Parma, teams from Cincinnati and Ft. Wayne scheduled. The division was classified as Junior C, and played a League schedule of 30 games plus tournaments. The division only lasted one season, and teams went elsewhere.
The Cleveland Youth Hockey Association (Cleveland Americans) was formed. It was an "open" concept with players from all areas and offered high competitive AAA hockey at the Tier l level. It sought out the best competition in Chicago, Buffalo, Detroit and other cities where a higher level of play was available. They did play exhibition games with Tier II (CSHL) teams.
The Columbus Capitals joined the League entering Mite, Squirt, Pee Wee and Bantam teams.
The CSHL hosted its first AHAUS Level 1 Coaching Certification Clinic conducted by Ray Scherer, Mid Am Coaching Program Director.
A six-team Mite division (ages 8 and under) was formed. Several teams already existed in various house league programs. They now wanted to do more traveling and believed there would be more commitment as a scheduled division. This new division with younger kids playing drew a lot of new fans into the League with parents and grandparents attending games and playoffs. City playoffs were held at the Lomi Ice House in Akron and ice time cost $50.00 an hour.
AHAUS changed the playing rule books from one to two-year terms.
Brooklyn joined the League. A newly drawn-up constitution and by-laws were adopted by the membership to be the governing instrument of the League. More players were joining house leagues to learn the game of hockey. Talk was beginning about some day forming a league for those players who did not have the ability to play travel, but still wanted to play more games than house leagues offered.
The Northern Ohio Red Wings joined the League which now consisted of 18 member programs. This season 46 teams scheduled including the Padua High School Junior Varsity team. They desired to play exhibition games with our Midget teams and it was not necessary to become a full scheduling member to do so.
An Intermediate AHAUS Coaching Clinic (aka Level II) was conducted by Lou Vairo, who later became the 1984 USA Hockey Olympic team coach.
A week-long International Tournament was held at Winterhurst. It consisted of four divisions with 8-12 teams each. Some teams participating were from the western coast of Canada, including Fort St. John, Whitehorse and Richmond, British Columbus. Prince George in the Yukon Territory won the prize for the longest distance traveled.
The Mid American District 3 developed a new plan for the end of season Ohio State Playoffs. It was decided to now use two divisions, Major and A, instead of just one. It was hoped this new format would generate more interest and encourage more teams to participate.
The League began publishing a hand-out for distribution at the playoff final games and continued the practice for several years. Betty Ann Maulorico, League secretary, thought it would be a nice idea to recognize the players for their performance and achievements on the ice. She prepared a booklet that included final standings, listing of all teams' high scorers, goalie averages, etc. Coaches were requested to submit a little outside information as to various places they traveled for games, how they did, what they won, and any humorous or interesting anecdotes they cared to share. One of the cutest Mite stories was when a Parma team played in Richmond, Ontario. The game ended in a tie and the defenseman questioned if they were going to go into extra innings!
Tri County Hockey joined the League.
The beginning of the League's second decade brought three major changes. These took place as result of the more and more interest that was developing in youth hockey.
1) The house leagues of the member programs were attracted by the amount of games the A level players were playing, but were unable to match that level of ability. Therefore, then President Jack Zitzman (1979-1982) advocated the formation of a "B" League consisting of house league players. It would be operated exactly as the existing League.
Martha Basile and Al Pescatrice did the scheduling for the first season of the new B League. There were 227 games played. Carol Schuette became the secretary doing the assigning and stats. Martha became the secretary a little later in time. Bob Krosky (Garfield) agreed to serve as the commissioner with a committee that included Rick Kish (Parma Hts.), Tom Arthur (Parma) and Lou Sebastian (Brooklyn).
The A division was now comprised of the scheduled travel teams within the CSHL, and the B league scheduled house teams that wanted to play travel on a limited basis. There was no B division for Midgets due to smaller player numbers at that level. No player was permitted to play on both A & B teams. B players could be rostered on an A team, only as an emergency backup player. After playing in an A game, he had to remain there. This entire concept met with overwhelming approval by the membership. The season would schedule 48 A teams and 30 B teams, which was an increase over the last season of 32 teams.
Due to the large number of teams in both the Pee Wee and Bantam A divisions, it was decided to split to an east and west. To determine a playoff champion, the first four teams would play off as usual. A second round would be played, but this time, crossing town. In the second round, the winner of the east 1 & 4 would meet the winner of the west 2 & 3, and vice-versa. This would pave the way for the leaders of the two divisions to meet for the city championship which always resulted in exciting, lively games.
2) Up to this season, all games were officiated by the Cleveland Ice Hockey Officials Association (CIHOA). Ken Goss, Fred Heyer and Bill Hanneberg worked in tandem with the CSHL. The master schedule of games was given to the assigners whose responsibility was to assign qualified referees to the games. Due to conflicts between the CIHOA and the CSHL, it was decided that in the best interest of the League the CSHL would begin its own referee association to officiate the B League. The CIHOA would continue to do the A League. Coaches could contact either group for officials for non-league games and payment was required prior to the game.
The new association was named the Cleveland Suburban Hockey League Referee Association. Fees would be determined by the Board of Directors of the CSHL. It was believed that Jr. Baron’s players, high school and ex-hockey players would be interested in becoming officials. It would also serve as a training camp for the CIHOA, who conducted the necessary clinics for officials to become properly certified under the AHAUS requirements.
3) A huge improvement in the scheduling procedure took place thanks to Tom McMillan of the North Olmsted Hockey Club.
Up to now the September ritual of scheduling games was a tedious process that took hours to complete. Divisions were done on separate nights and usually where the League didn't have to pay a room rental fee. The back storage room at the Parma Motel was a favorite due to being centrally located. Coaches would gather around tables with their home ice availability calendars. In rotation, one coach would call out a date and time. An opposing coach would say, "I can play that," and the game would be put on a master schedule. This would continue until every team had its necessary number of home games. If a third game was necessary, the coaches would decide among themselves who best host it. The master schedule would then be typed and sent to the assigners to schedule officials.
It was a painstaking process that allowed for errors, and while it took hours to do, it was the only known way to do it. Tom McMillan had been present at the scheduling meetings and thought there had to be an easier way to do this! He devised a scheduling formula giving numbers to the teams. The coaches would then move around the table, guided by the numbers' formula, to schedule games. This method also guaranteed an accurate number of games no matter how many teams in a division or the number of games played. His formula was used for 23 seasons.
Some early coaches didn't realize the importance of this formula, and failed to attend the meeting assuming they could add in their games. This naturally played havoc with the system. After one season of allowing this, if a coach was not present the day of scheduling, he could only schedule exhibition games, thus no opportunity for the playoffs. That got their attention!
AHAUS removed body checking from the Pee Wee age classification and made it a penalty. Up to this point, there was no checking in only the Mite and Squirt divisions. This decision came following a lengthy and controversial study. It cited the vast difference in body size of this age group along with medical findings concerning the development of bones and joints in 11 and 12 year old boys. This ruling drew major opposition from the coaches who believed it would be too late to correctly teach checking to players of Bantam age. Irregardless of extreme negative public opinion, it remained in effect for four seasons.
A third division, AA, was added due to the increasing number of teams and various levels of ability. It was thought that by breaking up into three levels of play, players would be provided a level that would best suit them.
The All-Star game was revived after being discontinued for two years. While several people did not want to promote this game, the majority of people agreed to get involved and thought it was a good event.
It was decided to eliminate playoffs for the Mite division. It was felt the parents put too much pressure on the youngest players to win. Instead, a fun skating party with balloons and refreshments took place at Rocky River before the March playoffs and the kids had a ball!
The B Commissioner resigned, and a replacement was put on hold. At this time both leagues were being governed and administered solely by the CSHL Board of Directors.
The Mid Am District was beginning to notice the rapid growth of the CSHL, and the contribution it was making to AHAUS. It was suggested that Lou Vairo, coach of the 1984 Olympic team, might be interested in bringing the team to this area to play an exhibition game. The League thought this would be a great opportunity to see the team that was trying to follow in the footsteps of the l980 Miracle on Ice team.
