Tiering - Building the Teams
Before regular season starts there are a series of ice times - called evaluations, to determine team placement or “tier”.
Each association will approach the evaluations a little differently - but it usually starts by grouping them first alphabetically by last name. After that skate they will be grouped by ability and continue with a few more rounds of skates where they may or may not be bumped up or down. Your child will be placed on a team based on his/her ability.
Then the overall ability of that team is considered for the “tier” they will play. Each tier includes teams from around the city that are considered of equal level.
The season is divided into three “rounds” and after each round team statistics are evaluated and teams may move up or down a tier to better suite their ability. The goal is to have teams matched in a way that provides a competitive game and a season that has a healthy balance of win, lose and draw.
When I started my two boys in hockey they knew how to skate, not well, but could get around. They had never played hockey before. The very first evaluation ice time is organized by the first letter of your last name - rather than by skill level. I knew my boys would be on the ice with the best of the best and the worst of the worst. I also knew they would be in the latter category and was steeling myself for the experience.
Ethan was up first. And just as I suspected he was among the least skilled. I was holding back the tears as I watched him skate and do the drills with determination and focus, but lagging behind everyone else on the ice. At one point he fell and started to cry. I went to the gate, helped him up and told him he was doing great and to keep at it. I really just wanted to scoop him up and run him straight to the car. (By the way - this is why Dads should be at these things with their tough love style). He got himself together and continued on. I went back to the stands and held back my tears. Even my older son was feeling it and he doesn’t even like his brother - “my heart is breaking for him, Mom” When Ethan came of the ice, I was fully expecting him to say “this sucks, I don’t want to do it.” Instead, he looked at me with bright eyes and said “I did pretty good, Mom. I just need more practice”. They will always surprise you.