On the Ice
Keep it simple!
We have found that what the kids want more than anything is to have fun, so we don't give too much structure
to their time on the ice. Depending on the numbers, ages, and experience of the kids you attract,
you will find this part very easy! The kids will sort of dictate how they choose to use the ice.
We tried 2 different methods, but really, what it all came down to was shinny.
This is, after all, just a modern version of the old Canadian standard, Pond Hockey.
Our first few weeks we attracted a large percentage of older boys...15-18. But there were lots of kids 9-13 as well,
and a few little guys. We decided to put them all out there at once.
Maybe it was foolish thinking they could all get along out there.....but to our surprise it was fantastic!
The way the older guys looked after the little ones was amazing. It sure rattled our impressions of these older 'tuff guys'!
They spent many patient hours showing the little ones some skills...and the little guys were so stoked to
be hanging with the big guys. Really, it was amazing.
In time,however, the older experienced guys, mosty league players looking for more ice time, grew tirde of the little squirts
and they wandered off. A few still come out once in a while, but we decided some on-ice supervision was in order.
What we do now is much the same, but for the first 30 minutes or so we split the ice,with those needing help
getting started at one end,and the others just play some shinny.You will find that you will get a few brand new skaters.
Be sure to make room for them for at least part of the skate. After that we open up the ice for the remainder
of the night, and coax the little ones off if there are too many larger skaters. This doesn't always work out tho...
...the little guys don't come off so easy! Generally the majority stay on and play till they get tired,and come off on their own.
We don't always have goalies so we keep the puck down,and no slapshots on a guarded net!Obviously,no hitting,ever.
Most nights we have about 18-24 kids on the ice. We bought some pinnies to make 'teams' but this is pretty non-competitive.
Pinnies do help them find eachother what with all the mis-matched jerseys.
We have a core group of about 15 kids, boys and girls. There are another 15 or so that come most weeks. We make no demands
of attendance of course...this is a pick-up game.Our biggest turnout was 38. For a town our size, that's alot of kids!
About 1/3 of them are league players getting extra ice time.
The remainder are kids who just want to play and have fun. Some are brand new skaters..our youngest is 4,almost 5, years old.
What the non-players have picked up is just amazing. Again, seeing the more experienced kids
teaching the less-so is one of the best parts of the whole programme. A real eye-opener.
Your own experince and needs may dictate a very different method. Just keep it safe,and keep it simple!