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The ABYHA Placement Process

As March arrives, so does the time for hockey placement evaluations. Without proper perspective, this may be an unnecessarily stressful time.

How will my child perform? How will he/she be evaluated? Will he/she make the team?

This article will hopefully shed some light on the placement process for all our ABYHA travel teams.

The first thing to know is that ABYHA does not cut anyone. Every child that participates in the tryout will be placed on a team for the Fall. 

Our tryout process is designed to place similarly skilled players together in order to provide an environment most conducive to improvement and fun.

The placement process happens over the course of the roughly 3 month period from March to Memorial Day. Everyone that has been through the process before is familiar with the on ice evaluations the program holds each March. In these sessions, an independent organization is asked to come and score the players over 2 sessions. In the Skills session, all the players complete a set of drills that are scored by the evaluators. Skaters are evaluated on skating ability and puck handling. In the 3x3 or 4x4 session, small area games are set up to evaluate true hockey game skills. Players are evaluated on competitiveness, creativity, vision and hockey IQ.

What is not as commonly known is that these sessions are only one part of the placement process. If your child played in the ABYHA program this or any recent season, they were evaluated by their coach during the March time frame. Each coach is asked to score each player on 18 attributes, and rank the players on the team. This is done by the head coach as well as all assistant coaches. 

At this point, we have a mountain of data on each player in the system. Some of this data is generated by someone who never saw your child before. Some of this data is generated by coaches that spent 7 months with your child. The data comes from many angles, and is very thorough. At this point we have an online application that crunches all this data for us, and ranks every skater in each division. This list is reviewed with a first pass by ABYHA to make sure there are no obvious errors. ABYHA has done this process for many years, and what we find is that this first pass is amazingly accurate.

Based on the number of players in each division, the list is divided to make as many teams as makes sense for the number of skaters. We call this Version 1.

Version 1, including the tryout raw data, is shared with the current year Head Coaches. There is detailed discussion at this meeting about the Version 1 list. Any disagreements are voiced, discussed, and finally decided. This becomes Version 2.

Version 2, not including raw tryout data, is shared at a general coaches meeting, with all the current coaches. We now have many more points of view, so any discrepancy missed so far is generally found. More discussion takes place, and if need be, changes are made. We are now at version 3 of the team list, and we consider this final. This is the list that is announced around Memorial Day.

It is important to note that coaches for next year’s teams have not been selected at this point. Only after the final Version 3 placement list is complete do discussions begin on who will be the coach.

As a parent on the outside of this process, there are a few tips to be shared.

If your child, who played in ABYHA this year, has an “off night" at evaluations, it will have very little effect on placement. As mentioned above, there are coaches who spent 7 months with your child, and their opinion will be heard.

The same is true of missing evaluations, but this is not an excuse to skip, nor is it a reason for any player to “mail it in” at evaluations. We are looking to see the best from every skater, and this is their chance to shine and show us what they have. Determination and attitude play a big part in this game, and a bad attitude at evaluations will be noticed.

Once team placements are announced, please remember that this process is not about making the best, super, winning team. This process is about putting your child in the best position for them to improve, and most importantly, have fun. A child placed inappropriately will not be happy, and will not improve as he/she should. We strive to create a love of the game, where your child can’t wait to get to the rink.

Remember, the team placements have been reviewed by no less than a dozen people, most of whom have played this game for many years, and at a high level. Your child was not missed or passed over.

If your child is a “bubble” player, meaning they are right on the line between 2 teams, consider the difference. If your child is in the bottom half in terms of skill for a team, he/she will touch the puck less, be less involved in the play, and struggle with confidence. “Playing up” does not produce better players. If your child is in the top half of skill on the team, they will be more involved in the play, touch the puck more, and gain confidence. Confidence is critical to this game at every level. If you rob your child of that early, it is very difficult to regain.

Lastly, we are revising our placement process for 2017-2018. We have stated that we are not allowing players to play on other hockey teams as well as ABYHA. It has been our experience that players cannot be committed to 2 teams, and therefore miss practice and games. In many cases the AB team is left short. Worse than that, those players are taking spots away from others who are more committed to the AB team. We feel very strongly about the USA Hockey Development Model we have adopted, and subscribe to the research that shows the appropriate amount of ice time a developing player should get. Research has shown that playing significantly more that the USA Hockey recommendations not only does not help develop a player, in most cases it is a detriment. We have seen many players "burn out" before they reach high school, therefore it is to everyone's benefit that we adopt this policy. 

We look forward to another successful season in 2017-18.

AB Half Ice 4X4 League

ABYHA will again be running a fun summer skate.

The Benefits of 4-on-4 Play On The Half Ice Surface:

4-on-4 is a "skills" based game, played in tight spaces at a fast pace. Players quickly improve your "skills" to adapt to this fast pace. Less space = less time = quicker decisions!

4-on-4 hockey increases puck handling, team play, transition from offense to defense/defense to offense, positioning, time on the ice, plus many many more benefits. Players that are not “goal scorers” get the opportunity to touch the puck more and gain confidence.

Most importantly, a FUN program and a chance to skate with all our AB Hockey friends!

  • Includes 8 week program and AB Summer League Jersey!
  • Every Thursday in July & August:
  • July 6 – Aug 24 Concord Valley Rink 2
  • 5:10-6:10pm for Players with birth year 2008, 2009, 2010
  • 6:20-7:20pm for Players with birth year 2007, 2006, 2005
  • Program cost: $185

2017-2018 Season Tryout Schedule

Tryouts for the 2017-2018 season are upon us. If you are unable to make your tryout dates, please Contact Peter King or Lou Genovese.

