The Tampa Bay Lightning, through its Community Hockey Development Department, will operate the Lightning High School Hockey League (LHSHL) beginning with the 2015-16 season in September, the club announced today.
The Board of Directors and Membership of the former Florida High School Hockey Association (FHSHA) voted to cease operations and have the Lightning organization operate, manage and administer high school hockey in the Tampa Bay region. SAHOF (Statewide Amateur Hockey of Florida) approved the transaction at its Annual Meeting, which was held on May 29 and 30 in Naples, FL.
The Lightning will now be responsible for all aspects of high school hockey in the region including admitting teams to the LHSHL, registering players, scheduling practice ice and games, securing on-ice officials, administering supplemental discipline, conducting championship playoffs and All-Star game(s), and overseeing all aspects of LHSHL operations.
In addition, the organization intends to offer both Varsity and Junior Varsity playing options for the upcoming season, and to increase the number of games played. The LHSHL will also focus on geographic and traditional rivalries while attempting to reduce travel time for players and their families.
“Our goals in operating the new LHSHL include expanding and growing participation in the game, elevating high school hockey to an advanced competitive level for student athletes, creating a developmental structure where underclassmen and women are able to improve their skills, and creating an environment where student athletes recognize the importance of academics and the need for good sportsmanship and community service,” said Jay Feaster, Executive Director of Community Hockey Development for the Lightning, and President of the new LHSHL.
The new LHSHL website iswww.LightningHighSchoolHockeyLeague.com and team registration for the 2015-16 season is now open. At a minimum the Lightning expect to ice at least 17-teams for the upcoming season, with a number of new teams expressing interest in joining the LHSHL this season or next.
While the LHSHL will be administered solely by the Lightning, an Advisory Committee has been assembled to assist the organization and provide insight on important issues.
Advisory Board members include former FHSHA Board Member and one of the founders of the FHSHA, Dan Bubley, Esq., Manatee High School Head Coach, Eric Wessel, Tampa Bay Skating Academy General Manager, Glyn Jones, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Dan Howat, and Lightning Manager of Partnerships and hockey mom, Suzy O’Malley.
Other standing Committees will include the Disciplinary Committee consisting of former FHSHA member and Director of Sales and Marketing at Innisbrook Resort, Bill McKay, Lightning Alumni, Jassen Cullimore, and Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex Director of Hockey, Fred Eaton, as well as the Boundary Committee comprised of former FHSHA President, Ed De la Paz, Lightning Alumni, Mathieu Garon, and Lightning (Senior Director, Community Relations), Kasey Smith. Additionally, other officers and directors include Community Hockey Coordinator, Tom Garavaglia and EVP of Communications Bill Wickett.