U9 hockey players prepare for transition to full ice

January 5, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

As young hockey players progress through the season, they have been playing with modified ice programming.

U9-level players who began the season playing half-ice hockey are now preparing to transition to full-ice play.

Ontario Minor Hockey has set the date of Jan. 15, for the day the players graduate to a full-ice surface. It will be quite a transition for young players who will find themselves using their skills on a much larger ice surface.

As players transition, the focus will continue to be on skill development as teams are introduced to new full-ice concepts and team play.

According to the OMHA, coaches should use the coming weeks to introduce concepts such as off-sides and icing, as well as the importance of positional play before teams transition to full ice.

During practices, coaches can start using black pucks and regulation-sized nets if not already in use, to show players what to expect after January 15.

The coach’s focus should remain on skill development and ensuring each player has an equal opportunity to contribute regardless of skill or ability. Emphasizing fair and equal ice time for every player will further enhance their enjoyment through engagement.

The transition to full ice is a recommended element of the Hokey Canada Player Pathways. These pathways are a learn-to-play teaching curriculum that prepares players to graduate from one age group to the next.

The curriculum introduces, develops, and refines the skills of skating, passing, puck control, and shooting in a progressive, step-by-step manner.

The primary focus of minor hockey is to provide a safe and fun environment to develop a lifelong passion for the sport, important life skills, and provide age and skill-appropriate programming that meets the needs of the player.

Some of the changes that will occur after Jan. 15, included a five-on-five format, regulation size nets, regulation shift lengths, and always two officials on the ice. Previously, one or two officials could be on the ice during game.

Other changes include introducing off-sides and icing, penalties, scoring, and placing teams in league standings.

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