Hockey Parent Resources
Youth Hockey/New to Hockey
Your first places to start when your son or daughter tells you they want to play hockey:
Try Hockey for Free Days:
Try Hockey For Free is a national initiative to give kids a chance to try hockey for free. They are usually held in November and February, and you can search locations at their website. You also might find additional days put on by your local association, so you can check with them as well. Most locations will have the equipment needed to use while your child skates, and this is can be a great way to find out if this is something your child wants to do. There will be instructors and plenty of helpers on and off the ice.
Your local hockey association:
Another great resource is your local hockey association's website. You will find all kinds of information there including when and how to register, information about tryouts or evaluations, fees, etc. Note: Don't let the word "tryouts" scare you. Many associations hold tryouts or evaluations simply to place your child with children of similar abilities. There is a place for everyone who wants to play hockey, and especially at the younger ages, there are plenty of kids who can't even stand up on skates at the beginning of the season, but they are skating by Christmas!
You can find your local association either on the USA Hockey website listed below, or you can simply Google the name of your town and "hockey association." In some places, you must play for the association based on where you live, and in others, you have some choice.
There are "house" leagues and "travel" teams, and most players start in "house" leagues. Some players stay in house leagues their entire playing career, and some choose to try out for travel teams.
There is also no need to worry about how old your child is when they want to start. There truly is no such thing as "too late." My own son had a boy on one of his teams who started when he was 12, my brother started at age 14, and I started learning to play in my late 30s! I have even know people who started playing hockey older than that!
USA Hockey: https://www.usahockey.com/
USA Hockey is the national governing body of hockey in the United States. Located in Colorado Springs, CO, USA Hockey is responsible for — among many other things — development and education programs for players, coaches and officials; determining Select, National and Olympic Teams, and developing policies and procedures.
Hockey Canada: https://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/homeHockey Canada is the national governing body of hockey in Canada.
Safe Sport is an independent nonprofit organization focused on ending all forms of abuse in sport.
Your association will let you know what is required for the younger kids. Do NOT go out and buy everything until you find out what is required. They will want it all, but for the U6 crowd, they often don't need shoulder pads or hockey pants/breezers. Many that age simply wear sweatpants over their shin guards.
Buy used gear if you can find it, and for the love of all that is holy, buy gear that fits, especially skates. Do NOT buy the next size up so they can "grow into it." They won't be able to skate as well, and they will hate it. I'm really not kidding about that one. Equipment that is too big WILL get in their way, and that will affect how much fun they are having. Many associations have equipment swaps, you can find used gear on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, and there are stores like Play It Again Sports that sell used equipment.
The good thing is after the initial outlay, you usually don't need to replace everything every year. You get a couple seasons out of many pieces of their gear, but you definitely want to check the fit at least every year. For example, helmets are adjustable, and you can usually get two or three years out of a helmet.
Don't get caught up in having the latest and greatest stick either. In fact, for the younger kids, a straight stick is recommended until they figure out which way they shoot. While there is a "rule" that the dominant hand is usually at the top of the stick, that isn't always how it ends up. Following that rule, I'm right handed, so I should shoot left, but I am actually more comfortable shooting right with my left hand on top. I started out shooting left, but after a month of practice, one of my fellow skaters had me try her left stick because I was struggling, and I did much better with that so I switched. My son is also right handed normally, but shoots left.
Note: Retailers of hockey equipment, for the most part, will not ship out of country due to agreements with the manufacturers, so Canadians need to shop in Canada, and US citizens need to shop in the US.
Also note that it can be worth asking around in your local area. Many players have equipment they have outgrown that they haven't gotten around to selling yet. Another option is to check eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace.
Here is a great article from Coach Jeremy on buying equipment online: https://howtohockey.com/your-guide-to-buying-hockey-equipment-online/
Other Sources of Hockey Information
Hockey YouTube Channels
Trav4Oilers (note: some language, not always child friendly)
Hockey Facebook Groups
Note that for many of these groups, you will need to request to join, and the moderators have set them that way to minimize the amount of spam that gets posted. There are also many others out there, but these are the ones I have found to have helpful info and/or enough activity to be worth staying in. If there are others you think should be added to the list, send an email with the name of the group to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get it added!
My Hockey Kid Youth Hockey
Hockey Mom Hacks
Ice Hockey Coaching-Youth to Pro
Western NY Hockey
PA Hockey (go ahead and search for your state if you aren't in PA. There may or may not be a group already, and you could start one if there isn't!)
Hockey Moms United
Hockey Homemade (this one isn't for info, but it can be a great resource to find unique gift items for the hockey person in your life!)
Youth/Minor Hockey Parents
The Hockey Think Tank Parent Community
Youth Hockey Info Group
Junior Hockey Discussion Group
Junior Hockey Advisor-Discussion
Western States Junior Hockey Talk
Watch Hockey/Hockey News/Blogs
Hockey TV Subscription based service broadcasting a wide range of leagues from youth to pro
Live Barn Subscription based service broadcasting the happenings in rinks all over North America.
ASTV: Amateur Sports TV, based in Canada
JuniorHockey.com Junior Hockey News and Articles
The Junior Hockey News Junior Hockey News and Articles
Note: I recommend getting information from a variety of sources, even if they seem to be giving differing opinions, especially if the information may influence a decision you might be making
Canada Junior Hockey Leagues
Leagues sanctioned by Hockey Canada
Major Juniors: Overseen by the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) and is comprised of three leagues:
QMJHL: Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
OHL: Ontario Hockey League
WHL: Western Hockey League
Junior A: CJHL (Canadian Junior Hockey League) and is comprised of 10 leagues
BCHL: British Columbia Hockey League
AJHL: Alberta Junior Hockey League
SJHL: Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League
MJHL: Manitoba Junior Hockey League
SIJHL: Superior International Junior Hockey League
NOJHL: Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League
OJHL: Ontario Junior Hockey League
CCHL: Central Canada Junior Hockey League
LHJQ: Ligue de Hockey Junior AAA Quebec
MHL: Maritime Junior Hockey League
US Junior Hockey Leagues
Sanctioned by USA Hockey
Tier I: USHL United States Hockey League
Tier 2: NAHL North American Hockey League
Tier 3:NA3HL North American 3 Hockey League
EHL Eastern Hockey League
Leagues sanctioned by other governing bodies or self-governing:
CPJHL: Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League
WSHL: Western States Hockey League
GMHL: Greater Metro Hockey League
NCDC: National Collegiate Development Conference
USPHL: United States Premier Hockey League
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