Sunday, December 28, 2014

Hockey Mom Snack Bar Queen


By Caroline Stanistreet

Dedicated to all the Hockey Rink Snack Bar Parents out there

(To be sung to the tune “Dancing Queen,” by Abba – yes, you ALL know it!)

Friday night and the grill is hot
Lookin’ at all the coffee pots
Ooooh-Whippin up the Slushees
Poppin up some ‘corn

You’re in the mood for snacks

Anybody could be that girl
Night is young and her hair will curl
Due to heat from the heat lamps
Keeping it all hot

You’re in the mood for snacks

And when you get the chance
You are the Snack Bar Queen
Rarely seen
By your hockey teen
Snack Bar Queen
Feel the cold
From that ice machine, oh yeah!!

You make change
But you can’t add
Oh – having some trouble with math
Ooooh…be that kid
Who will help
With The Snack Bar Queen

Teams are done and off the ice
Pizza’s warm, let’s have a slice
How ‘bout a drink then?
Powerade? Soda?
Or just an orange juice?

Chocolate and Skittles dominate
Push pops you really…… HAAATE
Way too sticky for your taste
You would rather have

A frappucino right about now!

But you are The Snack Bar Queen
Where’s that Zamboni machine?
Snack Bar Queen
Time to Clean
Off the grill so mean, oh yeah!

Nacho sauce
Must get tossed
Hav-ing-the-goo-on-your hands
See that soap
Don’t you mope

You are The Snack Bar Queen

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Life lessons in The Puck Hog

Life lessons in The Puck Hog

In your life experiences, how many times have you encountered the time hog, attention hog, or just plain hog?
In hockey, that person is the puck hog; the one skater who sees their role as star, scorer, winner.
How many times have your sons or daughters in pee-wee, mite or junior teams just wanted to stop playing their game stand at the boards or sit on the bench as their own personal puck hog has skated up and down the ice with nary a thought to passing the puck?The Puck Hog Cover
Or maybe even your own rec league game has its version of the puck hog.
Well, I know have seen it but Christie Casciano has taken the reaction to the level of writing about her puck hog experiences.
In The Puck Hog, Casciano takes the reader to the ice arena with her cast of characters including the book’s lead, Sophia, and the dreaded puck hog, Eddie!!
The author, Christie Casciano
Casciano has created a series of The Puck Hog (including volume 2) as a means to teach life lessons. As she says in the book’s preamble and back cover, Sophia (her daughter) and her team face challenges from opposing teams and from within their own side.
Eddie is the classic puck hog scoring half of the team’s goals in a season but never adds to the scoresheet with an assist. NEVER! as his teammates discover.
The Puck Hog (and its sequel) is a great platform for subtle messages and life lessons for the aspiring hockey player in your family. The first of the two-book series follows Sophia and her team through a season as it tries to resolve the conflict between the players and their puck hog.
There is that first glimmer of hope as the first book closes when Eddie acknowledges that “perfect pass” from Sophia for the championship-winning goal. But there is a sense that the puck hog has not learned the life lesson. That’s for Volume 2 of The Puck Hog.
The second book in the series has Sophia, her teammates and their puck hog graduating to Squirts. It is here that Eddie remains the team’s internal nemesis despite their success in the standings.
Volume 2 is subtitled Haunted Hockey in Lake Placid and rather than spoil the storyline let’s leave it as a mystery within the book’s broader lesson plan.
Sophia’s team heads to Lake Placid for a tournament that includes the much-feared Canadian team.
Eddie is still the puck hog but we are drawn along the storyline that has Casciano revealing frailty in Eddie that leads to the book’s pivotal moment of redemption for Eddie and celebration for Sophia and the team.The Puck Hog 2 Cover
In a gentle, but not so subtle manner Casciano has all the ingredients for what makes a puck hog including a domineering parent, in this case Eddie’s father who shouts demands and jeers for his son from the stands in both books.
In effect, Casciano has two life lessons, one for the puck hog and one for the parent. And by the end of the second book, son and father have their own epiphanies with recognition, growth and redemption presented for the reader.
Neither volume of The Puck Hog is syrupy, preachy or whiny. Instead, Casciano treats her target audience as young adults and offers them the problem, the process to resolution and the adult reaction to the redemption of Eddie and his father. There are no “I told you so’s” there is only welcoming of Eddie to “the team” as teammate.
And of course, there is Sophia’s mystery but you need to get the book for this little treasure of a back story.
Open today’s newspaper or latest Twitter feed and you will certainly see some report of poor behavior on or off the ice or field of play. Teaching moments are plentiful but how does one engrain good contact, sportsmanship or the concept of “the team”? That is where Christie Casciano’s The Puck Hog (both volumes!) comes in. This is a well-conceived and well-written pair of books that make the lessons easy to read for children and easy for the hockey players’ parents to respond to and enhance.
Rose Mary Casciano Moziak’s illustration rendition
The author Christie Casciano is an anchor with WSYR television in Syracuse, NY. The Puck Hog was illustrated by Rose Mary Casciano Moziak, Christie’s sister.
Both volumes of The Puck Hog are available through the publisher, North Country Books, Inc (
Contact Christie through Twitter @ccasciano

