Ice hockey is a thrilling, high-speed sport that demands athleticism, teamwork, and skill. AAA Hockey takes this fast-paced game to the next level by providing elite players with top-level coaching, advanced training resources, and access to premier competition. For those unfamiliar with the term, AAA Hockey refers to the highest level of youth ice hockey in North America – it’s the best of the best.
If your child has shown a passion for hockey and has the talent to match, you might be wondering what AAA Hockey is all about and how it differs from other levels of play. This guide will give you an overview of everything you need to know about AAA Hockey, from the caliber of players to the rigorous tryout process. You’ll learn about the benefits of playing at this competitive level, as well as the challenges and responsibilities that come with it.
“I don’t like going to games where there isn’t intensity or stakes. That’s not why I go watch sports.” -Terry Crews
This ultimate guide will cover various topics related to AAA Hockey, including its history, rules & regulations, league structures, equipment requirements, facilities, funding, travel arrangements, scholarships opportunities, and more. Whether you’re a parent who wants to support your child’s hockey dreams or a player looking to take their skills to the next level, this comprehensive resource is designed to help you navigate through the exciting world of AAA Hockey.
So, if you’re ready to discover the ins and outs of AAA Hockey, grab a stick, lace up your skates, and let’s get started!
Understanding the Basics of AAA Hockey
What is AAA hockey?
AAA hockey, also known as Tier I hockey, is a highly competitive level of youth ice hockey in North America. It is considered the highest level of amateur hockey in Canada and the United States and attracts some of the best young players in both countries.
To be classified as AAA, teams must meet certain standards and eligibility criteria set by their respective governing bodies (such as USA Hockey or Hockey Canada). These requirements may include coaching certifications, player development programs, and overall team performance metrics.
What are the requirements to play AAA hockey?
The requirements for playing AAA hockey will vary depending on your location and age group. However, generally speaking, players who are interested in playing AAA hockey should have excellent skating ability, stick handling skills, passing ability, and physical strength.
In addition, players need to have a deep understanding of the game of hockey, strong teamwork skills, and good sportsmanship. They must also be able to commit to a rigorous training schedule and maintain an excellent academic record while still managing other extracurricular activities.
Some professional advice for players looking to advance to the AAA level includes gaining experience through participation in local house and travel leagues before trying out for AAA teams.
What are the levels of AAA hockey?
The levels of AAA hockey can vary depending on the governing body or region in which you reside. In the United States, there are five levels of AAA hockey: Major Midgets, U18, U16, U15, and U14. As for Canada, it has three levels of AAA hockey; Bantam, Minor Midget, and Midget.
The higher levels of AAA hockey produce talent that is closely examined by colleges and professional hockey scouts, who wish to recruit players from the AAA teams. Players who compete at this level often pursue opportunities for DI or DIII College Scholarships in the United States.
How is AAA hockey different from other youth hockey leagues?
The main differences between AAA hockey and other youth hockey leagues lie in the talent of the players, intensity of competition, number of games played, and quality of coaching. The best players around the age group form a team that give them an affordable way towards professional hockey career.
“AAA hockey provides elite young people with extensive ice time, broad exposure, advanced development facilities, optimal equipment, first-rate coaching, international travel experiences, numerous selection camps, continual contests against top-rated opponents – basically everything requisite for advancement to professional and Olympic ranks,” said Larry Pleau; scouting director for Team USA Hockey
In addition, the cost and travel involved in playing AAA hockey can be significantly higher than for other levels of youth hockey, making it more accessible to families on a comfortable financial plateau. Competition to make AAA teams is certainly competitive as tryouts may involve several hundreds of players from around the country vying for just a few spots on each team roster.
The Benefits of Playing AAA Hockey
Improved Skill Development
AAA hockey is the highest level of youth hockey in North America. Players who join a AAA team are often the most dedicated and skilled athletes at their age level. As a result, these players are exposed to intense training from experienced coaches who work to help them improve their skills. Unlike recreational leagues, AAA teams have more structured practices that not only focus on basic drills but also game-specific situations.
Playing against equally or better-skilled opponents increases one’s quality of play over time. In AAA hockey, players face off against some of the best players in their age bracket, which helps create an environment for fast-paced and competitive play. Through constant challenges encountered while playing AAA hockey, players acquire discipline, patience, sportsmanship, teamwork, problem-solving skills, leadership qualities, mind control, agility, speed, flexibility, and endurance. This means that the skill set they develop through AAA hockey will benefit them both in hockey and beyond the sport.
