By Fred Wallace
Hockey Canada Initiation Mandate
Hi, this is Fred Wallace with " Off the Wire " brought to you by the Owen Sound Springfest 55+ Games which begin Tuesday and run through May.
Hockey Canada is implementing a new policy that mandates cross-ice or half-ice hockey for players at the Initiation age level, that is the 5 and 6-year-olds.
The purpose of the Initiation Program is to introduce the basics of the game, and make the introduction to the game of hockey safe and fun for all of the youngsters participating.
I found the announcement this week especially interesting since I spent Tuesdays & Wednesdays this year assisting the organizers of both the Initiation and Tyke programs with the Owen Sound Minor Hockey Group.
In both cases, the full ice surface of the JD McArthur Arena is utilized, but just for the warmup and then the off-the-bat skating drills.
Once the skating sessions have been completed, the kids are divided, usually by jersey color, and sent into different stations around the ice surface where they experience one aspect of the game in a confined space for a few minutes before rotating to the next.
Owen Sound, like Chatsworth, Shallow Lake, Meaford, Wiarton, Saugeen Shores and other Minor Hockey Groups I'm sure, have already adapted the half ice-cross ice philosophy.
Will it make better players ?
The studies suggest so.
But the bigger question is, will it attract youngsters to the sport and keep them there for years ahead ?
I'm Fred Wallace