YEAR of the OLYMPIC TEAMS
The League passed the "100-team mark" with 103 teams scheduling.
The rumor of the Olympic team coming to Cleveland became a busy reality when the announcement was made it would meet Team Canada on Dec. 3, l983 at the Richfield Coliseum. The Cleveland Plain Dealer billed it as "Olympic Hockey Weekend" and gave it excellent coverage.
A reception to meet "Team USA" took place and was attended by CSHL members, players and parents. The game crowd of 16,148 was a record-setter for hockey in Ohio and was the best of any Olympic trial games to that date. The record did not last too long. The Russians and Team USA met a few months later at the Coliseum and drew a few more fans. CSHL was the official sponsor of the USA/Canada game and sold more than 10,000 tickets in advance. Team Canada outplayed Team USA to a score of 5-3, but to the CSHL the weekend was a great success.
To showcase the weekend, the CSHL also conducted a three-day tournament at six area rinks under the banner of Friends of Olympic Teams (FOOT) Sixty-eight teams from both Ohio and neighboring states played 86 games. Commemorative Tee-shirts and pins added to the fun, and perhaps are still tucked away in the memory boxes of those players.
Interest was renewed in the Junior Division since its departure in l977. A common draft was held which resulted in enough players for a four-team League schedule: Little Caesar's Jr. Barons, Elyria, Parma and Shaker. Other teams that played non-scheduled games with CSHL teams were the Cleveland Saints and Tri County Huskies.
Erie and Pittsburgh, PA became scheduling members.
On Feb. l985, the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins hosted a special youth night honoring the Pennsylvania Youth Hockey programs into the CSHL. Their opponent was the New York Islanders. Choice seats were available at special reduced prices of $7.00, which included team decals and team pictures.
General meetings were being attended by parents. Their complaints were about certain rules the League had in place, and also about officiating. These topics took far too much time away from agenda items that warranted full attention at the meetings. For this reason, it was decided to have one person represent a program and thereby referred to as the Head of Program. This person would be the only person permitted to attend the League meetings. If that person was unable to attend, someone of authority with voting rights could be a replacement. Program problems were to be directed to the head of program to resolve.
A new thought for the l985-86 season relative to game scores was considered. At the end of any week, a call-in procedure would be established with winning coaches calling the League office with weekly results. The mailing of game sheets would still be mandatory, but stats could be compiled by the secretary over the weekend, typed and mailed so coaches would have them by Wednesday. The same procedure would be used for the B League. It was agreed to try the concept and see how it goes.
Referee instruction clinics for the CSHL refs were well attended. As more teams scheduled in the League, the demand for more officials remained.
Momentum was rapidly gaining in the B League since its inception in l981. While many people contributed to its growth, certain people devoted countless hours. Carol Schuette served as secretary and assigner while George Flynn, Tim Lepkowski, Herb Levy, and Tim Murphy served in their fields of expertise. Their presence and willingness in the early years played a major role in the development and success that was to continue. Tim Murphy was appointed CSHL referee-in-chief responsible for recruiting and training our own officials, and was assisted by George Flynn who became assigner of games. Both men were members of the Cleveland Ice Hockey Officials Association.
Significant material resulted from the AHAUS June, l985 meeting:
1) Age changes again - Effective the l985-86 season, Midgets were now 16 & 17, Bantams 14 & 15, Pee Wees 12 & 13, Squirts 10 & 11 and Mites 9 and under. Players in all divisions would be third-year players, and this change would create some confusion. However, it was held at a minimum since it happened all over the country. The change impacted the Junior Division since Midgets were now l7. The older players had to find a Men’s League in which to play.
2) The highly controversial “no-body" checking rule at the Pee Wee level was overturned and checking was reinstated.
3) The AHAUS PEE WEE NATIONALS TIER I Tournament was awarded to the CSHL and took place on April 4-6, l986 at the Greenbrier Ice Rink in Parma Hts. This was a very prestigious tournament awarded not only to the League, but also to the Mid Am District.
Seven entries had to win their respective States, Districts and Regionals on their way to Cleveland. The eighth team, the CSHL host team, coached by Ron Short, was selected from tryouts of players from within the League. In preparation for the Nationals, Team Cleveland planned about 50 games with triple A teams in and around New York, Ontario and Michigan. It also would represent the CSHL in Thanksgiving and Christmas tournaments as well as Dayton Silver Sticks. The other entries were: Alaska All Stars, Buffalo District, Cleveland Americans, Randolph-Stoughton (Mass.), St. Clair Shores (Michigan), Southern Connecticut and Team Illinois. Team Illinois won the championship game with a come-from-behind 6-5 win over Anchorage, AK.
4) After much success with the Midget Player Development Camps held in Colorado Springs, AHAUS conducted camps for the Bantams.
Shortly after play began in the Mite division, it was realized that a re-alignment was necessary. Therefore, divisions were formed at AA, A Red and A White. It ended with the Mite AA playing 22 games, A Red, 18 and A White 16. The change began paying off immediately as games with more even scores were played.
At a scheduled League meeting, our CSHL officials were discussed. The CSHL Referees Association was continuing to grow and improve, however a need for more was always present per George Flynn, Assistant Referee-in-Chief and CSHL A/B assigner. This season saw 852 combined regular season and playoff games (1,704 assignments) with only 10 games where only one referee showed up and three of those games were due to clerical error. This was a vast improvement over last season and the level of the A/B refs drastically increased due to mandatory clinics and required meetings. Tim Murphy, Referee-in-Chief, addressed the matter of abuse to officials while on the ice, but also in the parking lots, and/or on the way back to the dressing room. It was difficult to retain good officials due to the abuse and this became an issue with program heads. Therefore, programs were instructed to offer a safe environment for refs and deal in a stern fashion with those people who were guilty of such abuse.
Profanity in the games was getting out of hand and wasn't limited to the older groups. The CSHL amended the USA Hockey Standing Rule that gave a player a ten-minute misconduct for swearing to now also include a one-game suspension.
The Winterhurst USA team made it to the Pee Wee Nationals in Amherst, New York in April of l987. While losing two games (one to Alaska and Michigan) and tying Chicago, they represented our area well.
In an effort to develop more girls' hockey and promote it to the level of players achieving college scholarships, the Michigan Capital Pee Wee girls' team came to play. The Pee Wee teams they met over one weekend were Parma, Rocky River and Winterhurst. Detroit's Lincoln Park rink was their home ice. It was a fun weekend and if schedules permit, a return visit was arranged.
Rules Interpretation meetings were strongly encouraged on a program basis. Many parents of younger age players (as well as older players) did not know the rules, but were the first to criticize a newer ref if they thought a call was incorrect. Tim Murphy, Referee-in-Chief, conducted these meetings for interested programs.
The CSHL Constitution and By-laws were revised thanks to Kent Crouch, Bill Joy, Marianne Millican and Gil Ratcliffe.
Participation continued to grow as 106 teams scheduled.
On Sept. 27, l987 the Edmonton Oilers, featuring Wayne Gretzky & the Minnesota North Stars, played a pre-season game at the Richfield Coliseum. It served as a fund-raiser since the programs were able to retain part of the ticket price of tickets sold. The programs who took part in the promotion shared over $3,000. In addition, two CSHL Mite teams put on a mini-game exhibition between the periods which was enjoyed by the fans.
A lot of Midget teams were short players to make up a team. Allowing Bantams to play on two teams would resolve the problem. It was so moved that any combination of 14 players, Bantam and Midget, would comprise a Midget roster and allow the Bantam to dual-roster. This was done solely to save a division and under no circumstances would be expanded to other divisions.
The B secretary found it necessary to resign that position. It was decided to divide those duties between George Flynn, assistant Ref-in-Chief and Assigner, and Betty Ann Maulorico, League secretary-treasurer and eliminate the third office.
League meetings were held at Garfield City Hall on an established date each month. The location was centrally located from all directions and eliminated looking for a location each month.