“Skill is important, but attitude is everything” -Hockey Canada
Exposure to College and Professional Scouts
AAA hockey can provide talented young athletes with broader options for continuing their hockey careers. One significant benefit is exposure to college scouts and professional organizations. Many colleges and universities across North America look for elite high school athletes who participate in AAA hockey tournaments. For instance, Ivy League schools want well-rounded students that represent athletic ability commensurate with their academic performance. Other college scouts look for recruits who possess specific attributes, such as size, skating ability, scoring prowess, toughness, discipline, and overall talent. Often, being drafted into a junior league or minor league professional system is one avenue to furthering your career after AAA hockey.
Throughout a player’s AAA career, they will have numerous opportunities to showcase their skills in front of scouts from various teams. It is not unusual for college and professional representatives to attend AAA tournaments or watch tape highlights of games to scout the next generation of hockey stars. Playing AAA hockey can provide athletes with a high level of visibility that opens doors to future opportunities.
“Good things come to those who work hard and never give up; things like success, prizes, and being noticed by colleges and universities.” -Anonymous
Opportunities for Travel and Competition
Playing AAA hockey provides players the opportunity to travel across North America to compete against some of the best teams in their age bracket. AAA tournaments are held regularly throughout the region and beyond, providing exposure to different styles of play. Hockey players get first-hand experience playing in different arenas, cities, states, and even countries, which widens their perspective both athletically and culturally.
AAA hockey often involves long trips and extended stays away from home, giving young athletes invaluable life experiences while bonding as a team. Players learn how to deal with adversity, adjust to unfamiliar circumstances, overcome language barriers, discover new cultures, become independent, and develop social skills – all while still focusing on assisting their teammates in achieving victory. Participating in AAA hockey requires considerable financial resources, but when planned strategically, the monetary expense could be viewed as an investment towards your child’s future.
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” -Steve Jobs
A common misconception about AAA hockey is the amount of time it demands. AAA has much more flexible scheduling than many people realize due to limited practice restrictions and only having around 60-70 games per season, making it manageable for academic commitments in addition to developing athletic talent. Schools also offer students online classes, allowing them to complete schoolwork on the go while traveling.
Playing AAA hockey is a significant step for young athletes, leading them towards excitement and opportunities they could not have otherwise. The development of top-level skills, exposure to collegiate and professional scouts, travel opportunities, and elite competition are just some benefits that make AAA hockey an excellent choice for those seeking to play at the highest level possible.
How to Join an AAA Hockey Team
AAA hockey, or triple-A hockey, refers to the highest level of youth ice hockey in Canada and the United States. To play on an AAA team, you need to have the skills and dedication required to compete at an elite level.
The first step to joining an AAA hockey team is attending their tryouts. These tryouts are usually held in the spring or summer before the start of the season. You may need to register online beforehand and pay a fee to participate.
To make a good impression at tryouts, arrive early and be prepared. Dress in appropriate gear, including a helmet, gloves, skates, and shin pads, and bring your stick and water bottle. Be ready to demonstrate your skating, shooting, passing, and defensive skills.
During tryouts, pay attention to the coaches’ instructions and follow their drills carefully. Communicate with your teammates and show a positive attitude. And most importantly, give it your all and don’t be afraid to showcase your talents.
Reach out to coaches and team managers
If you’re serious about joining an AAA hockey team but didn’t make it through the open tryouts, consider reaching out to the coaches and team managers directly. Introduce yourself via email or phone, and express your interest in playing for their team.
You can also ask if there are any upcoming private tryouts that you could attend or inquire about what areas you need to improve on based on their evaluation during the open tryout.
Remember to be respectful and courteous when contacting them, as they may receive numerous inquiries from players looking to join the team.
Get recommendations from current or former coaches
If you have played on a previous hockey team, whether it be from a different league or level, ask your coach if they can provide a reference for you. A recommendation letter or phone call from a respected and well-known coach could greatly improve your chances of making an AAA team.
It’s also essential to showcase good sportsmanship, as word of mouth travels fast in the hockey community. Always display a positive attitude, work ethic, and respect towards others both on and off the ice.
Research AAA hockey organizations in your area
Another way to increase your chances of joining an AAA hockey team is by researching different hockey organizations that offer AAA-level teams within your local area. Look into their history, reputation, and success rate of taking players onto higher levels such as Junior A, college or NBA, as well as the philosophy and values of each organization.
By gathering this information, you’ll enhance your knowledge about which organizations would be a good fit for you and where you’d have the best chance of advancing your hockey career.
