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Did you know the # of A, B1 and B teams, by level, are determined before registration even begins?

By Director of Marketing & Communications, 08/23/18, 12:15AM CDT


Learn how the WFHA works with our neighboring associations and the NDAHA to maximize the hockey opportunity for ND.

Every year members have a lot of questions regarding how the number of A’s, B1’s and B’s are determined.  We wanted to take a minute and explain the methodology:


  • Until 2012 (just five years ago), the North Dakota Amateur Hockey Association oversaw two levels of youth hockey in ND; A & B.
  • Because of the exceptional “Grow the Game” efforts, administered by both the USAHA and NDAHA and executed by the individual ND associations, the sport has grown – significantly. 
  • As a result, the NDAHA took the initiative to improve how they form and administer competitive leagues while maximizing the opportunity for players and families at every level in every association.
  • They formed the NDAHA “League Governance Committee” to initiate and oversee the process for creating league teams while also offering guidance and recommendations to ALL ND associations under their umbrella. 
  • There is one LGC for “youth” and one for “girls”.
  • The NDAHA LGC now also oversees four levels of classification (two added after 2012); AA’s, A’s, B1’s and B’s.

NDAHA believes these actions have resulted in benefits to the sport of hockey across ND and recognizes to be successful the LGC must constantly review its practices.  For example:

  • Until recently a hard-line rule existed stating that each affiliate must field one “A” team per each federation high school that the affiliate serves. 
    • Note: The WFHA currently serves two high schools.  Previously, to comply, the WFHA was required to field two A teams.
  • The LGC recognized that each affiliate’s programming group is in the best position to assess the general player and team skill level in their own program and determine where their teams will fit best in each league.
  • As a result, it is now expected each affiliate must field one “A” team per each federation high school they serve, but it is no longer a “hard line rule”.


  • Every year the NDAHA LGC requires affiliate/local association to forecast/project the number of teams they expect at each level by July 15th.
  • To meet the deadline, the affiliates/local associations typically start the process much earlier.
  • For the WFHA the process started in MAY!!  Yep…May. 
  • Team projections for most of affiliates/local associations are based on:
  • Number of players and from the previous season/level.
  • Number of goalies from the previous season/level.
  • Levels of success achieved in the previous season/level:
    • Ideal target is above .500
    • Target is not “run the table or be undefeated” as then our teams don’t gain the skills of playing from behind or ahead or the sportsmanship of learning how to win and how to lose.
    • How many returning 2nd year players vs. 1st year players (i.e. was level of success due to tenure or skill or both).
  • Ice Time in the previous season/level:
    • Ideally 3 forward lines, 2 defense lines and a goalie (14 total)
    • This structure is aligned to other associations/affiliates in the NDAHA
    • Need to achieve playing time balance between too much, not enough as well as absences including but not limited to injury, sickness, other activity conflicts or family commitments.
  • Forecasted/projected changes for the upcoming season for all the previous mentioned variables.
    • (Hint – in addition to offering a discounted rate, the other benefit to early bird registration is forecasting and team alignment to the league – and why it is SO IMPORTANT.)
  • Future of the program:
    • With two high school programs to feed, the number of players needed competing at different levels for future success.
    • With the growth of the association, the number of players needed competing at different levels to proactively plan for the opportunity.
      • Ex1: NDSU is to Division 1 Football as WFHA is to AA?
      • Ex2: WFHA is to GFHA as WF High /Sheyenne High is to GF High?
  • Hockey Operation Committee Insight
    • Once it is all rolled up…does it make sense?



  • It is impossible to forecast anything with 100% accuracy.  If it was…the person compiling this document would not be on the WFHA board…they would be on a Yacht they purchased with gains they acquired in the stock market.
  • With any forecast you are trying to get as close to a target as possible.  The NDAHA and the WFHA believe if the practices above are followed, history shows most ND associations/affiliates come VERY close.
  • Every year the state of ND has a few team playing at levels in leagues they shouldn’t be.
    • Both winning too much and not winning enough.
    • This is normal, typical and impossible to avoid 100% across all levels & leagues.


The objective of the NDAHA, WFHA and all associations/affiliates is to push its teams to the highest level of competition possible.  In order to do so players should be given the opportunity to be challenged by others but not the point they can’t compete.  They should realize success but not to the point it is assured or “run the table”.  Therefore, the leagues are intentionally engineered to be competitive.  If for some reason this does not happen, there are still other actions the NDAHA can take to drive this objective:

  • If an association/affiliate is out of alignment with the rest of the league (meaning their teams are either consistently winning or losing by margins of 4 goals or more), the following year, the NDAHA LGC has the authority to ignore the association/affiliates team intentions/submissions and choose team placement on behalf of the association/affiliate.
  • The above criteria DOES NOT apply to teams who are consistently winning at the highest levels (AA and A) if the “one A team per level per federation high school team” expectation is being met.
  • At state tournament time the NDAHA “Tournament Committee”, at their discretion, will move those “over achieving” teams up to compete at a higher level in the tournament.
  • To date the NDAHA Tournament Committee has not observed the need to move teams to a lower level in the tournament.  Therefore, as a rule, does not.

The league formation process is not an exact science but it has proven to work much better and result in more success and improve the game of hockey across the entire state much more than the arbitrary methods used in the past. 

Thank you for your time!!

Co-Authored by:

Ryan Endres - Vice President of Hockey Operations

Jason Gregoire - Hockey Director

Bob Bye - NDAHA District Representative