Home ice advantage for the playoffs failed miserably due to the last-minute scheduling of games so the format went back to the old way -- different playoff locations.
Another division was established in AHAUS. The Mini Mite Division, ages 7 and under, were now officially called Mini Mites. This division was designed to be a learning experience and would adhere to an informal schedule.
The two-minute clock used for Mite B was expanded to include the Squirt B division. Every player must play at least one time per period.
At the August l988 annual meeting, the Board of Directors strongly recommended the CSHL adopt a split season for l988-89. A seed season would be scheduled on Oct. 10 & 11 and all teams would play a determined number of games that did not count for standings. The regular season would schedule Nov. 21 & 22. Play would begin on December 1 and end on February 17. Playoffs must take place on Feb.20 & 21 to be done by States beginning on Feb. 26-28. While this recommendation failed last season by the heads of programs, they approved it this season. They were looking forward to this new idea of a more fair way to place teams.
The Mite teams from Parma Hts. and Rocky River played between periods at the USA/USSR Olympic hockey game at the Coliseum on Dec. 10th, 1987.
A memo from AHAUS advised that any team registered with them (thus automatically insured with them) would not be permitted to play any team that was not registered AHAUS without written approval from the registrar. Doing so would negate all insurance coverage.
City championships became a little more personal -- individual awards now included the player's name in addition to division, etc. Banners replaced team trophies, and could be displayed in home rinks and names of players could be added.
Based on how well the League did with the l986 Pee Wee National Tournament, it was decided to again bid for a national tournament. In June l988 the secretary, Betty Ann Maulorico, personally took the bid for the l989 Pee Wee Tier II Nationals to the annual meeting in Colorado Springs.
AHAUS becomes USA Hockey
121 teams scheduled this season.
The national organization that governs amateur hockey in the United States changed its official name from AHAUS to USA Hockey. The skater logo remained, but the letters were replaced by "USA Hockey."
A second change made was dropping the names of the age divisions and just using the ages as the classifications. This meant that the Mites were no longer called Mites, but 9 or under, the Squirts called 11 or under, the Pee Wees called 13 or under, Bantams called 15 or under, the Midgets called 17 or under and Juniors now called 19 or under.
The pre-season experiment of the split season was a tremendous success with teams playing six games each. They had the option to play higher or lower in an effort to make a good judgment. There were 300 pre-season games played.
The AA division had the usual top four teams compete in the city playoffs in February l989. However, in lieu of playoffs for the Mite, Squirts, Pee Wee and Bantam A divisions, the League advertised "year end tournaments" for any interested team. They took place the first and second weekends in March at seven rinks throughout the League. The rationale behind this change was that with just the top four teams eligible for playoffs, the season just stopped for all other teams. This would allow those who chose to participate in more games and a way to stretch the season. Winning teams at the four divisions received plaques. The different format was very well received and saw teams enjoying a tournament atmosphere that perhaps would not have.
The USA HOCKEY 13 -Or-Under Tier II NATIONALS Tournament was awarded to the CSHL and took place on March 31, April 1 -2, 1989 at the Mentor Civic Center in Mentor. Mt. Lebanon Pee Wee AA (a CSHL scheduled team) was selected to be the host team. Another CSHL team from the North Olmsted Hockey Club was the Mid Am District entry. The other six entries were: Concord, New Hampshire, Woburn, Massachusetts, Glenview, Illinois, Oswego, New York, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Seattle Washington. Sault Ste. Marie won the championship defeating Glenview 5-1. It was the second Nationals tournament to be hosted by the CSHL and was again a resounding success. The first one took place on the west side of Cleveland in l986. With these Nationals taking place on the east side, many people became new fans to the sport of youth hockey.
118 teams scheduled this season.
Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux came to town in an exhibition NHL game between the L. A. Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins on Sept. 15, 1989 and almost the entire CSHL were there to cheer them on. This was another exciting night for youth hockey players. The highest price ticket was $ l9.50 and the programs got $ 1.50 back for each one sold. The Euclid and Parma Mites played between periods. The little players were told by the Coliseum management that they may find themselves in the proximity of Kings and Penguins players while they were all in the basement locker rooms, but that was not the best time for the signing of autographs, etc. However, it's doubtful that those players could refuse their smallest, smiling fans!
It was announced that since hockey has one of the highest record of injuries, USA Hockey broadened its catastrophic and liability coverage for players, coaches, referees, governing bodies and those who participated in a sanctioned USA Hockey event. The necessary fees were included in the proper team registrations paid to USA Hockey and more attention needed to be given to this aspect of the game. It was suggested that heads of programs actually begin to read all contracts to see what liability they face by utilizing any facility.
Fan conduct at games was in need of improvement. For this reason, an announcement was printed on the back of each game sheet and read prior to the game. It said that referees or rink personnel had the authority to eject a person whose conduct was unbecoming and unsuitable for a youth sporting event.
Shortage of referees became a major concern. Due to the increasing number of teams and games, a type of "referees wanted" campaign began with ads appearing in the newspapers and advertisements in the various schools.
The duties of assigning the Pee Wee level was changed from the CIHOA to George Flynn.
City playoffs in the A division were resumed. Instead of playoffs last season, a "year end tournament" took place. While it seemed a successful undertaking, it was viewed to be only a one year "good idea."
The CSHL would celebrate its 20th anniversary next season 1990-91. To celebrate this momentous occasion, there would a dinner dance on Saturday October 27, 1990 at the Brookridge Party Center. Anyone involved in the League could attend. Tickets were $ 35 per person and included a buffet meal, open bar, music and an anniversary memento.
20th Anniversary Season
This season was the 20th anniversary of the League. 119 teams from 18 scheduling programs scheduled and 1758 players registered with USA Hockey. The growth from seven teams to 119 in 20 years was a source of pride to all those who were instrumental in the development and continuation of the League. It was planned for players to wear a commemorative patch on their jerseys denoting the special season, but due to USA Hockey restrictions, only a helmet sticker was allowed.
George Flynn, Assistant Referee-in-Chief, was named the new 1990-1991 Referee-in-Chief replacing Tim Murphy who elected not to re-seek this position. George continued his duties as assigner of all games through Pee Wees. The CIHOA assigned the Bantam and Midget divisions.
With so many teams, it was decided to have a seeding tournament for placement for only the teams that were unsure where to place themselves, instead of the usual pre-season where all teams took part. By having this tournament instead of a six game preseason, it added one entire month to the length of regular season. This worked out well and only 75 teams played 3 games instead of 119 playing six.
The increase in number of teams also brought an increase of player movement from program to program. There was a residency rule to cover this, however players would start with new programs before returning equipment or still owing money to the previous one. A financial satisfaction rule was established that no program could add a player to a team until both of these responsibilities were satisfied and a release signed. Failure to obey this rule would result in all games forfeited in which the player participated.
The Mid Am District meeting was held on Sept. 22, 1990 at the Cleveland Marriott. At the June USA Hockey National meeting, it was ruled that the format for state tournaments will include only two divisions, AA and Open. Only the Pee Wee through Midget open teams would advance. This eliminated all the different tiers that had become popular, especially at the Mite and Squirt levels.
A Russian minor Pee Wee team competed in a Mentor tournament the weekend of Oct. 12-14, l990. It was the youngest team ever to travel from Russia. The Russian embassy flew the minor Pee Wee team from Leningrad to New York City. Continental Airlines agreed to fly them from there to Mentor at a cost of over $5,000 as part of the sponsorship of the tournament. The boys were timid and scared when they arrived, and left happy and excited with their new found friends and experience. The entire hockey community showed great support -- in money, time and effort. Games were played to standing room only and crowds and donations of all types were made to the players. A shopping mall was a new experience for the visitors and this generosity ensured them a great shopping day. It also was a special experience for the CSHL players who competed against them.
The junior varsity teams that played games with CSHL Midget teams were not members of USA Hockey and therefore not allowed to play them. This was due to the more strict insurance regulations set forth by the national office. To be able to do so, the JV teams had to join or get written permission from the Mid Am Sub-registrar. This affected St. Ed's, St. Ignatius and Trinity.
