You’ve got to keep the youngsters engaged in order for them to learn.
That’s a refrain new teachers often hear from principals when they take to the classroom for the first time.
It’s also true for youngsters new to the sport of hockey. While it’s pretty cool for kids to put on hockey equipment and have sticks and pucks at the ready, it’s not quite as good when they have to stand around and cool their skates while waiting for their turn for a chance to play.
The Raleigh-based Carolina Junior Hurricanes seem to have the solution for just that challenge. They have used the American Development Model to create a system where they can have 54 youngsters on the ice playing at the same time.
They have accomplished that feat by utilizing two sets of boards to “break up” the ice into three separate playing areas. Hence, six teams with nine players each can be on the rink learning drills or doing other hockey activities at the same time. Players can also focus better and more safely without pucks flying from all different directions onto each rink.
The boards are quite similar to those that surround the rink and snap together for easy assembly and disassembly in fewer than 10 minutes. The Raleigh Youth Hockey Association split the cost of the boards with rink officials where they play, including the Raleigh Iceplex.
In a time where rink costs are nearly double what they were just six years ago, that kind of efficiency is critical in order for a hockey program to survive and thrive.
“We’ve done a good job getting a finely-tuned methodology to it,” said Andy Haldane, a RYHA official and coach of the 8U program. “It’s been a great thing to watch over the years. The beauty is the economy of what we’re able to do, the amount of touches each kid is getting is unbelievable. We’ve created a practical hockey situation and are able to teach the kids the right way to play.”
Haldane credits the American Development Model for helping come up with ideas to keep the players engaged, while also noting the general support from the National Hockey League and USA Hockey.
“They are trying to cast a wider net into the sport and have put a great deal into research and practice plans,” Haldane said of the organizations. “They have put a lot of time and money into it.”
Part of the wider net scooped up Haldane’s daughter Evelyn, 8, who is one of two girls, along with Anna Warren, among the team’s players.
“It’s fun, and it doesn’t even matter that it’s mostly boys playing,” Evelyn Haldane said. “I like the speed and excitement of it.”
Teammate A.J. Barron, also 8 years old, likes the fact players get the opportunity to play all the different positions on a hockey team. It’s how learned how much he enjoyed being a netminder.
“I like playing goalie, and it’s cool putting on the equipment,” said Barron. “I hope to make the Olympics and play in the NHL someday.”
Barron’s father Andrew, the ADM director for the Carolina Amateur Hockey Association, considers himself “blessed” with how organized the program is. More importantly, he sees budding young hockey players who are truly learning the sport.
“It’s been wonderful to see the progression of these kids,” said Barron, who also owns Five Hole Sports with outlets in Raleigh and Charlotte. “Because of the ADM model, each kid is learning something without standing around, and with that many touches they can’t help but get better.”
Andy Haldane agrees wholeheartedly.
“The kids are head-and-shoulders ahead of where they were just six-to-seven years ago,” he said. “It’s been wonderful to see their progression.”
It’s something that would make even the most hardened school principal smile.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.