Minnesota Hockey announced a modification to its age classifications on July 18. The change will move the starting date of each classification from July 1 to June 1 (ex: June 1, 2009 – May 31, 2011), starting in the 2020-2021 season. The Minnesota Hockey Board of Directors approved the change at its summer meeting in June, following an extended period of discussion and review.
The change is designed to provide players born in June with the ability to play with their classmates. Previously, players born in June, who started kindergarten at age 6, were forced to play in an age classification one year above their grade level and were forced to move up to high school as ninth graders. The modification will align June birthdays with July and August birthdays, ensuring more players have a positive youth hockey experience and providing a smoother transition to high school hockey.
“One of the greatest attributes of our community-based model in Minnesota is the opportunity for players to play with classmates and friends throughout their youth hockey career,” said Minnesota Hockey President-elect Steve Oleheiser. “The action of changing the cutoff birthdate by the Minnesota Hockey Board of Directors reaffirms the commitment of the board to our model and allowing players to play with their classmates and friends.”
Minnesota Hockey has historically aligned its age classifications with school age cutoffs, rather than the birth year age range (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31) utilized in other parts of the country, with the purpose of allowing kids to play hockey with their friends from school. Originally, the classification cutoff date was Sept. 1, which mirrored school age classifications.
When USA Hockey moved its classification dates to July 1 during the 1990’s, Minnesota Hockey adjusted to July 1 as well, with the purpose of aligning with the national classifications. USA Hockey later reverted to using birth years for age classifications, but Minnesota chose to stay with the July 1 cutoff as it accommodated players with birthdays in August and July who started kindergarten a year later.
Surveys of current hockey players with summer birthdays have now shown the more natural breaking point for a cutoff is June 1 as a significant percentage of June birthdays also start kindergarten at age 6, similar to August and July birthdays. Under the new classifications, June birthdays who start school at age 5 will still have the option to play up with their classmates, just as August and July birthdays currently do.
Since registration for the 2019-2020 season has already opened, the modification will be implemented starting with the 2020-2021 season. For official Minnesota Hockey age classifications for the current season, click here.
Minnesota Hockey, a USA Hockey affiliate, is the governing body of youth hockey in Minnesota. With over 67,000 registered players and coaches, it is the largest state governing body for hockey in the United States. Minnesota Hockey surpassed 18,800 8 & Under players and 50 alumni in National Hockey League for the first time ever during the 2017-18 season, setting new records for participation and elite players in the same season.