The Airdrie Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) recently announced that for the upcoming 2023-24 hockey season, the U17 AAA team prep camp, tryouts, evening practices as well as the majority of home games will now be in Airdrie.

This change means that the U17 AAA Airdrie-Cochrane Avalanche program will be moved to Airdrie from Cochrane. 

The team's home base has been in Cochrane since 2007. Additionally, the AA U16 Havoc will no longer be provided ice time by the Cochrane Minor Hockey Association (CMHA).

"In order to achieve our goal of building a strong AAA Elite Program the Executive Committee made this decision to have all of our AAA teams in Airdrie, to facilitate a cohesive, consistent AAA Elite program," a statement on the Airdrie minor hockey's website stated.

Head Coach Dante Raposo explained that he believes this decision will have a positive effect on team building.

"I think it helps bring everybody together. It allows kids to practice with other teams if they have to be called up. [If] in one day, you can have all four teams playing at the rink; it's just more of like a family vibe."

When asked about how many players from Cochrane will be impacted by the move, he cited that the majority of the hockey club's players last year were from Airdrie, with six players from Cochrane and one from Canmore. 

He added that some of the challenges that Airdrie hockey players experienced when it came to commuting from Airdrie to Cochrane should be alleviated especially when it comes to winter driving. Though he added that any feedback, either positive or negative would have been handled by the board committee. 

As the team's head coach, Raposo said one of the key lynchpins of his coaching strategies is to focus on helping young athletes transition from the U17 ranks into U18, and this move will help facilitate that. 

"Being able to have the U18 team right there in the same building, being able to watch them practice, being able to go to more games, being able to practice with them; just helps set the pace and get to know the coaching staff and get to know the culture."

Raposo reflected on the past year, saying that the word resiliency comes to mind when trying to encapsulate the year that has passed.

"We had a bunch of not-so-good spots during the season; Going into the playoffs - we weren't really that hot of a team. of the team," he said. "we were considered the underdogs and there wasn't really much of a chance. Then in the first game against [The Royals], we beat them in double overtime and then ended up winning the series. I don't think that very many people around the league are expecting that at all." 

With the changes being implemented, he did underline that a formalized practice schedule has not been finalized as of yet. 

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