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Frequently Asked Questions on Tier I

How did MH arrive at the decision to sanction Tier 1 hockey?

After a lengthy process of interviewing numerous stakeholders that would be affected by the implementation of Tier 1 hockey, Minnesota Hockey voted to institute a system that was:

  • Open to all age eligible players
  • Did not infringe on in-season community based youth or high school hockey seasons.
  • Was designated only for age groups that are eligible for USA Hockey National Championships
  • Supported by USA Hockey​

Are there Tier 1 teams in Minnesota that don’t fall under teams in these Leagues?

Shattuck-St. Mary’s is the only in-season Tier 1 program recognized by Minnesota Hockey. All other Tier 1 programs will be governed by Minnesota Hockey, and their respective affiliated Leagues.

Who is eligible?

All players in a particular birth year are eligible for the age classification they fall under. Players are eligible to play above their age classification, but never below.

Why does the season only run in the Fall?

The schedule is done this way to allow for teams to form and begin play in order to fit the required minimum of games prior to the Minnesota State High School League and Minnesota Hockey seasons starting.

Are the age classifications by USA Hockey or Minnesota Hockey birth years?

Tier 1 age classifications are USA Hockey birth years, meaning your age is based on the year in which you were born.

How does a team qualify for Nationals?

Each age classification will conduct a League playoff at the end of its season. When applicable, the League champion will face off against Shattuck-St. Mary’s in the District playoff for the right to play in the National Tournament in the Spring.

In some cases, teams that don’t win the District playoff may be invited to the National Tournament as an at-large bid.

When and where are the National Championships?

The 2022 USA Hockey Tier I National Championships shall be held from March 30 through April 4, 2022. The locations are as follows:

Youth 14U – Chicago, IL
Girls 14U – Pittsburgh, PA
Youth 15U – Plymouth, MI
Youth 16U – Rochester, MI
Girls 16U – Pittsburgh, PA
Youth 18U – Rochester, MI
Girls 19U – Pittsburgh, PA

How much does it cost to play?

The cost varies by League. For 14U and 15U, there will be a tryout/registration fee of $100. Players that make the team will be charged an additional fee by their district to cover costs of practices, jerseys, team staff stipends and league/playoff fees.

Teams that qualify for the National Tournament will be responsible for paying their own way to the tournament. Teams will be made aware of expected cost prior to the season starting.

How many games are included?

For Girls 19U and 16U, the minimum number of games played is 14. For Youth 18U and 16U, the minimum number of games played is 20. For 14U and 15U, the minimum number of games is 17.

What if the Tier 1 season coincides with my Association team or tryouts?

Minnesota Hockey has amended its participation rule for a player to be dual rostered only in the event that he or she is on a Tier 1 National Tournament eligible team. For that brief time period, a player will be allowed to be on both teams.

Leagues will do their best to avoid interference with a player’s community-based team’s schedule, but players should make every effort to participate with their in-season (association) team’s tryouts, practices and games.

The high school seasons will not be affected as all games will be completed prior to high school teams conducting tryouts.

What rules govern each League?

USA Hockey Tier 1 rules will govern each League’s play. Leagues may form their own rules, but when in conflict, USA Hockey rules will prevail.

Each League also has a Letter of Agreement with Minnesota Hockey with governing rules.