North Dakota High School Hockey Needs A Two Class System
As someone who's been involved with youth hockey in North Dakota for the last 10 plus years, I believe it's time for North Dakota to go to a two class system for High School Hockey. "AA" "A" or "A" "B" it really doesn't matter what you call it I guess.
I know the state is more balanced this year (especially in the west) but this is something that has been brought up many times in the halls of rinks for as long as I can remember. Obvious advantages...Teams like Hazen, Bottineau, Mayville, etc would actually have a chance to play in a state tournament.
You could also move the few club programs that remain across the state to high school, like Watford City, Langdon, Crosby, etc. To me this is a win for all. I understand hosting a state tournament with twice as many teams would not work in one city, with the exception of Grand Forks or maybe Fargo. You would then simply hold the tournaments in different cities, giving more economic benefits to the state. No different then what they are doing for Bantam or Pee Wees in youth hockey every year.
Next advantage...6 point games are TERRIBLE for both teams. Beating somebody 12-0 hurts both programs.
Final advantage...You're only allowed 21 games per year. Having to waste 3 or 4 of those each year against "lesser" programs only hurts both programs. Take away those games and you could schedule more games with more "like" opponents in the state or higher programs in Minnesota or even Canada.
Something else the NDHSAA should consider is adding a few more games each year. This is another complaint that is commonly echoed across the rinks. So many kids leave early for Juniors because of this. Even increasing the games by two would be a start. This would only mean adding one extra week to the season. Most of these kids are used to playing 45 plus games a season in Bantams.
Matt Fetsch from the NDHSAA was kind enough to jump on the phone with me and explained to me what needs to take place to move to a two class system. The NDHSAA only meets every other year, much like our legislature in North Dakota. There would have to be a membership vote to change the Bi-Laws and make an amendment. Currently in North Dakota if you go to a two class system, you must have at least 12 teams in each class. This would have to be amended. It would involve getting coaches, athletic directors and decision makers together and cut some of that red tape.
If we truly want to grow hockey in North Dakota, give our kids a better chance to take the next step and compete with the rest of the country. Now is the time move on this subject.