The Ontario Minor Hockey Association, in partnership with the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF), is proactively approaching a nation-wide initiative which will see more kids at younger ages playing and practicing hockey in age-appropriate programming.
Starting in the 2019-2020 season, Hockey Canada has mandated players 8-years-old and under will participate in modified-ice games, which includes cross-ice or half-ice. To continue the player progression for young athletes already in modified-ice programming, the OHF will expand its modified-ice programming in 2018-2019 season and advance 2011-born players from cross-ice to half-ice games. The focus in practices will remain station-based.
In 2019-2020, as per the Hockey Canada modified-ice mandate, those same players start the season playing half-ice games and end it with full-ice games.
“The OHF Board of Directors unanimously supported this progression, as developed by the Executive and Technical Directors of its Members,” said Tony Foresi, OHF President. “To be leaders in the game, we have to look beyond today and realize the significance of supporting age-appropriate programming. The science is there, the results are there and now we are moving the game there.”
“Station-based practices, small area games, lightweight blue pucks and age-appropriate ice size ensure players are engaged and have the right start in their hockey experience,” said OMHA Executive Director Ian Taylor. “Scaling the game to match the age group allows young players the opportunity for more puck-touches which promotes greater opportunity for skill-development in puck-handling, shooting, skating, coordination and decision-making.”
In conjunction with its Members, the OHF is in the process of producing materials to support minor hockey associations and clubs as they work through this change.
“We know change is never easy, but we want to give our administrators, coaches, parents and, most of all, the players the best experience we can,” said Phillip McKee, OHF Executive Director. “The OHF and its Members will be there to support the program in anyway needed.”
“The successful development of basic skills will impact these players for the rest of their hockey careers.”