Tryout and Placement Policy


Tryouts for all travel teams (Mite-Midgets) occur in March. The Board of Directors is responsible for establishing the rules and formats associated with the tryout sessions. Note that to be eligible for tryouts, a player must be registered in advance online at

The purpose of tryouts is to evaluate a player's skating ability and hockey skills in order to place him or her within a team that will provide the best environment for improving their self-confidence and enjoyment of the sport of ice hockey.

Players or families that have past due tuition balances from prior seasons will not be allowed to try out until outstanding balances have been paid in full or satisfactory payment arrangements have been made with the association's Treasurer and President.

A Board-approved evaluation group using a scoring system approved by the VP of Travel will evaluate skating ability, hockey skills, and game awareness at each level during scheduled tryout sessions. All levels will include a scrimmage component as part of the evaluation process.

Additional input to a player's respective hockey abilities and understanding of team concepts will be provided by the previous year's coaching staff. That input will be solicited through a standardized player evaluation form that is provided to coaches prior to tryouts. The evaluations are confidential. At no time will the evaluations be shared or witnessed with any non-approved Board member including parents or players.

We recommend that players attend all tryout sessions. A player is required to attend the tryouts to be placed on the appropriate team. Regardless of the player’s ability, the failure to attend two tryout sessions may result in the player being rostered on the bottom team in their age group. In the fall of the new season, depending on team compositions, players may be considered for promotion through the call-up process.

When a player's inability to attend the tryouts as a result of a family-related conflict and/or illness or injury, a player may request in writing that they be evaluated by the a three-member committee consisting of the President, VP of Travel, and Coaching Director. This is only in extreme cases, and no evaluation will be conducted unless the request is provided in writing to the President and Registrar prior to the commencement of the tryout process. Any decision on whether such an evaluation will be conducted will be made by the Executive Committee within 10 business days of the written request.

In accordance with Massachusetts Hockey’s rules and by-laws, non-Newton residents are allowed to tryout providing they are not fiscally delinquent with tuition payments from another town or program. All non-Newton residents are held to the same rules as a standing NYH member. No NYH team may have more than three players from any outside program unless it is approved by the Executive Committee and the Massachusetts Hockey District 9 Registrar. All requests for roster exemptions outside this three player limit are required in writing by the head coach prior to the completion of the roster. An Executive Committee ruling will be issued within five business days of the hearing and final approval is subject to approval by the Massachusetts Hockey District 9 Registrar.

The Roster Placement Process

The roster placement process consists of five steps.

  1. 2+ coaches’ season ratings
  2. On-ice evaluations at tryouts
  3. Current season team level in the Valley Hockey League (VHL)
  4. VP Travel initial team placement
  5. Board final roster review

The first three items provide numerical rating data used for initial stacked ranking. The last two are qualitative adjustments to make sure the math makes sense.

2+ Coaches’ Season Ratings

The coaches’ rating carries the most weight. With five or six months of experience behind them by the time of their evaluations, coaches have the most comprehensive sense of the players’ abilities and teammate qualities. We have mandated that at least two coaches participate in the ratings to prevent one extreme relationship from being unfairly influential.

On-Ice Evaluations at Tryouts

Next involves the tryout ratings. This past season included five independent evaluators selected from board discussion and approval plus the age group level head. Tryouts and coaches’ ratings account for the bulk of the input to roster placements.

Current Season Team Level in the VHL

We also consider the Valley Hockey League competitive level as a factor to differentiate between players moving up in age group. For example, a Peewee playing on the top NYH team in the Elite division will gain preference in this category over a returning Bantam third team player that was on the 113th out of 151 VHL Bantam teams. Compared to the previous two factors, this receives a modest weighting.

VP Travel Initial Team Placement

The VP Travel is responsible for roster placements. They make the first pass based on the numerical rating data as described above. After the initial pass the VP is responsible to notice any anomalies or irregularities in the scoring system. The VP of travel will make several passes at each placement using all the scoring system tools as well as a coach’s comments to make sure the placement is accurate and appropriate for the player.

Final Board Roster Review

Various Board members may review the final rosters with input likely from at least the Coaching Director and the President but may include others with knowledge about specific players. Major changes are rare at this stage, but players on the bubble are occasionally moved up or down.

At the end of the process, the following input has been received:

  • 2 coaches (scores averaged)
  • 5 tryouts evaluators (scores averaged)
  • 1 VP – Travel (stack ranked scores)
  • 2+ Board members (qualitative input)

While some of the evaluators above are involved more than once, there are up to 12 different input opportunities factoring into the roster placement. No individual can significantly affect roster placement.

Roster Placement Principles

  • Every player trying out will be evaluated and considered for placement on the highest team, regardless of prior season team placement or age.
  • If two players are being considered for the last spot on the same team and both have been evaluated and determined to be of equal skill, the second year player will be placed ahead of the younger player.
  • Due to shifting numbers of players in a given age group and the talent level of the incoming, younger age group, a player may remain stationary or in some instances drop down.

Placement Requests

Specific team assignment requests are generally not permitted and should only be made in cases of extreme hardship. All such requests must be submitted in writing to the Board of Directors detailing the need for the placement and will be considered only if the request is for participation on a lower level team within the player's age bracket. Placements will not be made if it would significantly impact the makeup and skill level of a lower level team. 

Playing Above Age Level

As a rule, Newton Youth Hockey does not permit players to tryout above his/her age level. There may be a situation where the program allows a player to tryout in a higher age bracket if that placement is determined to be beneficial to the program as a whole. All petitions for placement above a player's age level should be submitted in writing directly to the President of the Association and any decisions will be subject to the approval of the Board of Directors.

If a player is found to be in violation by playing out of a registered age level without Board of Director approval other than being allowed to play up a level for no more than six league games, they will be subject to an Executive Committee of the Board of Directors disciplinary hearing. Both the player and that player's coach, if they had knowledge of such a violation, may be suspended from participation in the program for up to one year.

A Note to Parents

  • Help your child deal constructively with the evaluation and placement process. Your encouragement to play hard and have fun will do more to promote success in hockey and beyond than moving up one team level.
  • Understand that the Roster Placement Process is subjective. Each evaluator values hockey attributes differently. Those involved in the placement process must make difficult decisions at times. The Board has made every effort to create a fair process that relies on volunteers doing their best.
  • Rosters are structured such that there is some room for upward mobility at the beginning of each season. Each time most often needs are to add one or two skaters, and there is a process for calling up the best players from the team below. Encourage your player to commit to being the best they can be when that opportunity presents.
  • Newton Youth Hockey is a town hockey program comprised of volunteers. We prioritize players having fun, wanting to return next season, and improving hockey skills in that order, and that is independent of team placement level.
  • If you have a question about where your child was placed, please contact the Vice President – Travel.

Final Note

The goal of the NYH Tryout process is to fairly evaluate players and place them on the best team that matches their skill level, and ability in the fairest way possible, using many ‘checks and balances’. NYH recognizes that there is no perfect process, and that there will always be players and parents who will disagree with the decisions. This will always exist in the case of a selective tiered (1, 2, 3…) system. We believe that our process is reasonable and fair, providing a player the opportunity to play on a team that is matched to that player’s overall ability.

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