Students from John McCrea Secondary School play hockey at the Walter Baker Sports Centre in Ottawa on Thursday, January 19, 2012. Hockey groups across the country are looking for ways to manage runaway scores in a bid to keep the sport fun for kids. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Kids hockey should be about fun, not scores: minor hockey groups

Hockey Canada recommends that players under the age of nine play half-ice games and that no score is kept

Hockey groups across the country are looking for ways to manage runaway scores in a bid to keep the sport fun for kids.

The issue swelled for the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario after a team of eight-year-olds from Kitchener crushed a squad from Cambridge 41-0 last month.

The lopsided score was very unusual, but the group still is considering a variety of measures to prevent a similar situation, said executive director Tony Martindale.

Those measures could include new rules or guidelines, and revisiting how the teams are split up based on skill, he said.

“Our biggest thing here is that we don’t want to turn kids off of hockey,” Martindale said. ”We want hockey to be a life-long adventure for the kids.”

The Kitchener-Cambridge game didn’t result in a barrage of complaints, he added, likely because the coaches found a way to keep it fun for the young athletes.

The winning team also implemented some rules to try and slow the pace when the score began to balloon, including requiring players to pass at least five times before shooting the puck.

Hockey Canada recommends that players under the age of nine play half-ice games and that no score is kept.

No one from Hockey Canada was made available to discuss the guidelines.

READ MORE: More than cuts and bruises: Winter sport-related injuries on the rise

Groups across the country use various rules for young players, with the Ontario Hockey Federation saying keeping score is optional for eight-year-old (novice) hockey. Hockey Alberta and BC Hockey do not keep score for teams made up of kids eight and under.

Young players should be learning skills like passing and how to be part of a team, not focusing on the score or who has how many goals, said Brad Lyon, spokesman for Hockey Alberta.

“We want to make sure that when those players are coming into their first or second year of hockey, that they’ve had fun, that they’re coming off the ice smiling, that they’ve had the opportunity to learn and most of all, that they want to come back next week and next year and hopefully decades into the future,” he said.

Hockey Alberta is also working on creating a standardized tiering system to better manage discrepancies in skill level and help teams determine what they’ll be up against in any given tournament.

“Mis-matches do happen. We know there can be those big scores. So we’re trying to reduce it,” Lyon said.

Standardized tiering is also used in B.C., where most member associations don’t post more than a five-goal deficit on any scoreboard, BC Hockey CEO Barry Petrachenko said in a statement.

The group is also encouraging associations to redistribute players or teams if play is lopsided.

Martindale said his group is reviewing how and when teams are split into skill-based tiers.

Currently, the teams play a few games before the process starts. They will look at whether there is a way to do the tiering before the season begins, Martindale said.

The Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario does not currently have rules or guidelines around blowout scores, he said, and may consider putting some in place for the future.

But it’s unlikely any regulations would include a “mercy rule,” where the game would end if one team were winning by a set margin. That could lead to valuable ice time going unused, Martindale said.

“I’d rather see us throw the sticks in the middle and have the kids play,” he said, referring to how teams are often picked in street hockey.

“At the end of the day, it’s about development and it should be about making friends and it should be about player experience.”

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Deadline looming for North Island College scholarship applications

Students have until April 24 to apply for a record number of… Continue reading

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select routes

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries to be sold on Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

Limits on chinook sport fishing to cause economic ripple effect in Campbell River

DFO says policy needed to prevent collapse of wild stocks, but concerns raised about economic impact

Clothesline Project in Campbell River is a choir of voices raised against abuse

‘It brings up a lot of emotions for people and starts the conversation about violence against women’

Fisheries Department announces conservation measures to protect chinook in B.C.

Urgent protection measures include closure of a commercial fishery involving seven endangered stock

4 victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

John Brittain, 68, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

Undercover cops don’t need warrant to email, text suspected child lurers: court

High court decision came Thursday in the case of Sean Patrick Mills of Newfoundland

Whitecaps fans stage walkout over club’s response to allegations against B.C. coach

Soccer coach has been suspended by Coastal FC since February

Three climbers presumed dead after avalanche in Banff National Park

One of the men is American and the other two are from Europe, according to officials

TSB makes two safety advisories in probe of B.C. train derailment that killed three

The CP Rail train went off the tracks near the B.C.-Alberta border in February

Vancouver Island cat jumps from fourth floor to escape fire

Blueberry was missing after the fire but has been found

VIDEO: Trump tried to seize control of Mueller probe, report says

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday

Contaminated soil to stay at contentious Shawnigan Lake site?

Reaction: “The community would lose their minds if this plan proceeds.”

B.C. awaits Kenney’s ‘turn off taps,’ threat; Quebec rejects Alberta pipelines

B.C. Premier John Horgan said he spoke with Kenney Wednesday and the tone was cordial

Most Read