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Bantam Elite Announces Expansion

The Bantam Elite League is now entering its fifth year and we are excited to announce some enhancements that will make the program even stronger.

Starting in the fall of 2018, we are adding the Bantam Elite Minor level. This division will run three weekends in September; the first weekend will be played in Grand Forks at Ralph Engelstad Arena, the second weekend will be held in Bloomington at BIG and the championship weekend will be held at MAP Hockey Training Facility at STIA in Mendota Heights. The league will attract the top players going into their first year of Bantams in Minnesota and North Dakota. Players born between July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005 will be invited by the league at the completion of this season. The league will have six teams, an all-North team composed of player from northern Minnesota (Minnesota Hockey districts 11, 12, 15 and 16), an all-North Dakota team and four teams from the Twin Cities.

“For a number of years now, the Bantam Elite League has provided an amazing venue for the best players to showcase their talents and compete with and against one another. Tony Zosel has done an exceptional job creating this environment and we look forward to working together to further enhance the competitiveness and overall player experience for all Bantam-eligible athletes as we launch this Minor Division,” said Joel Owens, President/CEO of MAP Hockey.

As for the BEL (Major Bantam), some changes have been implemented. The first of which is the expansion of teams from 6 to 8 (North Dakota and Wisconsin). The number of rostered skaters per team is being reduced from 18 to 15. A new player substitute system will be implemented with the addition of a metro alternate team. This team will have a limited game schedule and each of its players will be available to sub for weekend games in the event of illness, injury or schedule conflicts to rostered BEL players. MAP Hockey is also implementing a more involved process to select the very best coaches for each BEL team that will ensure the best development opportunity and experience for our players within the League.

Wes Jirovec, long-time Director at MAP Hockey, has been appointed as the Metro Director for the Bantam Elite League. “One of our biggest priorities as a group is to improve the player experience. The league is a phenomenal opportunity to make an impact on these young, impressionable players. We are looking to implement the same values in the BEL that have made our player experience at MAP Hockey as beneficial and healthy as it has been for a very long time.”

We were fortunate to add Greg Hanson (North Director) and Cory Dauner (North Dakota Director) to our team to represent the BEL and strengthen our staff expertise/commitment to the athletes and parents. MAP Hockey’s Dean Weasler has been appointed Director of Operations & Goaltending for the league as a whole. Todd Hauch and Tony Zosel have been and will continue to be instrumental in the BEL success and will remain the League Director.

Overall, the current changes being implemented will provide a significant boost across the board for the top, most competitive, offseason league in Minnesota.

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