The planned 20th anniversary dinner dance scheduled for Oct. 27, l990 was canceled due to lack of interest/poor ticket sales. As a result, deposits totaling over $ 2,000 were lost.
131 teams scheduled this season.
The Dayton Midget team, though not a CSHL member program, was permitted to schedule due to the season's small number of Midget teams.
The Lorain County Hockey Association joined the League. The Columbus Capitals (Columbus Amateur Hockey Association/CAHA) rejoined this season. They had originally joined in 1978-79 and were absent for a few seasons.
Bay Hockey, a member since l974, found it necessary to disband the organization. They had been unsuccessful in efforts to recruit Mite and Squirt players and not having their own local ice rink contributed to their decision.
The Mentor Hockey Association was awarded the l992 USA Hockey Tier II Pee Wee (13 or under) Nationals to be played on April 2-5, l992 at the Mentor Civic Arena. Two CSHL teams participated. Mentor's Team Cleveland was the host team and Shaker represented the Mid Am District. Other teams were Oswego, New York, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Creve Coeur, Missouri, Cranston, Massachusetts, Woburn, Massachusetts and Seattle, Washington. The championship went to Creve Coeur, Missouri.
The USA Hockey l991-1993 rule changes included two which were hoped to significantly cut down on penalties:
1) Any player, Midget and under, receiving five penalties in a game receives an automatic Game Misconduct penalty plus the appropriate additional suspension.
2) Any coach, Midget and under, will be suspended from his next game if his team receives 15 or more penalties in a game.
There was no appeal on these two rules.
With the number of teams now reaching 131, the Board of Directors implemented a change for the divisions. The AA and A remained the same. The B division will exist in the Mites as we know it - the two minute clock, limited amount of games and no standings or playoffs. To make things fair and equal for the not-so skilled players, the two minute clock was removed from the B Squirts, and standings and playoffs were added for the Pee Wees. Names of some divisions were also modified. Hereafter, they would be called: AA, A Red (previous A) and A Blue (previous B). The Mite B stayed the same.
As last season, only teams not sure where to place needed to play a pre-season scheduled, but with only four games this time. Problems arose for a strong A Red team if should remain there, or move up to AA. The final decision was made by the Board of Directors. If a team proved far too strong for A Red, they were moved up, and also if were losing every game by a wide margin, were placed down to A Blue. As with any new program, it has to undergo a test season, and there were minimal wrong decisions.
The playoffs were changed to a two out of three format instead of single elimination and 73 playoff games took place. Participating teams were responsible for one of the series' games and if a third game necessary, the League paid the cost. The referee assigning, however, for last minute games created a nightmare for the assigner, George Flynn.
Renaming the Squirt and Pee Wee levels along with adding playoffs made those players feel they were more a part of the League and overall, it worked out very well.
Parma Hts. Hockey (Hugh J. Coyle, Director) announced they had begun a house league for young players who choose not to play Mite B. Teams were ages 4-7 and 7-9. Any programs with interest at this entry level were invited to join them to organize some games.
An NHL exhibition took place at the Richfield Coliseum on Sept. 15, l99l between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins. The Mites from Parma Hts. and the Cleveland Skating Club played between the periods.
A new pro hockey team, the Cleveland Lumberjacks appeared on the scene. They were very happy to have a youth hockey group behind them and wanted to have special program nights with discounted prices. It was a little tough while at the Coliseum, but once they got into Gateway, action and participation picked up.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association relaxed rules for all high school sports, including ice hockey that did impact the Midget division. A high school athlete could play on an independent team prior to and after the school season, but no team may have more than 50 percent of the members of the team playing that sport at any given time from any particular high school on one team. OHSAA's in-season calendar for hockey runs from November 11 to the beginning of the state tournament. High school coaches were prohibited from coaching a team from his school, but allowed to participate with other schools.
140 teams scheduled this season.
Youngstown Youth Hockey joined the League.
The Bowling Green and Cincinnati Midgets were approved for single membership this season while Parma and Parma Hts. joined forces for the Twin City Stars Midget team. These two moves guaranteed a viable Midget division. No matter how thin the numbers, steps were always taken to ensure enough teams to schedule rather than have to abolish that division for any season.
There were changes in the CSHL By-Laws concerning the League governing body. Following Roberts Rules of Order, the matter was properly presented; the By-Laws amended to effect the change, and then voted on by the membership.
Instead of voting for a president, vice-president, and Board of Directors, serving two-year terms, it was changed to one Board of Directors. These eight people were elected and they would then elect a Commissioner from among themselves. This person would be empowered by the Board to act on behalf of the Board in matters requiring an immediate decision where time did not permit the calling of an emergency meeting. He would speak for the League, cast a vote only in case of a tie, and act prudent in all matters. The term of office was one year and the term for directors remained at two years. The appointed assigner of games and the secretary-treasurer (who are not voting members) would then constitute the ten-person governing body.
Due to more out of town teams participating in playoffs and creating some hard to resolve game times, a new rule was established. It stated that all playoff games shall be played in Cleveland and no game may start before 8:00 am.
The constant recruiting of players was continually discussed and what could be done to prevent it. The answer, of course, was nothing as long as programs were considered open and not required to only permit city residents. October 1st was the last day any player could be approached by another program and the new USA Hockey Tampering Rule which carried a one-year suspension did thwart it somewhat.
Bill Haneberg, the CIHOA assigner of CSHL Bantam and Midget games moved out of state and those duties were now assumed by Ken Goss.
The Cleveland Indians hosted a Youth Hockey Day at Cleveland Stadium on September 20, 1993 playing the Chicago White Sox. The day consisted of special events for the teams and coaches along with free promotional items and scoreboard recognition. Discounted tickets brought the price down to $ 6.50 for reserved seats.
160 teams scheduled this season.
The above figure included the Steel City Bantams (Pittsburgh), the Bowling Green Midgets and two Cincinnati Midget teams. The Midget Division had 12 teams participating which was unusual for that level, and the players loved the road trips. For that division's scheduling, special attention was given the rotation formula. It was used once for them, and then repeated for the local programs. This assured the better times and also utilized holiday 3-day weekends, to adapt to the distance and travel time. Also, the Ohio Women’s' Hockey Association, which included the Ohio Midget Flames, had been scheduling their all girls’ teams versus the boys' teams. The Midgets scheduled in the Bantam A division and the Pee Wees in the Pee Wee A division. They felt this was invaluable training that helped in various women's tournaments. They were welcome anytime to compete/return to the CSHL as a non-scheduling affiliate program.
USA Hockey again changed the age group classification (from prior l985-86 change):
Junior 19 and under
Midgets 17 and under
Bantam 14 and under
Pee Wee 12 and under
Squirts 10 and under
Mites 8 and under
While not all players were immediately affected, all divisions experienced a six- month shift. The cut-off date was changed to a June 30th birthday.
The CSHL hit the airwaves this season! A talk show on WERE-AM 1300 Sunday nights from 7-9 pm expressed an interest to profile our hockey teams weekly in conjunction with the Lumberjacks and initiated by Bob Whidden. The show was fashioned as a two-hour sports call-in broadcast strictly for listeners 14 and under and called "Sports Talk for Kids" If a team did well, or did something noteworthy, both on and off the ice, the program head could submit it as Team of the Week. Tom Sudow, the show host would call the coach approximately 7:45 pm on Sunday, and the coach would be on the air about 10-12 minutes. The segment was referred to as the "Hockey Spot" and lots of CSHL teams tuned in. Eighteen different teams were profiled this season and players enjoyed hearing their names on the air as well as recognition for doing well. On March 30, all teams profiled, along with the playoff champions, got to see the Jacks play the Atlanta Knights at the Richfield Coliseum at a minimal cost. The Hockey Spot enjoyed a two year run.
The Mid Am District meeting was held in Columbus on August 28, 1993 and the CSHL chartered a bus to encourage a larger turnout at no cost to the riders. The idea didn't bolster attendance too much; however, the lively conversation and exchange of different ideas on the trip did prove worthwhile.