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tip for Team Dinners Out

      It helps to plan. It's no fun showing up announced with a crowd of parents, siblings and sixteen sweaty hockey players. Especially when you're out of town, between games, and pressed for time.  Hats off to our coach this weekend who called a few days before our double matchup in Glens Falls. He secured a room at a restaurant with a reputation for good food and being very accommodating.

   We were seated as soon as we arrived, giving all of us parents chance to warm our chilled bones and giving the players a chance to heat up the Foosball table and do a little off- ice team bonding.


    We ordered off the menu with separate checks using  our player's jersey number. This allowed our players, parents and siblings to sit at different tables. It also cut down on the time waiting to figure out who owes what.

                         So we all got back to the rink in plenty of time for our second game.

                                                     Which ended in another tie. Sigh.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Concussion Care Can be Challenging for Parents

Concussion Care Challenges for Parents
as seen in USA Hockey Magazine Nov.2014

     Given what we’ve learned about the long-term damage of concussions,  I wish I could wrap my hockey player in bubble wrap.  There was a time when I rarely heard about concussions. But now?  There isn’t a season that goes by that I haven’t either witnessed a bad head injury or sat next to a parent  whose kid was out with one.
      West Springfield, Ma. Hockey mom Tiffany Basile  learned  about  concussions  in the hardest way possible for any mom. Her daughter ‘s talent and passion as a goalie put her on the radar with colleges and coaches.  Kaylee’s was riding high in her senior year, until her head suffered a blow when the opposing team stormed the net.  She was out with a concussion for a week.  A second hit to the head  that  took a real toll.  Kaleigh’s eyes couldn’t follow a pen, her balance was off.  She failed every computer brain test. When feelings of anxiety and depression set in, an MRI was ordered.  During the test,  Kaleigh suffered a seizure and  results confirmed what Basile had feared.  The risk of Kaleigh going back out on the ice, was too great.  “Breaking the news that she could never play again was horrible and heartbreaking.” But Basile says there simply was no option. “ It was best for her to steer clear of any activities that can risk more harm and inury. Her health and safety are first.” Basile advises parents to get educated about the signs and symptoms and educate your kids as best you can, “ I’m thankful to have my daughter with me after all she has been through.”

  Hockey dad Greg Jewett, also a phys ed teacher for Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, N.Y.  raises concerns about protocol, especially  when it comes to returning to the ice after  a concussion. Last season’s Pee Wee coach was very supportive when his son, Alec, missed practices after suffering a mild concussion. But do all coaches feel that way?  Since it is not monitored by a school, it is a slippery slope. “ I think that youth hockey organizations should adopt the impact testing that high schools use as a way to measure brain activity and if a player is ready to return,” says Jewett.  “ But there are no trainers on site, no testing in place and this is a problem for youth hockey going forward.”
    Jewett raises a valid point that without a known protocol for an organization, it is difficult to enforce any rules and players often return too soon whether it be peer, coaching or parental influence to return to the ice too soon.

