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Published October 17, 2011, 07:24 PM

Task Force Looking at Ways to Consolidate GF Youth Hockey Programs

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - There's an effort underway to consolidate youth hockey programs in Grand Forks. The Youth Hockey Task Force is rolling out a plan this week to come up with the best way to do that.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - There's an effort underway to consolidate youth hockey programs in Grand Forks. The Youth Hockey Task Force is rolling out a plan this week to come up with the best way to do that.

Right now there are three youth hockey associations here in Grand Forks. The plan is to change that next year.

Kids ages five through ten skate in the park district's house leagues, and the private hockey associations of the Blues and the Supras. The levels of Termites, Mites and Squirt hockey may soon be all under one roof instead of three.

The North Dakota Hockey Association, which is an arm of the USA Hockey Association, no longer wants to sanction private hockey clubs like the Blues and the Supras.

"Teams from other states in that if they are associated with USA hockey would not be able to play you because you are not sanctioned by USA hockey. It's a little bit of that NCAA deal. It's they're association and you want to be a member, 'here's our guidelines,'" Park Board superintendent Bill Palmiscno said.

Supporters of the consolidation say it will also give kids more opportunities.

"Right now you have tryouts for peewee and bantams, there you will have tryouts for squirts. So you will still have two A teams that you have now plus the B teams. But it will be an open tryout throughout the city for the kids," Palmiscno said.

"We think there is an opportunity for us to realign the youth hockey model in our community, to be more consistant and compliant with that," Grand Forks Hockey Task Force member Jody Hodgson said.

Hodgson says adopting USA Hockey's American Development Model requires one association and focuses on developing skills and less on traveling teams.

"I think one of the advantages of a consolidated youth hockey model is that it will open opportunities to kids that currently don't have some of the opportunies that are enjoyed by others in the community," Hodgson said.

The change is expected to go smoothly and be in place next year. But there could be a few people that may question the move.

"I think the fear of a lot of parents put a lot of time and effort into helping the Supras and Blues. They are not going to have that ability to put a lot of effort and maybe even dictate how which pass they go. It will have be a community-wide area going forward," Palmiscno said.

The Youth Hockey Task Force will hold a meeting on the consolidation of youth hockey on Wednesday night at 7:30 at the Red River High School Theater.

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