165 teams scheduled this season.
The League was poised for new and different ideas based on the high projection of numbers, especially at the Squirt (47) and Pee Wee (40) levels. It was thought best to have a fourth level in addition to AA, A Red and A Blue. Even though the divisions were re-named for l991-92 to eliminate using 'B', everyone was so used to it, it eventually moved back into the vocabulary.
Levels were now referred to as AA, A, B and the 4th was called 'Open' for teams seeking the highest level of competition. There were now 14 levels of play offered by the League to the players:
Mite AA Squirt AA Open Pee Wee AA Open Bantam AA
Mite A Squirt AA Pee Wee AA Bantam A
Mite B Squirt A Pee Wee A
Squirt B Pee Wee B Midget
Only the Squirt and Pee Wee levels had this fourth level which prompted a significant ruling for the playoffs. To eliminate the problems of teams scheduling in a level they didn't belong, in order to make the 13 playoffs (none at Mite B), a program must have a team playing at all CSHL levels above that team.
George Flynn became the exclusive assigner for all CSHL divisions.
A meeting was held the night before Saturday regular season scheduling. This was in an effort to determine team placement and resolve this time consuming matter that took place on Saturday.
A new committee, named The Review Board, was established. The name was changed the very next season to The Review Committee so as not to be confused with the Board of Directors. Its function was to serve as auxiliary to the League in expediting discipline and fan problems in all aspects of the game. Concerns from players, coaches and officials were gladly welcomed by Bill Tausz, Chairman.
175 teams scheduled this season.
This was the 25th Silver Anniversary of the League. Along with enjoying a rapid growth, the League had become a model of sorts with many out-of-the area teams becoming League members. Players were given commemorative jersey patches.
Anything experiencing rapid growth also experiences rapid growing pains. One of which was the referee growth which did not keep pace with team growth. This created problems between fans and officials, and became a major concern of Commissioner Morrow and the Board of Directors. They felt that three areas needed to improve and issued a mandate to the programs and the League as a whole, to swiftly take necessary steps to improve. The areas were:
1) Curb fan and parent abuses at lower levels, the worst being Squirt AA Open and Mite AA.
2) Stop fans and parents from coming onto the ice and blocking referee paths to their dressing room.
3) Stop threatening lawsuits when someone doesn't get their way or when their child gets checked hard into the boards.
A USA Hockey new rule effective this season mandated all teams, Mite through High School, must have at least one coach present on the bench at the start of the game who has successfully completed the Initiation/Associate level of training. Responsibility for the enactment of this requirement was the individual's association.
Hosting the Nationals had been so successful in 1989 and 1992, it was decided to repeat the event on April 11-14, 1996 with the 12 and under (Pee Wee) Tier II at Mentor. "Team Cleveland" was put together to play from the end of August to the beginning of regular season when players would play with their program teams. When the CSHL season ended, players would then go back to Team Cleveland with a good month and a half to prepare for the April event. An article in the Standing Rules had to be amended to allow this to happen. Participating in various tournaments would give them enough games to qualify. Also, allowing dual play would increase the willingness of the players who were steadfast in loyalty to their program teams. It was believed that an excellent, competitive team could be selected from the large Pee Wee division. Pee Wee coaches were asked to submit names of their players and six hundred invitations were sent informing of the open try-outs. It was thought this selection process would be viewed favorably and many programs could boast about having a player on this special tournament team. However, it was a long hard year. A competitive team was put together and won one game defeating Providence, Rhode Island 10-2 while losing to Ithaca, NY 2-1, Chicago 6-5 and the Livonia, Michigan team 7-2, who went on to win the Nationals. Spectators were unanimous in that Livonia, Michigan was probably the best coached team they'd ever seen. Overall, Team Cleveland didn't get a whole lot of support from the CSHL and it was both surprising and discouraging that a lot of coaches who had players on the team didn't even come to cheer them on. Coaches were Pat Schuette and Mike Szymanski along with Bill Morrow. A huge storm hit on Friday night of the tournament. Mostly all of Mentor lost power including the hotel where the visiting teams were staying. All the guests had to be moved to other hotels. Luckily the ice rink never lost power and the tournament wasn't interrupted.
Erie, Pennsylvania, a long time member program, opted to participate in a different program and departed the CSHL after 14 years.
Michigan's number one "Hockey Weekly Magazine" expressed an interest in expanding the publication to include Ohio. For $ 150 a page per issue, the CSHL page would feature statistics, standings, meeting notices, tournament advertising, and/or any other information submitted by the teams or programs. Several programs had already advertised in it for tournaments with great response. Now with technology allowing faster communication than in the past, it seemed to be beneficial. By entering into this relationship, it was hoped to increase the overall awareness and interest in the CSHL, which in turn could stimulate growth in our programs, investment in facilities and the development of a broader base of involvement from local businesses, clubs and associations. In addition, the coverage would keep teams and parents better informed. The subscription rate was $ 28.00 for 30 issues. It was decided the League would test the idea for a few months.
League Commissioner Bill Morrow did not seek re-election as President of the Mid Am District for the l996-l997 season. Bill had served for eight years as its presiding officer and was responsible for many innovative ideas that moved the district forward. Increased business commitments and responsibilities prompted Bill’s decision but he continued his involvement as Commissioner.
187 teams scheduled this season.
The Mid Am District Risk Manager spoke at the August Heads of Program meeting concerning liability, medical and catastrophic coverage. With the huge number of players in youth hockey, more information on this subject was needed. Rink surveys were conducted by him upon request. Recommendations were given to the facility to increase safety and to prevent potential liability issues that could conceivably arise in the future.
The Cleveland Lumberjacks continued their efforts to support youth hockey and also the new interest in rollerblade hockey. In November of l996, they sponsored a fun evening of hockey with the Lumberjacks, Cleveland Barons and the Cleveland Crusaders hailing it as Heritage Night against the Quebec Rafales at Gund Arena. Discount tickets and promotional items for all CSHL members and their families attracted a large crowd.
Fan conduct back in the l989-90 season necessitated an announcement being read before all games concerning suitable conduct. This procedure was not always followed and sportsmanlike conduct continued in need of improvement. For that reason, a Fan Abuse Policy was adopted and became a standing rule of the CSHL. It was printed in the Standing Rules' booklet all coaches and heads of programs received at scheduling and remains in the 2005-2006 issue. It enables the League to exercise a better system of regulation to censure or suspend offenders.
A new ice rink was under construction in Geauga County and was hoped to be completed mid-August l997. It would be home to Geauga Youth Hockey but exactly what teams would be decided at a later date.
Background checks for coaches and members of boards of directors were being looked at by Mid Am District. Other programs who have already adopted the system were claiming success with it. While Mid Am was anxious to adopt the screening process, it continued to gather more information.
185 teams scheduled this season. This included 46 multiples, which were two programs teams at the same level
The Gilmour Youth Hockey Association joined the League. It was the first new member in five years and would skate out of the Gilmour Academy rink.
Background checks became mandatory by the Mid Am District for coaches, assistant coaches, managers, trainers, referees and board members. Target date for completion was 12/31/98.
The CSHL decided to discontinue its association with Michigan Hockey Weekly that took place for the l996-l997 season for two significant reasons. The cost wasn't worth the exposure that was realized by only the few teams that bothered to take the time to submit material. Also due to the mailing time, when issues were received the standings were no longer accurate. The issue of establishing a CSHL website had long been discussed and the Board of Directors reached a decision to have one operational in place for next 1998-1999 season. It would provide accurate standings and distribute all kinds of information to the hockey community.
Due to current League structure, many programs fielded more than one team at a level. These 46 multiple teams were designated program # 1 & # 2 but created massive confusion when coaches failed to indicate the proper number on the score sheet. It was decided that a better way for team identification would be using the coaches' names, and it was done that way the next season. League standings had always been compiled by hand by Secretary Betty Ann Maulorico. It had become a difficult and overwhelming task due to volume of games and the insufficient information on the score sheets. A decision was made to use the services of an official statistician this season for the 1,814 League games scheduled.