  Concussion care is challenging.  While we can’t reach for the bubble wrap , we can wrap ourselves in knowledge, seek timely medical treatment  and work on helping our teams develop protocol on when it’s safe for kids to suit up again.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hockey Family Meal Planning

   Take two parents who work full time, add hockey playing children, a cup of after-school activities, a dose of volunteer work, a pound of housework and what have you got? The recipe for a nightly dinner dilemma!  What’s a hockey family to do? The crockpot just may ease your hockey season indigestion. By simply dumping everything into the slow cooker in the morning, dinner is ready for your family in time for late-night hockey practices. Bam! You’ve just saved yourself time, money and whipped up a healthful alternative to the fast food pit-stop. 
   No question it works for hockey families by adding the much needed ingredient of comfort to a long, cold and sometimes stressful season. 
Here are a few of our favorite recipes.

Recipes by Syracuse Nationals Hockey mom Kim Tretowicz
Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip

2 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese
3-4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 cup Frank’s hot sauce
1 cup ranch dressing
1 cup blue cheese dressing
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3-4 stalks of chopped celery ( add to dip or serve on the side)

1.       Combine all ingredients into crock pot
2.       Reserve some cheddar cheese for the top
3.       Cook on low for 2 hours
4.       Just before serving, add the reserved cheese to the top and allow to melt

Pot Roast:

31/2-4 pounds of Chuck Roast
1 onion quartered and sliced
6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
6 medium potatoes, quartered and halved

1.       Brown roast over medium heat on top of range. Season if desired. Transfer to crockpot
2.       Place onion, carrots, & potatoes around roast. Add ½ cup of water. Season with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, etc.
3.       Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours

A plea to hockey parents: don’t be your kid’s worst enemy | Post-to-Post

A plea to hockey parents: don’t be your kid’s worst enemy | Post-to-Post

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Power Play Nutrition for Your Kids

So what can you do to increase the number of hours your youth ice hockey player sleeps? What's the number one energy-sucking food for your kids? Read on!

Power Play Nutrition for Your Kids

Monday, October 20, 2014

Goalie Training Aid (Used in Canada,U.S.A.& Europe)

Hockey Goalie Training  -
by Bob Unger
The importance of goaltending to a hockey team cannot be overstated but, unfortunately, for a variety of reasons the attention paid to the training and development of goalies is typically an afterthought to the team practice. It is not uncommon to see the goalie spending half of the allotted practice time standing still.

As a former goalie, when I began coaching, my focus was ensuring I paid special attention to that critical position. While working with the goalies I was frustrated by my inability to prevent them from constantly backing up into the net instead of challenging shooters in practice sessions. Adding to that frustration was the fact that there were no training aids out there dedicated solely to goalie development. As a result, I realized I’d have to develop my own product to solve the “backing into the net” dilemma. After much development and trial the Goalie Band was created. While its’ initial use was to promote the challenging of the shooter, further drills have been developed to practice handling screen shots and working on reaction time, in addition to drills for shooters. 

As a result of demonstrating the Goalie Band to a number of hockey professionals including, Sean Burke (Phoenix Coyotes Goalie Coach) and Rick St. Croix (Toronto Maple Leafs Goalie Coach), as well as many amateur players of all ages, I have received much positive feedback and interest across North America and Europe. The Goalie Band is currently being used at the Czech International Goalie Camp 2014

For more information on the Goalie Band please visit its web page or see me on Twitter @goalieband
Thank you,
Bob Unger
“Helping Coaches Coach”
Twitter - @goalieband

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Unconventional Hockey Grandmom

by Caroline Stanistreet

     Now that the ice is made in most rinks in Central New York, hockey season is once again upon us.  But this year, it’s a little different as there is a Hockey Grandmom in heaven now, cheering on all the Tykes, Mites, Squirts, and any kid who is lacing up his or her skates for the next several months. That Hockey Grandmom was my mother, Jackie Coley. Her passing was one of those special occurrences that you sometimes hear about.  She died at 12:05 a.m., just 5 minutes into her 90th birthday. Since then, I have heard all kinds of amazing reactions and stories about that accomplishment.  First, living until the age of 90 in our world is quite a feat in itself!  One of the other things I’ve heard from a few people is that since her passing was an exact “circle of life” from birth until death, they are given extra special blessings in heaven.  I’ve read other obituaries about deaths on birthdays and wedding anniversaries and it seems more frequent than I first thought. And when her tired body began the shutdown to the time of passing, there was a Supermoon, which shined into the night on that August 9th. Cool stuff!

