Thursday, January 21, 2010


Here's more solid advice from veteran hockey mom Tammie Vivlamore on getting your mite (and yourself) ready for the next level of play. Thanks Tammie! Let me know if you have some hockey thoughts you would like to share. Remember, like they sing in High School Musical...We're all in this together.....

Mite Parents, Are You Ready for Squirts?
by Tammie Vivlamore
So, you have been freezing in the rink for the past couple of years, watching your mighty little mite practice and go at it in games. This is when it's fun, pure and simple. Remember those
trips over the blue line during the breakaways? Or those times denying that's your kid when the puck gets whacked in on their own goalie?

How about all those time you had to cover your eyes when you knew your kid didn't quite have the knack for stopping yet and splat! They end up using the boards. Great times!

Well, now your mite is turning nine. He/she will be a squirt next season. Worried about vast differences? Don't be. There are a few noticeable differences between Mites and Squirts. First, will your child being playing travel (Central Section) or House (Snowbelt)? Do you even have a clue what those are? How do you decide?
House Teams
House teams play in the Snowbelt League. This league is designed to develop team and individual skills. This is not supposed to be a truly competitive league but competition does thrive there. These teams generally play in and around Central NY, as well as in Binghamton and Watertown. Snowbelt’s season ends in February with a “Snowbelt Jam”; a tournament played between Snowbelt teams at a “host” rink. A host rink is the rink that wins the bid for the tournament. There are several Jams at different rinks.

Travel Teams
Travel teams play in the Central Section League. This is a more competitive league. For the most part, Central Section plays in the same rinks as Snowbelt. The Central Section teams are more skilled and faster. They play for a chance to be in a State Tournament at the end of the season.
Outside games and Tournaments
Teams from both leagues are given time to choose games to play outside of their league. These are known as non league or pick up games. These are usually scheduled by the coaches and are used to help develop the teams. Teams are also given time to go to tournaments of their choice. Coaches will usually choose tournaments they would like to take their team to and then ask the parents to go. Tournaments are a good way to unite a team. The team spends a whole weekend together in a hotel “hanging out”. This is loads of fun!

How Do You Decide?
If your hockey player enjoys watching the scoreboard or checking out the crowd over chasing the puck and scoring goals, he might be a little overwhelmed playing Travel. A house team is probably a good fit for him.

If your son/daughter has to be the first one to the puck, uses their body like a wrecking ball, shoots pucks at your garage 15 hours a day, or just likes to be challenged, you may want to consider letting him try out for a travel team.
That’s right. Try out dates are usually either posted at the rink or on your home association’s website. There is usually a fee for travel tryouts. This fee is used to cover expenses such as ice time. The try outs usually last for a couple of days sometimes longer. At these try outs, the players are put through a series of skating and hockey related drills. This is so evaluators and coaches can see the skill level of each player. Most of the time, the coaches will put the players in game like situations or scrimmage games. The players are evaluated and the travel teams are chosen. The results are usually posted on the association’s website sometime after evaluations. Sometimes the travel coach will call his new players to get to know them. The children that do not make the travel team will be placed in Snowbelt.

Games in General
Mite games are unpredictable. The age range is usually between six and eight years old. Some years, an association may have a mite team full of eight year olds. These teams usually dominate other teams that have a bigger mixture of ages. Sometimes a Mite team will have mostly six year olds. These teams usually GET dominated. Mite teams have a hard time trying to find other mite teams they are competitive with because of the large age group.
Squirts are only nine and ten years old. Because of the smaller age groups involved in squirts, teams are usually quite competitive. This makes games move a lot faster. If your youth hockey player is not ready, it can seem overwhelming to him at first. Don’t fret! A good coach and teammates can help Johnny adjust and get used to the level of play.
Squirts is still a lot of fun to watch. Johnny will still trip over the blue line, let the other team get the puck and possibly put the puck in his own net. Your child will also learn a lot about hockey and so will you.

Final Lesson
Squirts will need to learn how to dress themselves. Usually by the middle of the season, your squirt will only need your help when his/her skates need tying and the jersey gets stuck in the pads. So, the final most important lesson is….
The more your kids do for themselves, the less time spent in a smelly locker room. Now it is up to you to figure out what you will do with your new found free time. Yippee!
Can you say coffee run?

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