The League was imposing surcharges on both early and late start times of games and also on outlying locations such as Auburn/Geauga, Elyria, the Gund and Oberlin. These "premium games" paid an additional fee to referees who had only a single game assignment. The action was initiated in an effort to encourage better time slots and double header games at scheduling. These charges were partially eliminated for the 2004-2005 season and totally for the 2005-2006 season.
For the 1997-98 and l998-99 seasons, USA Hockey put a special emphasis on eliminating unnecessary violence. Zero tolerance went into effect with a rule that applied to players, coaches and team officials.
The SELECT LEAGUE RULE. The movement or recruitment of players from one program to another was discouraged. The League encourages member programs to develop the hockey skills of players in their own organizations rather than seek them from other programs. In order to have the League competition as equitable as possible and to reward programs for developing talent, a Select Team Rule was added to the Standing Rules. It would have more than three players on the roster that were on different teams during the previous winter season. This definition only applied to Mite through Bantam AA teams and excluded all A and B divisions as well as Midgets. A "Select Team" could schedule with the CSHL but they would be ineligible to win the division or to participate in the end of the season playoffs. If they chose to schedule with the CSHL their games counted in the standings. This season seven out of 182 scheduled teams were "Select".
Commissioner Bill Morrow had to re-locate because of business. He left the area in December l997 and was replaced by Jon Aber, former Head of Program for Cleveland Hts. Bill had been involved with the Mentor program for over 25 years while also serving the CSHL as commissioner for one period of two years and one period for six years. These eight years qualified him as the longest elected official involved with the administration of the CSHL. This long length of elected service to the League demonstrated his extreme popularity.
182 teams scheduled this season including 42 multiples.
The CSHL launched its website, www.cshlhockey.org, on July 14, l998. The website included schedules, contact information, etc. A stats program was purchased for standings to take effect the l999-2000 season and a Webmaster was obtained. Changes and enhancements were continually made that improved the usefulness of the site for administrators and members.
The League office acquired an e-mail address. It requested that all communication, meeting notices, correspondence, etc., flow through e-mail and recommended every program get one.
Two new programs joined the League. The Canton-Akron Hockey Association and the Geauga Youth Hockey Association. Canton-Akron's home rink was the Center Ice Sports Complex located in Jackson Township in Stark County. Home rink for Geauga was the new Auburn Ice Palace in Auburn. Ohio.
The playoffs were expanded to the top eight finishers instead of usual four. The rule stating that a team needed to have teams above them at all levels to be eligible was reconsidered. The rule was amended so that with any set of circumstances, if a team didn't have a team above it and finished five through eight in the standings, that team WAS eligible for playoffs. Eighty-six teams competed in 75 playoff games held at Garfield and Greenbrier rinks.
The League found it necessary to forfeit games that were not changed in accordance with the policy on game changes. Fines were charged in an effort to lessen the dilemma that created problems due to lack of prudent actions on the part of coaches or programs.
Mite C teams were beginning to organize at various rinks and interested coaches met at a scheduling meeting in early December. Mite C were programs that already had a Mite B.
For the first time ever, it was necessary to cancel a League game due to no available referees. A shortage was threatening for two reasons: very few weekday but too many weekend games and the addition of more programs/rinks. During the January and February months, there were over 65 games on a given Sunday. The matter was given priority attention and improved by programs making a concerted effort to schedule back-to-back games. Mike Cordish, Head of Program for Garfield Hockey led the way in showing how to schedule double headers and holds the record to this day.
Lorain County hosted the first annual division play down that ran mid-February through the first week in March. It was free to CSHL teams, players, coaches and managers. The hope was that gate admission and concessions would pay for the tournament. Teams finishing .500 or below in the League and all teams not making the CSHL playoffs (top 8 teams) were automatically entered. It was a great chance for teams in the lower half of the standings to be part of an event such as this.
MidAm issued a report concerning the screening process. At the time of the report before the 12/31/98 deadline, 600 applications of coaches and managers had been processed and 16 had to step down. That was considered a large number. Mid Am also was talking about 100% screening again which met with much objection. It was believed that only new members of an organization have to go through the process and those that have already done so shouldn't have to repeat.
185 teams scheduled this season including 42 multiples. 503 preseason and 1648 regular season games were played for a total of 2,151.
George Flynn, CSHL assigner and Referee-in-Chief, attended a Lake Placid referee training seminar. With 52 nationwide instructors attending, George received the Most Outstanding Participant Award.
The 20-team Bantam division this year was divided into a red and blue division, with one bracket consisting of relatively stronger teams and the other of relatively weaker ones. Reason being players, coaches and parents had a more enjoyable overall experience if teams were able to play more games against comparably talented teams rather than having to play teams that were significantly better or worse. A Bantam B division was thought possible, however, only four teams showed interest and this was not enough to have a viable division.
The eight-team playoff format went well and would be used next season. There was diverse representation from the majority of the member programs across all levels and divisions.
Electronic USA Hockey Registration was here to stay and the process had been greatly simplified with Individual Membership Registrations (IMRs) no longer needed. Only certified Team Membership Applications (TMAs) and certified Team Rosters were needed. Only four CSHL programs did not comply and they were encouraged to familiarize themselves with the system. Long time MidAm Associate Registrar for Ohio, Cathy Fievet, was thrilled with the new technology. Since the early 90's Cathy had spent years of manually processing mountains of registration paperwork.
The Website really took off! As of February 2000 there had been so much traffic on it that it buried the current server and the League had to move the standings to a different server company and be upgraded for next season. The bad news was the amount of e-mail complaints coming from parents since it was now so easy to contact the League. They were advised they must go through their Head of Program to resolve such complaints, and if not successful, only then would the League get involved.
186 teams scheduled including 38 multiples.
Erie Youth Hockey was re-admitted into the League after their departure in l995.
After more than 30 years, Betty Ann Maulorico stepped down as League secretary-treasurer. She had served with 10 different commissioners throughout those years and watched the League grow from its infancy to the largest member in the MidAm District. Terry Horonzy became the new secretary while Betty Ann remained as the treasurer.
Commissioner Jon Aber announced his election to the position of MidAm District Director for USA Hockey. He subsequently resigned as League Commissioner to focus on his MidAm duties but continued to attend CSHL meetings and stay informed on local issues. The now-vacant position of Commissioner was filled by Board member Bernie Matis.
The Board of Directors spent many hours discussing problems and League matters and worked toward solutions or formulating policies. Board members were assigned to specific areas which streamlined the process. If programs heads had a specific concern they started with the Board Member responsible for that area, reducing ineffective duplicate communications. Better information coordination between the Board, Program Heads and Coaches was the primary goal.
The group known as the Cleveland Youth Hockey Association was identified in years past by the nickname the "Americans." That name was already used in their AAA League so they received permission from the Cleveland Lumberjacks to use the name "Jacks." It had no affiliation with the pro team, the Junior B Jacks or the before-and-after high school teams known as the Junior Jacks.
USA Hockey expanded the rules on coaching certification. Beginning this year all head and assistant coaches, had to complete the required clinic levels: Mites and Squirts, IP and Associate; for House Peewee, Bantam and Midget, Associate; for Tier II Peewee, Bantam and Associate and Intermediate. The terminology for the four levels of achievement were changed to Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4, Level 4 being the Masters level.
Mid Am began following the screening policies of several police departments and school districts where screening of an individual was done only once or at most repeated every 10 years. This was met with much approval after rumors circulated they might be done annually.
This year there were 88 teams in the playoffs. The structure was changed from lowest seed always playing highest seed to a more simplerladder structure. Example, winner of 1 vs. 8 played winner of 4 vs. 5, winner of 2 vs. 7 played winner of 3 vs. 6. There was confusion about eligibility of teams which necessitated clarification. If a team was "A" or "B" without teams at all levels above, they were ineligible for playoffs if finished 1-4 in final standings. They were eligible if finished 5-8.
In addition, if a team as defined above finished first in the division, they were not declared Division Champions and did not receive the banner. The next team below them who was eligible moved up and was declared the Division Champions and won the banner. This season there were three such teams.