Jackie Coley 
                                Jackie Coley

Jackie was a columnist for The Syracuse Post-Standard.  She wrote the “Social Notebook” for 22 years, and loved every minute of it. So here’s that unconventional part of Jackie - behind those fancy dresses, high heels and reporter’s notebook was a hockey grandmom.  Jackie was not your “typical” grandmom though.  Those grandmoms attend every single game no matter the time or temperature, but let me first share a little background on her marvelous and wonderful life.

     She became a huge hockey lover because she married a huge hockey player - my father - Dan Coley, in 1956.  Dan played defense at Colgate University, and was co-captain of Colgate’s only undefeated team in 1947 when they finished at 13-0!

Co-Captains Dan Coley and Allen Short (1947) at Colgate’s then-roofless rink!

     Years later, when my sister Melissa attended Colgate in the mid 70s, Mom would often accompany Dad to the village of Hamilton to watch some great Colgate hockey games. They would meet up with Melissa and her friends in the stands, and amidst conversations, Mom would cringe while Dad would tell the ref what he was supposed to do.  She would also accompany my dad to the Syracuse Invitational Tournament, held at the War Memorial and usually featured Colgate and 3 other top-notch college hockey teams, like Cornell and Clarkson.  Never mind the hockey game itself, as Mom could not wait to visit the Colgate hospitality room and do her usual socializing!!  She would still wear her fur coat, even if the War Memorial is known to be slightly warmer than most other rinks.

     This went on for a few years until I attended Oswego State in the 80s, but she chose not to venture to Oswego’s hockey rink…only to Oswego’s swimming pool at Laker Hall, where I used to compete.  There, my father would yell, but not at the officials, but at me while I attempted to “sprint” during the 500 yard freestyle.  Jackie would wear that coat into the 85-degree pool area, as she was still thawing out from the late January walk from the parking lot.   My Dad passed away in 1982, but she continued to attend my swim meets.  Shortly after I graduated, she began writing the column she so dearly loved.
     Fast forward to the late 90s – and there came the grandkids!  As a result, there was another “circle of life,” or should I say, circle of hockey games again. While Jackie was in the midst of writing the “Social Notebook,” which required attending fundraisers about 4 or 5 times a week, she still found the time to watch some of her grandsons’ youth hockey games. She would visit my sister Melissa, her husband Jay, and grandson Jack during Christmas breaks in New Jersey and watch Jack’s holiday hockey games and tournaments.  Upon her return, and always donned in that fur coat, she would venture to Shove Park in Camillus and watch my son Sean and dozens of other 4-year-old boys literally trip, tumble and pour onto the ice for the annual “TykeFest.”

 “Grandma Jackie” and Grandson Sean

     She became quite enchanted with the development of youth hockey, which our father Dan and his brother Trey were also involved with for years in Buffalo.  Undaunted by what her editors told her not to write about as a social columnist, she covered the dedication ceremony of the new Shove Park locker room expansion for one of her Social Notebook columns in 2007.  She told me it was one of the best stories she had ever written, and a framed version of her story still proudly hangs on a wall at Shove Park – but not near the hockey rink, rather, in the more appropriate Community Room!

Jackie’s favorite story

     So, Hockey Grandmoms out there, this tribute to my mom is for YOU!  Your kids and grandkids thank you for loving them enough to help them with transportation, taking weekend trips to tournaments, or buying your grandchild a post-game hot chocolate.  And to them, it really doesn’t matter whether you wear a fur coat, a down jacket, or a hockey jersey to the games. Just being there is enough! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Finding Your Team Role

as seen in USA Hockey Magazine  

  So who wants to be a team manager? I remember one season when the coach asked that question and all the parents lowered their heads. No hands went up. No surprise there. Who has the time and the energy for taking and making countless phone calls, booking teams, tournaments, organizing fundraisers and dealing with parents? It's challenging enough to get a decent meal in your kid’s belly and to the rink on time with all their equipment. Pile more duties onto an already full plate of just being a hockey parent? Run the risk of a mid-season meltdown? No thank you!