All Tryouts will take place on NVO Rink 1.

The ABYHA Board wants to be very clear in the direction that we have been heading. We continue to have development of all players as our top priority. We have fully embraced the USA Hockey American Development Model (ADM) and we have made an across the board commitment to the development of players of all ages. Therefore for this upcoming season, we expect a 100% commitment from our players to attend all practices, games, off-ice training and tournaments. We will not allow players to play for other hockey teams and AB. All players in our program are receiving the recommended amount of practice and game time as per USA Hockey. If a player is playing for an additional team, it is detrimental to their development.

This policy does not affect fall sports other than hockey.


Access the Tryout Registration form using the button below.

The tryout schedule is in the table at right.

Monday, 3/6

5:45pm MITES A-J (09,10) Skills
6:55pm SQUIRTS A-J (07,08) Skills
8:10pm Midgets-All (02,01,00,99) Skills
9:20pm Midgets-All (02,01,00,99) 4x4

Tuesday, 3/7

5:45pm MITES K-Z (09,10) Skills
6:55pm SQUIRTS K-Z (07,08) Skills

Monday, 3/13

5:45pm MITES A-J (09,10) X-Ice
6:55pm SQUIRTS A-J (07,08) X-Ice

Tuesday, 3/14 - CANCELLED

Cancelled MITES K-Z (09,10) X-Ice
Cancelled SQUIRTS K-Z (07,08) X-Ice

Friday, 3/17

5:30pm MITES K-Z (09,10) X-Ice
6:40pm SQUIRTS K-Z (07,08) X-Ice

Monday, 3/20

5:45pm PEEWEE A-J (05,06) Skills
6:55pm BANTAM A-J (03,04) Skills

Tuesday, 3/21

5:45pm PEEWEE K-Z (05,06) Skills
6:55pm BANTAM K-Z (03,04) Skills

Monday, 3/27

5:45pm PEEWEE A-J (05,06) X-Ice
6:55pm BANTAM A-J (03,04) X-Ice

Tuesday, 3/28

5:45pm PEEWEE K-Z (05,06) X-Ice
6:55pm BANTAM K-Z (03,04) X-Ice

Registration for the 2017-18 ABCC Girls Tryout

Registration for the upcoming 2017-2018 season tryout for the joint girls ABCC program is now open.

Please use the link on the right to begin the registration process.

If you have any questions or issues with registration, please contact Mike Willis.

The interest in girls hockey continues to grow. The board members and coaches at Acton Boxborough (AB) and Concord Carlisle (CC) want to continue to provide opportunities for the girls in our communities. Our girls hockey skills and hockey sense have seen significant development over the last several years utilizing the USA Hockey American Development Model at both the AB and CC girls programs. We would like to see this trend continue. As our girls age and interest continues to grow, there is a need to provide teams for our players at the right age and development level. Members of the AB and CC boards have met and have developed a plan which will help continue our goals of providing opportunities for our girls teams.

For next season we are planning to merge our girls programs. Our team will be called the Acton Boxborough Concord Carlisle Girls Team or ABCC. We are planning for practices and games on teams at the U10, U12, and U14 level based on interest and numbers. We would like to invite you to join us for tryouts, which are scheduled for Saturday March 25th at 4:30PMfor U10 and 5:40PM for U12 and U14 at the:

Valley Sports Arenas

2320 Main Street
Route 62
Concord, MA

Learn to Skate/Learn to Play

2016-2017 Learn to Skate & Learn to Play (Mosquitoes)

The ABYHA Learn to Skate and Learn to Play Hockey Program is open to Boys and Girls of all ages, and is designed for a child to learn how to skate and develop the basic fundamental skills of hockey. USA Hockey recommends the use of age and skill appropriate drills to teach the players how to skate and play hockey. Players will participate in various fun games and drills utilizing USA Hockey’s Learn to Skate Level 1 and 2 programs, and the Learn to Play Hockey program. Members of the ABYHA Board of Directors will evaluate your child during their first practice to assist in the appropriate initial placement of your child.

The ABYHA Learn to Play (formerly Mosquito) Program is open to Boys and Girls born in 2011 or older, and is designed as the next step in development for players who have progressed through the Learn to Skate & Play Hockey program. As in the Learn to Skate & Play Hockey Program, USA Hockey recommends the use of age and skill appropriate drills to teach the players how to skate and play hockey. Players will participate in various fun games and drills on Saturday mornings utilizing USA Hockey’s 6U program, and will also play a half ice 4v4 game on Sundays. We will have 4 teams with a maximum of 12 players on a first come first serve basis.

Please use the link at the right to register for the Winter 2017 session.


The ABYHA Apparel Store is Open!

ABYHA logo knit hat

Check out the online store for a completely new lineup of ABYHA apparel for the 2015-2016 season! Simply click the Store tab above to enter the store. Orders are currently being accepted so get your gear now for the upcoming season!

The Online ABYHA Store


Founded in 1970, the Acton-Boxboro Youth Hockey Association serves boys and girls in the towns of Acton, Boxboro, Harvard, and Bolton Massachusetts. Our home rink is the Nashoba Valley Olympia on Route 111 in Boxboro (directions). Our teams play in the Valley League, and our girls team play in the Middlesex Yankee Conference.

We have 17 teams from the Mite to Midget level, Girls team combined with Concord Carlisle Youth Hockey, and a learn to skate program with six intramural Mosquito teams. We have a long, proud heritage. Our program is based upon the principle of making our children's hockey experience as enjoyable as possible, with a strong emphasis on skating and skills development and having fun with hockey. Some of our players have graduated to the National Hockey League, and others have played for their high school and college teams. 

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