COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey’s four-day Annual Congress, which capped the organization's 80th anniversary season, concluded here Saturday (June 10) with Pat Kelleher officially taking the reigns as executive director as the closing piece of business at the Board of Directors meeting.
Kelleher replaced Dave Ogrean, who held the job since 2005 and for 18 total years over two stints (1993-99; 2005-2017).
“I’m excited and humbled to have the opportunity to build on what Dave has put in place,” said Kelleher. “They are certainly big shoes to fill, but together with the best volunteers in sport, our many stakeholders, and the incredible staff we have, I look forward to working to continue to grow and advance our game.”
Every four years USA Hockey’s playing rules are evaluated and have the opportunity to be changed. With this being a rules change year, the Board voted on a number of proposed modifications. Perhaps the most notable rule change gaining approval was the elimination of the ability to ice the puck when shorthanded for age classification 14U and below. The Board also voted to strengthen language around the game misconduct penalty in Rule 601, with the new verbiage stating that a game misconduct penalty shall be issued to any player or team official who uses language that is offensive, hateful or discriminatory in nature anywhere in the rink before, during or after the game.
“I believe overall everyone feels our game is in a really good place,” said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey. “The most important thing we need to focus on is our current rules in place. Our officials play such a big role in the overall safety of the game and we appreciate their efforts to fully enforce the current standard of play that exists in the book.”
A full review of all rule modifications approved, including housekeeping updates to provide clarity for certain rules, will be available at USAHockey.com later this week.
The Board also learned during Annual Congress of record-setting participation numbers for the 2016-17 season, including new high water marks in both total number of players (555,175) and also total number of players, coaches and officials (637,444). The record-setting number of players includes a record 180,400 adult players (14th straight year of growth) and also a record number players at the 8U level (115,694).
In other action taken during the Annual Congress, a task force was appointed by president Jim Smith to address advancing USA Hockey's efforts in diversity and inclusion.
Elections took place at the Board meeting with Charles Fuertsch (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) re-elected as Vice President and chair of the Legal Council; Donna Guariglia (Morristown, N.J.) re-elected as treasurer; Mike Trimboli (Massena, N.Y.) elected as Vice President and chair of the Marketing Council, replacing Larry Reid (Rumford, R.I.), who retired after 18 years in the position and 30 years as one of USA Hockey’s most impactful volunteers; Dave Meisner (Oakdale, Minn.) and Shawna Davidson (Duluth, Minn.) were re-elected as Directors At-Large; Kaye Pinkowski (Fishers, Ind.) was elected to fill the remaining two years of Mike Trimboli’s term as a Director; Bill Daly (Kinnelon, N.J.) and Don Fehr (Prairie Village, Kan.) were re-elected to represent professional sports organizations; Mike Snee (Minneapolis, Minn.) was re-elected as an NCAA Director; and Keith Barrett (Northfield, Vt.) was elected as Director Representative to the Executive Committee. In addition, Chris Clark (South Windsor, Conn.) and Meghan Duggan (Danvers, Mass.) were re-elected as athlete directors, while new athlete directors elected to the Board include Ryan Whitney (Scituate, Mass.), Eric Nystrom (Syosset, N.Y.), John Grahame (Denver, Colo.), Michael Blabac (Hamburg, N.Y.) and Julie Chu (Fairfield, Conn.). Chu was also elected as the Athlete Representative to the Executive Committee.
The Board also unanimously voted Larry Reid (Rumford, R.I.) as Director Emeritus.
NOTES: USA Hockey President Jim Smith presented President’s Awards to Dave Meisner (Oakdale, Minn.), Bruce Urban (Tucson, Ariz.), Amy LaPoe (Naperville, Ill.), Shannon Webster (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Karen Hackman (Colorado Springs, Colo.), and Tom Hackman (Colorado Springs, Colo.) … Nearly 60 people from the NHL, its member clubs and the NHLPA, attended USA Hockey’s Annual Congress, while more than 30 people from 16 different companies participated in USA Hockey’s yearly Sponsor Summit that is held in conjunction with Annual Congress.