“Hockey is skating, passing, shooting, scoring goals, winning faceoffs and much more, but really none of those things are possible without ATTITUDE!” – Bob Acton
Joining an AAA hockey team requires determination, skill, and dedication. The journey won’t be easy, but these steps will help set you on the path towards achieving your goals and playing at the highest level.
What to Expect During AAA Hockey Tryouts
AAA hockey is a high-level competitive league for youth players in North America. Players who wish to participate in this league must go through rigorous tryouts, which can be both physical and mental challenges.
Hockey tryouts are all about showing off your skills on the ice, but it’s also important to have an understanding of the big picture. Coaches will be evaluating how well you work with others, follow instructions, and react under pressure.
It’s essential to arrive at tryouts feeling confident and prepared. This means practicing regularly and taking care of your body by staying hydrated and getting enough sleep.
“In AAA, there’s a little bit more emphasis placed on skill level… it’s very competitive; every player is good.” – Former AAA hockey player Adam Huxley
Various skill tests and drills
The goal of AAA hockey tryouts is to identify the strongest players who can contribute to the team’s success. To do so, coaches will put players through various skill tests and drills that challenge them in different ways.
Skating ability is one of the most crucial skills evaluated during tryouts. Coaches look for players with exceptional speed, agility, balance, and power as skating forms the basis for many other aspects of the game.
Another critical aspect of tryouts is the evaluation of puck handling, passing, and shooting skills. To excel in AAA hockey, players need to showcase their ability to control the puck with precision, make quick passes, and shoot accurately throughout the game situation simulations.
Mental toughness is also a vital element looked upon closely. Players who remain calm and focused even when under intense pressure tend to stand out among the rest.
“As part of the AAA program, you can expect high-level coaching and training. There’s a certain expectation that exists when you play at this level.” -Former Minor Hockey Player Ryan Dumont
AAA hockey tryouts require players to bring their A-game both physically and mentally. Players are tested on all aspects of the game, from skating and puck-handling skills to teamwork and mental toughness. Those who make it to the team must be truly deserving of the honor and work hard to maintain their spot in the league.
The Cost of Playing AAA Hockey
Ice time and rink rental fees
One of the biggest expenses associated with playing AAA hockey is ice time. AAA players typically practice two to three times a week and have games on weekends. The fees for renting ice time can range from $200-$500+ per hour depending on location, prime-time hours, and other factors.
In addition to this, some associations require families to purchase packages of pre-paid ice time as part of yearly registration fees. These packages can cost several thousand dollars and are non-refundable even if a player leaves the team during the season.
To offset costs, some teams host fundraising events or require families to participate in different volunteer opportunities throughout the season.
Equipment costs and maintenance
A big factor in the cost of playing AAA hockey is the equipment required. AAA players need high-quality skates, helmets, gloves, shin guards, elbow pads, shoulder pads, and sticks. In addition, goaltenders require specialized gear including leg pads, catchers, blockers, and chest protectors.
Parents can expect to spend anywhere between $1000-$3000 on new equipment each year. Many equipment companies offer discounts for AAA players, but it’s still a significant amount of money.
It’s also important to note that equipment needs regular maintenance. This includes sharpening skates, replacing laces, fixing broken parts, and ensuring all equipment fits properly. Neglecting proper maintenance could result in costly repairs or replacement of equipment.
Travel expenses for tournaments and games
AAA teams often travel long distances for tournaments or games. Families must pay for transportation, lodging, meals, and any additional expenses such as admission tickets or souvenirs.
The cost of travel can add up quickly, especially for families with multiple children playing AAA hockey. Some associations offer group rates or team discounts to help alleviate some of the financial burden.
Coaching and training fees
AAA players receive top-notch coaching and training from experienced professionals. However, this comes at a price. Most teams hire full-time coaches who have extensive experience and hold certifications through USA Hockey or other governing bodies.
In addition, many AAA teams participate in off-ice training programs that focus on strength and conditioning, speed and agility, and mental skills. These programs can cost anywhere from $500-$2000 per season.
“Developing young athletes takes time and resources. The long hours spent at the rink and the money invested are all worth it when you see the growth and progress of the players.” – Coach Mike, AAA Hockey Coach
Playing AAA hockey is an incredible opportunity for young athletes to develop their skills, compete at a high level, and create lifelong memories. However, it’s important for families to understand the financial commitment required to play at this level.
By understanding the costs associated with AAA hockey, families are better equipped to make informed decisions about whether or not to pursue this path. Additionally, families may seek out different options like community-based programs or scholarships to help offset the expenses associated with AAA hockey.
AAA Hockey vs. Other Hockey Leagues: Which Is Right for You?