   In the excitement of a new season, and when no one else is volunteering, you might be tempted to find that inner hero and stick up your hand for every job. But journalist and hockey mom Randi Chapnik Myers, who blogs at, has some cautionary advice for those who get the urge to strap on the super hockey mom or dad cape. “Remember that it's a long year, especially if you have other kids, and school/work will heat up, too. Bottom Line: If you take on more than your share, you'll burn out fast,” says Chapnik Myers. Think about what you're really good at and stick to it. One mom was a photographer and she had her camera at every game. At season's end, she made a phenomenal book of photos for each player. Start with one job. You can always take on more.”
      If you do take on a leadership role, realize the job calls for diplomacy says Oswego, N.Y. hockey mom Carla Peacock. She and her husband should know, having evolved from youth hockey coach and manager to college club hockey coach and manager. “It is important that you don’t come in like you know it all, and try to take over,” says Peacock. “There are people who enjoy helping as much as you do.”
    Hummelstown, PA hockey mom Jen Kurzenknabe mastered the task of team manager by organizing and delegating, “Being a hockey manager can be challenging, but once you have all the initial things done for your team like the meetings, paperwork and volunteers, it is very rewarding to see all of your effort and planning put into action.”
        Teams need parents to step up and there’s a job for everyone. Remember, just like your kid’s team, it should be all for one and one for all.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top 10 Youth Hockey Myths

When I was new to the sport of youth ice hockey, a well-intentioned hockey dad told me, “Don’t buy big when it comes to skates. Buy the best stick.”  A $200 starter stick?  Gulp!  Thank goodness that didn’t prove to be true.  An inexpensive stick won’t cheat your child out of her goals.  When you’re just starting out, bad advice can spin you in all the wrong directions.  I teamed up with veteran Camillus, N.Y. hockey mom Caroline Stanistreet to help set the record straight with our list of Top 10 Youth Hockey Myths. - 

See more at: 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Despicable Me vs Respectable Me Hockey Parent

Don't Be That Hockey Parent

as seen in USA Hockey Magazine September 2014

It might sound crazy what I’m about to say …

We’ve all met them before (and if you haven’t met them, then we’re talking about you) – The Despicable Me Hockey Parent. They’re the ones hurling insults during a heated game, chastising the ref’s, or playing Scotty-Bowman-from-the-stands.

Before you fall into this trap, why not consider the following, and make a run for The Respectable Me Parent?

     Learn the value of restraint. It’s something Jr. Coyotes of Az. goalie mom Sharon Enck, AKA Puck Gal, has. “Everyone will forgive you if you forget the team snack, but may not be as quick to turn the other cheek if you spew obscenities at a game.” Enck says it’s best to avoid being the parent everyone hates, for your sake and your child’s.
     As for the game’s sake, parent behavior needs to change says Buffalo, NY HARBORCENTER Vice president and Academy of Hockey Director Kevyn Adams. “It seems that in sports today, the concept of good sportsmanship is lost and parents should remember to behave in an honorable way that we would want our kids to emulate in the future.”
    Back stabbing the coach is a major parent offense. “By undermining your child’s coach, you’re taking away the coach’s credibility and giving your child a reason not to listen to them,” says Adams. “Should your comments leak into the locker room, how awkward that would be?” asks Enck.  
     Think refs are fair game for insults? USA hockey development program official Chris Costa asks that you think about the impact name calling in the stands can have on calls made on the ice, “For young, inexperienced officials, it could affect the next call, distract them for potential goals or violent plays. The aggression can also develop officials that are fearful to make the right call,” says Costa.  

Active but not Over Reactive
  After years of playing, coaching and going to rinks with his own son, Adams has yet to come across a kid who likes losing. But a loss can be a win, with the right spin. “Leave it on the ice,” says Adams. “Encourage them to control the factors that they have control over, such as giving 100% effort on the ice.” If you lighten up, Adams says your kids will enjoy the game more and worry less about the outcome – something out of their control. 
     There’s no post game analysis for Enck, “I let my daughter talk, uninterrupted for five minutes after a game. Once the five minutes are up, we’re done.”

     Keep the passion positive and let other mamas have the drama. “Talking smack about other kids and parents is bad form. And it’s a small world, so remember that if your kid stays in the sport long enough you will see them again,” says Enck.

