In May, 1972, twenty representatives from youth hockey clubs in New Jersey and Pennsylvania met in Princeton, New Jersey to assess the feasibility of establishing a district under the banner of the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States, (AHAUS). Following the meeting, Dr. Earl Hoerner and Lester Dodson attended the AHAUS Annual Meeting in Chicago. AHAUS officially chartered the Mid-Atlantic Amateur Hockey Association as District IV in June, 1972. The District later became known as the Atlantic Amateur Hockey Association (AAHA).
Dr. Hoerner became the first President and first AHAUS Director from District IV. He served form 1972 until 1977. He also became the first Chairman of the AHAUS Safety and Protective for the year. Ernie Anastasia became the second President in 1977 and also served as an AHAUS Director for that year.
Les Dodson became the first AHAUS Registrar for the District in 1972. Jim Measday moved from Secretary/Treasurer of the District to the position of AHAUS Registrar.
With the establishment of Hockey Central in 1976, the AAHA became the first AHAUS District or Affiliate with a Service Bureau to provide support for its teams, leagues, AHAUS appointees, and District officials. When Hockey Central turned its focus away from the AHAUS and its support activities, the Atlantic Amateur Hockey Association formed the Service Bureau. The AAHA maintains full control of and responsibility for the Service Bureau. Hockey Central was funded by the Philadelphia Flyers, Ken Gesner and Aaron Siegel who was Hockey Central’s first president and who later went on to be the President of the Spectrum. He was also President of the Atlantic Junior Hockey League and the Atlantic Youth Hockey League.
1978 saw our first coaching clinic with USA Hockey under the auspices of the Philadelphia Flyers. Jim Shute, who was coach of Conestoga High School and with the Little Flyers, became the District’s second Coach-in-Chief, preceding Steve Penman and Jim Plunkett.
In 1978, Ken Gesner became the third President of the Atlantic Amateur Hockey Association and he was also elected the AHAUS Director from District IV. A new era began for the District. Leagues became stronger and larger with direct representation of the District Board of Directors to broaden the scope of the Board. District tournaments were expanded to include “B” and “C” levels, as well as House Leagues. Winners and runnersup received the same recognition as teams in Open or Tier I tournaments.
1979 saw the debut of the Pepsi Shootout, television segment shown between period of Flyers telecasts which had Gene Hart, Mike Emrick and Andy Abramson as announcers.
In 1980, Andy Abramson became the third Registrar for the District. The District, which had grown in every year since its inception, expended from approximately 300 to 800 teams during Andy’s seven years as AHAUS Registrar. He helped to create and became the main thrust of the District’s first service bureau, Hockey Central.
1980 also saw the Flyers through Hockey Central start the Flyers Cup first with the three Southeast PA high school leagues, expanding to 4 and in 1981, the first ever Pennsylvania Cup. The key here was that through Hockey Central, starting in 1976, the high schools joined USA Hockey (then AHAUS) and the AAHA.
1981 saw the start of the Garden State Games inclusion of hockey, funded largely by Ken Gesner and 1982 saw the start of the Keystone State Games with hockey included started with the funding of Hockey Central, local rinks, Ken Gesner and the late Frank Black who was USA Hockey Director from the Mid-America District.
1981 was also the first year the Atlantic District participated in the USA Hockey Olympic Development camps in Colorado Springs. Andy Abramson served as chief counselor, the late Mike Condon and eventual NHL Game Official Pat DePauzzo served as counselors and officiated some games there.
In 1982, the AAHA became the first AHAUS District to provide mandatory Blanket Liability coverage, including all member teams and leagues, as well as the affiliate. Three years later AHAUS adopted their National Blanket Liability Program.
In 1984, Hockey Central was incorporated into the Flyers Office of Amateur Hockey Affairs as Andy Abramson was both a Flyers employee and President of Hockey Central who led the activities until 1988.
In 1988, Joan Schofield became the fourth AHAUS Registrar and the first female AHAUS appointee in the nation. In 1988 Joan helped to create and became the first Executive Director of the Atlantic Amateur Hockey Service Bureau. The Bureau replaced Hockey Central with respect to support activities for the AHAUS appointees, the District Secretary, and District Guide Editor. The Service Bureau also provides on an as-needed basis, services for our leagues and teams.
Ken Gesner retired in the Spring of 1990 and Jim Plunkett was elected to finish the remaining year of Ken’s term as AAHA President
The District registered over 1000 teams for the first time in its history and Jim was also elected as an AHAUS Director. Jim has serviced the Atlantic District as its Executive Vice President and has been the AHAUS Coaching Program Director for the Atlantic District.
Jim Plunkett retired June of 1995 and was replaced as President in August 1995 at the Annual Meeting by Tom Koester. Tom was the Executive Vice President and is the second USA Director from our District.
Late 1990s and Today
With Jim Plunkett’s retirement as a USA Hockey Director in 1996 at the annual meeting Larry Thomas was elected for the 1996-1999 term. As the second director from the AAHA, Larry was also elected as the Executive Vice President.
In 1997, Joan Schofield retired as Registrar and was replaced by Tony Montagna. Joan was elected as a Director Emeritus. Tom Koester was re-elected President for 1997-1999, and USA Hockey Director for the 1997-2000 term.
Another milestone was reached in 1998, the District registered over 2000 teams in that year. This entitled the AAHA to a third USA Hockey Director, Joan Mariconda, elected for the 1999-2002 term. Also, four new vice president positions were added to the executive committee, Player Development, Coaching, Refereeing, and Women’s Hockey.
Tom Koester was re-elected in 1999 as President for the 1999-2001 term. Larry Thomas was elected USA Hockey Director for the 1999-2002 term. New AAHA Appointee positions Rink Liasion, Marketing, Legal Advisor and Travel Director were added.