Hockey is a sport that is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. It’s loved for its fast-paced, physical gameplay and strong team dynamics. However, not every hockey league is created equal, which can make it challenging to decide where you should put your focus as a player or parent.
Differences in skill level and competition
The first thing to consider when choosing between AAA hockey and other leagues is the difference in skill level and competitiveness of games. AAA hockey is known for having some of the best players at their age level. Teams are often made up of elite prospects who have been scouted from various regions and have demonstrated an exceptional proficiency on the ice. With many scouts attending games regularly, there is added pressure for players, but also more opportunity for exposure.
In comparison, lower-level leagues may not see the same level of talent or intensity during games. While all leagues provide a chance to develop fundamental skills, AAA hockey promotes a stronger sense of work ethic and discipline that prepares athletes for higher levels of play.
Another consideration is cultural and social differences between leagues. Many minor hockey associations embrace the philosophy that hockey is meant to be a fun activity and emphasize fair play alongside development. Less emphasis is placed on wins and losses, allowing players the freedom to try new things on the ice without fear of consequence. In contrast, AAA hockey is driven by competition with a focus on winning games as a primary goal. This provides less room for players to take chances and experiment beyond structured systems coaching staffs enforce.
Additionally, parental involvement varies between leagues, reflecting differing perspectives regarding participation in sports. Lower-level leagues typically prioritize a community-driven approach where volunteering and engagement is encouraged from parents, emphasizing fun and socialization for young players. In AAA hockey, there is greater investment in the competitive potential of teams. In some cases, more pushy or overbearing personalities can emerge where winning becomes a singular focus with less regard for the overall team operations.
The cost of playing hockey varies wildly depending on the league that a player is registered with. Some lower-level leagues are subsidized by community centers and operate modestly, resulting in significantly lower fees required to participate than elite levels. AAA hockey charges higher fees to cover additional training costs, travel expenses, better ice quality, specialized gear – all aimed at maintaining an environment which produces high performing athletes.
“AAA hockey organization comes with significant additional costs, so it’s important to make sure you and your child are both prepared financially.”
Distance traveled to games is another factor widely differing among different leagues. Minor hockey associations usually organize their schedules around regionally clustered teams, guaranteeing regular local competition while minimizing long road trips. Conversely, many AAA hockey leagues are cross-city, interstate or even nationwide traveling regularly for games involving notable expenses (time away from work/school/life and) accommodations including meals, lodgings, and transportation.
If time constraints could be a concern, families may find it helpful to inquire about the schedule commitments with various programs before registering for any one league.
If competing against other top-tier athletes anywhere in the country sounds like your kind of audience — and you are willing to shell out the extra cash to do it – then AAA might be right for you. If not — and you would prefer a more homegrown approach focused more on kids’ enjoyment rather than results, recreational or house-league programs are probably best suited for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is AAA hockey?
AAA hockey is the highest level of amateur hockey in North America. It consists of elite players aged 15-20 who are selected through a tryout process. AAA hockey teams compete in high-level tournaments and leagues across the continent. The competition is fierce, and the level of play is demanding and challenging.
How is AAA hockey different from other levels of hockey?
AAA hockey is the highest level of amateur hockey, which means it’s more competitive and demanding than other levels. The players are more skilled, and the pace of play is faster. The games are longer, more physical, and the teams travel extensively to compete at the highest level. The competition is intense, and the players are expected to perform at their best every game.
What are the requirements for players to participate in AAA hockey?
Players must be selected through a competitive tryout process to participate in AAA hockey. They must also have a high level of skill, dedication, and commitment to the sport. Players are expected to attend all practices, games, and tournaments, and maintain good grades in school. They must also adhere to team rules and regulations.
What are the benefits of playing AAA hockey?
Playing AAA hockey offers numerous benefits, including the opportunity to compete at the highest level, improve skills, and gain exposure to scouts and recruiters. Players also learn important life skills such as teamwork, leadership, and time management. They also develop lifelong friendships and memories. For those who aspire to play at the college or professional level, AAA hockey provides a stepping stone to achieve their goals.
How competitive is AAA hockey?
AAA hockey is extremely competitive, with players and teams striving to win every game. The level of play is intense, and the games are fast-paced and physical. Players must be at their best every game, and competition for roster spots is fierce. The teams compete in high-level tournaments and leagues across North America, making it a challenging and demanding sport.
What is the cost of participating in AAA hockey?
The cost of participating in AAA hockey varies depending on the team and the level of competition. It can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars per season. The cost includes ice time, tournament fees, travel expenses, equipment, and coaching fees. However, many teams offer fundraising opportunities and financial assistance to help offset the cost, making it more accessible to players and families.