Beginning in the 2019-20 season, Hockey Canada has an updated policy that mandates cross-ice hockey for players at the U7 age level to all Minor Hockey Associations.
While the policy making it mandatory is recent, half-ice/cross-ice hockey has been part of the U7 Program since it was first developed more than 35 years ago. The purpose of the program is to introduce the basic skills of the game, and make a child’s first introduction to the game one that is safe, enjoyable, and fun.
Cross-ice hockey at the Initiation age effectively right-sizes the playing surface for young players:
You don't put five- and six-year-olds on a full-size soccer pitch, or expect them to play basketball on a full-sized court with no height adjustments – hockey is no different.
Cross-ice hockey allows young players the opportunity for more puck-touches which promotes greater opportunity for skill development (puck-handling, shooting, skating, coordination) and decision-making.
Players on cross-ice or half-ice have been shown to receive five times more passes and take six times more shots than when they are on a full-sized rink.
Small-area games are used at all levels of the game – including senior national teams and the NHL.
Unlike other associations, the WGHA will be offering two ice times per week whereas most associations are offering only one ice time per week. One for a traditional Practice following the Hockey Canada program. The second will be a combination of skills development and games that also follow the Hockey Canada program. WGHA players will progress and develop sooner and will be more prepared to transition to full ice Hockey.
The following links have been assembled to assist our members in understanding the concepts and principles of the Initiation program:
Hockey Canada U7 Program Information
If you have any questions on this program please contact the Junior House League Director [email protected]
and/or the 2nd VP House League [email protected]