Game misconduct lists were distributed periodically. At the January 2001 meetings especially worrisome were the number of Mite and Squirt game misconduct's involving not only players, but coaches and parents. The Heads of Programs were made aware of the suspensions so they could address the issues.
An important housekeeping rule was put into effect. The "No game changes after December 1st" rule. It was instituted to eliminate the abuses of game change after game change that occurred. Any request of a waiver of this rule could be submitted by only the Head of Program and was approved only in the rarest circumstances. Unless the game change was allowed, teams that didn't show for games in the belief they could just "play it later" faced forfeits and fines.
186 teams scheduled this season.
Regarding playoff ineligible teams - it was thought to consider some provision in the rules so that teams playing A or B levels without teams from their program all levels above them could participate in the playoffs and even win their division. The so-call "Sandbag Rule" was enacted in years past to address the problem of teams playing down only to win games and/or banners. The addition of the new playing levels and limits on second-year players had created more equitable and competitive divisions. If teams were obviously in the correct division level, based on game results and ability of players, those teams should not be penalized because their program can only field one or two teams in the division. Not all programs are geographically or demographically able to grow to the size to sustain a team at each division level. Advantages and disadvantages of the idea were debated. It was decided to maintain the status quo for the upcoming (2002-2003) season and make any needed adjustments the following season.
Parma Heights Hockey officially changed its name to the Strongsville Youth Hockey Club and would be operating out of the Ice Land USA ice facility in Strongsville. This move was necessary because Greenbrier, their former home ice rink, closed its doors.
The Association Coaching and Education (ACE) program was introduced by USA Hockey at the Mid Am meeting in June of 2001, and Tim Murphy was named coordinator for the MidAm District. Its primary objective was designated to provide a critical link for administrative and coaching functions that would deliver the programs, and implement the objectives taught in the Coaching Education Programs (CEP). Each program was to select an ACE coordinator to represent its own organization. Their focus was to develop new coaches and provide continuing education for current coaches. This would be in addition to, and would not replace, the requirement of attending coaching level clinics (IP, Associate, Intermediate and Masters). By the end of the first three years, the program should be well in place.
Every USA Hockey association was entitled to a free website through USA Hockey. If the programs didn't already one, they would be shown how to set one up. If they already did have one, they could learn how to link it to USA Hockey.
The Standing Rules, aka bible of the League, underwent major or minor revisions annually after several meetings of the Rules Committee reviewed them. One rule prohibiting players from being on more than one CSHL roster was amended at the request of the Ohio Womens' Flames. They were a CSHL associate member organization, and female players roistering on both a CSHL league team and the Flames would be in violation of this rule. The rule was revised to allow dual play "with Board approval."
Another significant change concerned the increase in playing levels within divisions and to impose limits on the number of 2nd year players at certain levels. The suggested levels and limits were: AA major, no limit; AA minor, no more than 10 2nd year players; A major, no more than 8 2nd year players; A minor, no more than 6 2nd year players; and B, no limit. A second-year player was one that was in the last year of eligibility in that division. These changes along with others were approved for the 2002-2003 season.
Three members of The American Hockey League Barons organization attended a meeting and discussed creating a new relationship with CSHL programs. Ticket sales and prices, promotions, fundraising, player visits, clinics at local rinks and possible game ice for use by CSHL teams at Gund Arena were some of the topics addressed. They were interested in learning from the programs what they would like to see done differently from the ways things were done with the Lumberjacks, and also what worked well with that relationship.
Two local ice rinks were re-named. Auburn Ice Palace changed to the Arctic Freeze and Sportsplex was now Metroplex.
179 teams scheduled this season.
Erie would not field any teams in the CSHL this season after petitioning just two years ago for reinstatement into the League.
To easier identify teams, a team numbering system was implemented which proved extremely successful. Each team was assigned a unique number that identified them for all League purposes. Numbering began with 100 for Mites, 200 for Squirts, 300 for Pee Wees, 400 for Bantams and 500 for Midgets. It was immediately known what division a team was by the first digit in its number and then numbered as to how many teams in that division.
The ever-growing amount of expenditures forced by USA Hockey and MidAm on area programs was a genuine concern for some programs. Adding up registration and insurance fees, coaching clinic fees, ACE coordinator seminar fees, and screening fees, it accounted for nearly $ 200 in administrative costs per player before they even put on equipment or took the ice. The League had no control over this matter, but members were encouraged to contact the President of MidAm to voice their concerns.
The suggestion to incorporate a three-ref system at some games at Pee Wee levels and above to be used to train new referees was discussed but not recommended for two reasons:
1) The extra expense was not within this year's budget
2) It was believed the majority of refs who would be trained by this system would be inclined to work other, more prestigious/higher paying games than those of CSHL.
The suggestion was to be revisited next season.
The Cleveland Barons AHL team planned activities to mark the end of the hockey season. It began with "CSHL Champions Night" that provided all playoff teams with complimentary tickets to attend an upcoming game at Gund Arena. They also extended an invitation to all board members and programs heads to hold the next League meeting at Gund Arena and enjoy a Barons game that same evening, courtesy of the Barons.
The idea of a Premier League (originated by Ron Short) had been under general discussion for some time and a formal proposal was distributed among the member programs for consideration. It was summarized as creating a separate league under the administration of the CSHL or a designated administrative group determined by it. The proposal failed as written. A special committee of five program heads volunteered to assist Ron. They would explore ways to achieve the main goal of the "Premier League" which to improve the skills of the players by promoting better competition.
178 teams scheduled this season.
After 18 years of dedicated and untiring service to the CSHL, George Flynn's contract as Assigner/Scheduler and CSHL Referee-in-Chief was not renewed. George had put in a lot of systems and ideas over the years which now seem like standards. His assigning grew from the "B" referee auctions to a fully computerized system for assignments and payroll. It took many hours to learn the men, their abilities, their school and work situations, where they lived, when they were able to work and even sometimes who they wanted to work with. At times he was accused of being tough with restrictive rules, but that was done to be fair to all. He gave everyone an equal opportunity and tried to get those who wanted to, promoted to higher levels of pay. He was replaced by Bernie Matis.
In December the message board was full of grievances against the League regarding the number of no-show refs at many games. The attendance of officials to do a game is the core effort of the League. The assigner, Bernie Matis, was ill with medical problems which affected his performance to complete the daily tasks necessary. In the middle of January, he had to be relieved of the position. Steps were taken to ensure referees for the remaining six weeks of the season and playoffs by Director of Officiating, Barry Lulas. Barry implemented Arbiter, an on-line web based program that scheduled games and assigned referees. Games could be rescheduled and referee assignments verified through this system and be updated immediately anywhere someone had web access. Refs could request games and turn back assignments via this system.
A new proposal for the Select AA League (name changed from Premier League) was approved for the Squirt and Peewee divisions. Teams were comprised of CSHL players only. Participation was voluntary and players continued to play for their home programs as well. Games were inter-league between the teams and out-of-town teams were invited in. The schedules were devised so as not to conflict with the regular CSHL League schedule. All CSHL programs were encouraged to give the Select League their support.
This was a rule-change year for USA Hockey. Among them was that only USA Hockey registered coaches were allowed on the bench. They must now print and sign their name and print the number from their coaching level card on the score sheet.
The CSHL felt the need to conduct clinics for coaches unlike the required USA Hockey ones. These were mandatory for CSHL information and material and were held in October. The agenda included a referees' safety presentation, first aid clinic, rule review, relationships between coaches/parents/players/referees and more. There were divided opinions about the necessity/requirement of these clinics due to it being another demand required from coaches who already volunteered a great deal of time. The Coaches Committee rebutted that these essential topics covered could not be addressed in the 45 minutes prior to scheduling. Men were focused on scheduling and not speakers, and investing a few hours at this meeting would ultimately make their coaching job easier. The fact remained that 160 of l90 coaches found the time to attend. A referee meeting make-up session was arranged to fulfill this requirement for those yet to attend. A one hundred dollar fine was billed to programs for their coaches who failed to do so.
