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It’s been a longer regular season for all players, with more teams extending their season on both the start and end of the year. Through conversations with our Associations, parents and players on what’s working and what isn’t, we are constantly looking at ways to create the best experience and trying new things.
One of the major changes over the last few seasons has been OMHA Championships presented by Egg Farmers of Ontario. Many teams are in the thick of Qualifiers, with everyone playing meaningful hockey until the beginning of March. It’s a change that has brought on a new format for those Championship weekends, now in their second season.
“From our side, it’s a necessary change. We’ve been challenged by the OHF to have all our teams playing until March 1st. Based on our size, we can’t run series the old way,” said Michael Dundas, Manager of Hockey Development at the OMHA. “We used to have to start those January 5th to get those to the middle of March ending with two teams in a traditional playoff, best-of series format. Just based on the fact we have to have all of our teams going until March 1st, we can’t pare down to two teams within four weeks.”
This means more players are playing hockey for longer. In the previous ‘elimination style’ or ‘best of series’ format, teams could see their season end in January or February. Now ALL players are playing meaningful hockey until at least March 1st and the Championships are an added bonus to the season.
More teams now have the opportunity to compete for #RedHats. Teams will still get to compete against other leagues within the OMHA that they wouldn’t normally play throughout the regular season. In our post-championships survey from last year, over 85% of the participants enjoyed playing teams from other leagues and just shy of 80% of participants were satisfied-very satisfied with the new format.
With 45 Championships scheduled over four upcoming weekends, that would’ve meant only 90 teams participating. Now, over 390 teams will be attending. That shows how many more teams are still playing later on in the season.
The Championships also centralize travel for hockey families.
“It might be a little further distance for one weekend, but you’re not doing it over multiple weekends or months in the calendar year.”
Teams can also now participate in tournaments in January and February without having to worry about it interfering with their Qualifiers schedules.
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