     Perhaps there’s nothing more discouraging to a child than post game antics by parents.  “In those cases where you do become upset, remove yourself from the environment so your child doesn’t see your negativity,” says Adams.

Youth Sports
     Sports can bring out the best in us. It can also bring out the worst. Leave “despicable me” at home. Be that Honorable, Active, Passionate, Patient with our Youth parent – you’ll soon learn you don’t to be wearing Pharrell’s oversized hat to be Happy.  

Syracuse hockey mom Christie Casciano Burns is the author of The Puck Hog and Haunted Hockey in Lake Placid.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Trading Places

                                     Trading Places with Amanda Kessel
                                                    by Sophia Burns
                                                         Age 12 

With 108 goals Amanda Kessel, Olympic
hockey superstar, is living my dream of being a successful woman who has literally
achieved many goals. This 22 year old gutsy hockey player has incredible speed,
skill, style, determination, and with a hockey stick in her hands, can do
things that are amazing and admirable. It would be a thrill for me to stride,
glide, stick handle the puck  in the net
the way she does and make scoring look so easy. As a young hockey player, I
dream of getting to the point where she is now in her hockey career and seeing
all the hard work pay off. I would love to know what that’s like, even for just
a day. I would want to be Amanda Kessel because she is admirable, relatable,
and an inspirational player and person.
            There are many qualities that I
admire about Kessel as an outstanding hockey player. Amanda Kessel also played
on a boys’ team until the age of 15, and had taught me not to be intimidated by
stronger, bigger players. In the Olympics at Sochi, Russia Kessel had 4 goals,
and 6 assists. I was in awe while watching the Olympic hockey games, and the
people who represented our country. Kessel lead her team in many victories and
few loses. The women’s team won a silver medal after a tough lost to Canada in
overtime. Even though Kessel and her team hadn’t won gold I admire her for her
perseverance, passion, and love of the game. She may not be coming home with
the gold, but she has the spirit of a champion

AddThis - Get likes, get shares, get followers

Ask Questions Today. Avoid Heartburn Tomorrow

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hockey's Alphabet Soup

As seen in USA Hockey Magazine
  By Christie Casciano Burns

  For people outside of youth hockey, AAA is the number you call when your car breaks down.  AA puts you on a twelve step program to sobriety. A is the grade you want on your child’s report card. But those letters have a whole different meaning to hockey parents.
    USA Hockey designates certain leagues throughout the country to create separate levels of play. Tier 1or AAA offers the highest level of competition with between 60 and 90 games per season!
   “AAA hockey can be a great environment to play and develop for players who want that challenge. Scouts and recruiters will pay the most attention to the AAA level because, by definition, that’s where they will find the largest pool of talented players,” according to Deputy Executive Director of College Hockey Inc, Nate Ewell. 

Aaron Haider’s son Ethan plays goalie for the AAA 2001 Minnesota Blades and says, “It has helped him become the goalie he is today.” Diane Firmani made her son wait until he could drive before letting him join a AAA team because of the hour-and- a-half long drive from Wasilla to Anchorage, and up to $7,000 in costs and fees.
    The intensity of AAA hockey can build players and families, but it can also break them if they’re not careful. “It’s important that families continue to check themselves each season to make sure they are participating in AAA hockey for the right reasons,” said Jim Sarosy, chief operating officer for the Syracuse Crunch (AHL).  Ewell also points out, constantly trying to “play up” at the highest level can sometimes hurt if a player doesn’t get enough ice time.
   “Honestly, it doesn’t make a particle of difference until Midgets,” said Firmani. “At the young levels, it’s merely bragging rights for parents and instant martyrdom. Some parents have refinanced their houses for AAA!”
     Minnesota’s Champlin Park Hockey Association President Peter Williams advises parents to be smart consumers, “Pick a program that has quality coaching, convenient location and predetermined costs. If they ask for an open ended commitment, don’t do it.” William’s children now concentrate on training and play multiple sports.
    Move up the levels – or don’t -- for the right reasons:  for your child, not your ego or your frustrated dreams of professional glory.

   And keep in mind staff writer Mike Morreale’s assessment of hockey alphabet soup, “If you’re good enough, you will be found whether it’s A, AA or AAA. Players aren’t defined by a letter. They define themselves.”