Team Placement - the current structure had a mixed record. The possibility of using something new in the form of a computer ranking of teams had been discussed. After hours of research by Joe Walkush and Commissioner Tim O'Shaughnessy, a proposal was made to restructure preseason and team placement for regular season effective the 2004-2005 season. A vote in favor of the proposal took place at the May 18, 2004 CSHL Annual Meeting.
A brief summary of the restructure:
Instead of the board placing teams based on spotty data generated by the preseason, team placement was based on objective criteria, e.g., a Relative Power Index (RPI) similar to that used by the NCAA to determine who makes the college hockey playoffs. This proposal restructured the preseason into an eight game ladder schedule and applied a RPI to the preseason results and placed teams according to their results. The preseason had to be increased to eight games to improve the predictive ability of the RPI however this proposal allowed the board to create equal-sized levels and made scheduling the regular season much easier and more predictable. Preseason requirements that had to be sent to the League secretary included:
1) number of teams at each level and five sheets of ice per team for preseason home
2) notification if any team was participating in preseason tournaments.
3) a non-binding, good faith estimate of where the team would fit into the division on the old scale.
The Board assigned and created a preseason schedule in which each team played at least eight games, generally four games vs. four teams immediately above in the rankings and four vs. four teams immediately below. In order to fit in eight games, preseason ran six weeks. At the end of the six weeks, team placements were announced on the message board. Petitions were heard to change team placement. The results of the preseason games were input into a recursive analysis program which ranked the teams according to the RPI. Coaches were given their schedule at the preseason scheduling meeting. It was quite different than 22 years ago when the now-retired scheduling formula was first designed. Technology had truly arrived for the CSHL!
The always exciting playoffs this season consisted of 72 games. Semi-finals were played at five different rinks. The 18 championship games took place at the dual rinks of Ice Land in Strongsville and it was very convenient to have just one location. This was the favorite time of the years for the teams as they had a chance to "shine" and perform in front of larger than usual crowds as well as their dedicated hometown fans. Playoffs were also a source of pride for the Board of Directors as it signified another successful season. As customary, banners were presented to division and playoff champions and individual awards went to both championship teams and runners-up. Tee-shirts proudly showing off their accomplishments were available.
The levels of play offered by the CSHL within the Divisions were re-structured:
1) AA level hockey is the highest level of travel/competitive
2) A - 1 is the second highest
3) A - 2 is the third highest
4) A - 3 / B - 1 is the fourth highest
5) B - 1 / B - 2 is the fifth highest
The CSHL Board may create additional levels if the number of teams justifies it.
At the August Head of Programs' meeting, the referees requested a rate increase. The last approved increase was five years ago and the cost of living and gasoline had increased significantly since then. Since budgets were already set for most programs and player fees in place, it was difficult to factor in increases now. The request was denied with timing being the reason for opposition. The subject would be reconsidered prior to setting budgets for the 2005-2006 season.
League coaching clinic co-coordinators Betty Ann Maulorico and Pam Rice saw a marked difference in which the annual east and west side USA Hockey Coaching Certification Clinics were organized. With all registration paperwork to USA Hockey now done electronically, this season it was expanded to include the clinics. This eliminated attendees from personally registering through a co-coordinator which had been the standard procedure since 1978. It had been an excellent way to meet the new coaches and give them a crash "CSHL 101" course.
The first scheduling using the RPI system took place. Data format wasn't perfect and not everyone had the computer program, Excel, but it was workable. The program heads received a master schedule following the usual game changes that also included the added games. Scores were to be reported the same as last year. No automated standings systems were in place yet. Results were then incorporated into the RPI program. For regular season scheduling, coaches sat opposite opponents and scheduled home and away games.
The RPI team placements system was a success in placing teams in correct competitive levels. More people were able to experience a playoff atmosphere and expressed their appreciation at many of the games. 68 teams participated and 18 of 19 programs received at least one banner. To recognize the new league structure, the playoff banner colors were changed. AA banners were now red, A were white and B were blue. The semi-finals were played at four different rinks, including Gilmour, where the finals took place.
Plans for 2005-06 were already underway. The Columbus Bluejackets, Fremont and Wooster were accepted as full participating members effective the 2005-2006 season.
This season the League would celebrate its 35th anniversary as the organizer of youth hockey in this area and a celebration was planned. While many things had changed, some had stayed the same. The development of new computer software advanced the important aspects of scheduling, standings, stats and the numerous things to keep track of. Thankfully though, the players stayed the same. They maintained their enthusiasm, desire, and love of the game. A player was never heard in an ice rink saying “what am I doing here?” It was great to see hockey families always at the games encouraging their players (or maybe sometimes not-too encouraging for the over-zealous dads) but overall, it was something they could share, learn by and remember. It was part of growing up.
The RPI system and initial team placement again did its magic for the pre-season scheduling session. A power point presentation of variables that are used to calculate RPI was given that demonstrate how data is reviewed, and teams to watch. For regular season scheduling, teams were placed based on preseason results. The petition process to request re-evaluation of team placement continued to be utilized this season. At the November 5th regular season scheduling meeting, the coaches were actually given their schedules on the spot! The entire schedule appeared on the web on November 7th. The wonders of technology!
The website continued to be updated and enhanced to provide even more information. Many people admitted they began their workday by first looking at cshlhockey.org.
Sadness struck this season with the passing of two men who were long time members of the CSHL. Mike Szymanski and Chuck Kurilko both began coaching in the CSHL in 1979 as members of the Garfield program, Mike at the Peewee level and Chuck with the Mites. Mike later became a part of the Cleveland Americans Tier I organization but bad health sidelined him many years ago. Chuck remained active and was still coaching the Mites at Garfield until his sudden death on March 18, 2006. He was adored by players and coaches alike. Both Mike and Chuck were true gentlemen and a cross word was never spoken by either. The League is proud to have had them in this organization.
The CSHL Select team, under the direction of Ron Short, announced the formation of an independent Tier II program to be conducted in cooperation with the Winterhurst Hockey Association for 2006-07. The Cleveland Warriors will be 1993, 1994 and 1995 birth year players, may of who competed last season as the CSHL Select team. It is believed that full time commitment to this program competing and practicing all year as a unit will make the teams more competitive than in 2005-06. The teams will not be playing in the CSHL.
Youngstown Hockey will be leaving the CSHL after this season for PAHL, citing more opportunities for their growing girls’ program, and better competition and more games for Midget players. The program leaves in good standing after 14 years and hopes to continue scheduling scrimmage games next season with CSHL teams.
Betty Ann Maulorico announced her retirement in January after 35 years, twenty-nine as Secretary-Treasurer and six as Treasurer. She had been at the very first formation meeting of the League on March 31, 1971 and it had always been a source of pride to her. The 35th Anniversary Celebration/MidAm Annual Meeting was planned for June 16-17, and not wanting to miss a good party, her last official day would be June 30th. Mr. Chris Kendel will take over the duties of League treasurer. The venue for the festivities was the Renaissance Hotel, downtown Public Square in Cleveland, Ohio.
So the 35-year history has been written. A lot people don’t like to look back, but if you don’t, how can you tell how far you’ve come? As long as children are taught to skate and learn the game of hockey, the CSHL will continue to create programs, expand opportunities and develop resources which will strengthen positive adult leadership. Everyday should be a great day for hockey.
CSHL LIST OF PRESIDENTS
Term Name Program
1971-75 Patrick J. Dodson Shaker
1975-79 Hugh J. Coyle Parma
1979-82 Jack Zitman Bay
1982-83 Robert Krosky Garfield
1983-85 Hugh J. Coyle Parma
1985-86 Al Pescatrice Rocky River
1986-88 Bill Morrow Mentor
1988-91 Bill Joy Bay
1991-97 Bill Morrow Mentor
1997-00 Jon Aber Cleveland Hts.
2000-03 Bernie Matis Parma
2003-06 Tim O'Shaughnessy Winterhurst
Written by Betty Ann Maulorico