Q: How are Travel teams selected? Travel teams are selected on a tryout basis. The coach of the team (whom is selected before tryouts are held) along with independent evaluators rate the players based on their skills and make the determination as to whom is selected. Players that do not make the team are still eligible to participate in the House program.
Q: How are Travel Coaches selected? Towards the end of every season applications are solicited from people interested in coaching a travel team for the following season. The Tri-County Travel Commissioner and Head of Coaching review the applicants and submit a recommendation to the Tri-County Executive board for approval. This occurs prior to tryouts.
Q: When are tryouts? Tryouts for travel teams occur at the end of the season. For example, tryouts for next seasons travel teams will occur late March/early April.
Q: What league do Travel teams play in? Our House teams play in the Empire Amateur Hockey Conference (EAHC). That league typically is made up of teams from the grater Rochester area including Batavia, Canandaigua, Geneseo, Monroe County, Perinton, Rochester, Tri-County and Webster. Our Travel teams play in the Western New York Amateur Hockey League (WNYAHL). That league is comprised of over 20 associations from mainly the Buffalo and Rochester area. The Girls travel teams play in the Great Lakes Girls Hockey League (GLGHL).
Q: Do we really play all those teams? No. You play the teams that have fielded a team at the age level and division you are in. Most associations, including Tri-County, do not have a team at every possible age level/division. The number of league games you will play varies based on the number of teams in your division, but will typically be in the 14-20 games range. This is similar to or slightly higher than the number of league games for a typical House team.
Q: What are the levels/divisions? In House play, teams are broken into 'A' and 'B' levels based primarily on skill (ex: Mite A, Mite B, etc). In Travel play there are distinctions for skill as well as age. For example, in WNYAHL, teams play at either a "Tier-II" or "Tier-III" level. This is a skill level distinction. Tier-III teams (sometimes referred to as 'A') are the lowest level in terms of skill. Tier-II (or 'AA') is the next highest level, etc. WNYAHL this past season also started experimenting with a small division of Tier-I (or 'AAA') teams. Within Tier-I (AAA) and Tier-II (AA) teams, there is a further distinction made based on age. This is called 'Major' or 'Minor'. A Tier-II Minor team for example is made up of players that are predominantly in their first year at that age level (ex: first year Mite players). A Tier-II Major team is made up of players that are mainly in their second year at that age level (i.e. second year Mite players). There is no age distinction made within Tier-III. A Tier-III team can have any mix of first and second year players. These teams are thus frequently referred to as Mite Mixed of Bantam Mixed versus the Major.Minor distinction.
Q: What about playoffs? Are those different? At the end of each season, there are playoffs in the WNYAHL Travel divisions that are very similar to those in House play. The number of teams that qualify for the playoffs at a particular level varies per year and is based on the overall number of teams. Standings in the division at the end of league play determines seeding in the playoffs. The exception is Midgets. WNYAHL currently does not hold playoffs at the Midget level.
Q: Is there any state level playoffs? Yes, there are state level tournaments at the end of the season for certain teams. When you field a Travel team, you must specify whether or not you want to be "statebound" (sometimes called "tournament bound" as well). If you declare yourself to be statebound, a certain number of your games over the course of the season will be designated as state qualifier games (referred to as "Q" games). Separate win/loss standings are maintained at each division for those Q games. Your final standing in those games determines whether or not you will qualify for the state tournament. Teams qualifying for the state tournament are not allowed to participate in the WNYAHL league playoffs. The level that you participate at for states is determined by the level of your association. For example, since Tri-County is a Tier-III organization, our travel teams that declare themselves as tournament bound compete at the Tier-III state level.
Q: Isn't there a large amount of travel involved? This is a common misconception. In WNYAHL the majority of the teams you meet in league play are in the Buffalo and Rochester area. In terms of distance, driving to these rinks from the Brockport area is not significantly different than driving to the rinks of many of the House teams. Our House teams currently have to travel to places like Canandaigua, Geneseo, Batavia, Perinton, etc. Depending on where you are coming from, these rinks can be 30-60 minute drives. The majority of the Buffalo area rinks can be reached within 60 minutes as well. The exceptions are Jamestown, Olean and Erie, but you may not even have to travel to those locations depending on whether or not they have a team in your division. The majority of the long distance travel comes into play with tournaments and scrimmages. Those however are completely within the control of the team. If you choose to do local tournaments only, your travel is obviously minimized.
Q: Don't travel teams end up playing a larger number of games? In general yes, but again that is controlled by the team. The number of games you have to play (league games) is usually only slightly higher than that of a typical House team. Most of the "extra" games come from scrimmages and tournaments. This is true of House teams as well. A House team that decides to participate in a large number of tournaments can end up playing just as many games in a season as a Travel team. Additionally, the extra ice time a travel time receives can be used for extra practices as well.
Q: What about the money? Isn't playing travel much more expensive? The primary difference in cost between House and Travel is in terms of the registration you pay to Tri-County, but you are getting more ice time in return. For example, the registration fee for Squirt House this season was $565. The ice allotment for those teams was 60 hours. For Squirt Travel the fee was $830, but the allotment for them was 90 hours of ice. So yes you are paying more but you also are getting much more in return. For most Travel teams, the other major expenditure comes from tournaments. Each tournament has a fee that must be paid to enter, and depending on the distance, could also include overnight stay in a hotel. The number of tournaments the team will play in, where they are, the costs, etc are typically discussed and agreed upon between the parents and coaching staff at the start of the season. Also, most Travel teams will utilize a variety of different fundraisers to minimize the out of pocket expenses.
Q: What about time? Is the time commitment large? Participating in youth hockey at any level requires a significant time commitment from players and their families. Given that Travel teams receive more ice time than House teams at the same level, the amount of time they spend at the rink over the course of a season will be slightly higher.
Q: Is the level of competition different? In general, yes. People that choose to participate on a Travel team are usually doing so because they are interested in a higher level of competition. It is still about having fun and playing hockey, just with a little higher competitive edge.
Q: Will my child get his share of ice time? In House play, the concept of "equal ice time" applies. This means that all players on the team will get a roughly equal share of ice time. In Travel this same rule does not apply, particularly at the older age levels. As you progress through the older levels of play, most teams will begin to form special teams (specific players for power plays, short handed situations, etc). In some cases, coaches may also elect to shorten their benches and put their best players on the ice at critical times. Most importantly however, ice time is usually earned through hard work and effort. If you are working hard and doing your best, you will get your share of ice time.
Q: Are there other rule differences? There are some rule differences between House play in EAHC and Travel play in WNYAHL or GLGHL, but most of them however are minor. There are slight differences in length of periods for games, rules governing penalties for individuals and teams, etc. For the most part however, the game rules are the same.
Q: Which is better? There is not a "better" choice. Both the House and Travel programs offer a competitive and enjoyable youth hockey experience for players and families alike. The difference is personal choice. If you are looking for a little more in terms of ice time and level of competition, then Travel may be the right choice for you.