U9 Expansion Program Information, News (South Muskoka Minor Hockey Association)

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Jun 04, 2023 | Katie Peleikis | 2448 views
U9 Expansion Program Information
We have had some questions regarding the New U9 Expansion program that we are offering for the 2023/24 Season...

Q: Who should enroll for the U9 Expansion Program?  

A: The New U9 expansion program is being provided for the more dedicated players who are looking for more skills development and advancement over the season. Ideally this program will be most beneficial to the players/families that are more dedicated to hockey and looking to play with other players who are also more dedicated to hockey.  


Q: The U9 Expansion program is capped at up to 36 players, will all 36 players be on the ice at the same time?

A: The U9 Expansion program is being offered for enrollment of up to 36 players which is 2 teams of up to 18. During the 1/2 ice portion of the season the 2 teams will share ice for practices. After January 15th the teams will have separate ice times except for inter-squad games.


Q:Will the additional ice time be practice only or will there be an opportunity to play games against other centers?

A: There is an opportunity to play games with this additional ice allotment however it will be the coaches who will need to work together to ensure equality between the up to 2 teams within the expansion. It is up to the coaches to schedule games with other centers and to adapt which teams are played based on competitiveness. For example prior to January 15th, the additional ice time is shared between the 2 U9 Expansion teams.  Using this ice time for internal games is permitted, keeping to the 2:1 and 3:1 practice to game ratios detailed within the U9 Pathways.  Further if 1 team wants to use the time for a game against another center, it would be expected that the coaches work together as one team would have to give up their shared ice time that week. This can be accomplished, but the 2 coaches will need to work together and trade ice times to maintain fairness between the 2 teams.


Q: Is this a dedicated team or is it extra ice for players of all the teams, similar to what used to be called a select team? 

A: The expansion option will form up to 2 teams, following the SMMHA U9 Development plan, as implemented last season. The extra ice will only be available for those that register for the U9 Expansion Program up to a maximum of 36 players. The 2 U9 expansion teams may need to trade players between them to be competitive against one another over the season.


Q: Has the association selected a coach for this program? And if so who

A: Coaches for these teams will be determined based on volunteer enrollment within the expansion program. The board will open applications and determine the coaches as is done in all local league.


Q: Do you have an idea as to ice time/location? 

A: The ice allocation is not defined at this time, but a 5:30 pm or 6:00 pm practice in Bala, Port Carling or Baysville is a possibility. This program could see early morning practices as well. The intent is that more dedicated players/families select this stream.


Q: Last season U9 had 1 one hour practice and 1 hour and a half practice. Is this still going to be the case plus the extra ice? 

A: The U9 program base from last season will remain the same.  This stream provides additional ice above the base U9 program.


Q: Has SMMHA considered a Minor Development (MD) team? 

A: With a MD or Select program as outlined by Hockey Canada and OMHA, the other LL teams/players must have the same ice opportunities and is not feasible within SMMHA based on the number of players within the age. A MD and select program further eliminates inter squad play within the associations U9 teams. SMMHA has challenges in game play with other centers as we have a large number of teams and a significant distance to travel to be able to play other centers. The link to the OMHA article explains more of the challenges with MD/Select which doesn't fit within SMMHA https://www.omha.net/news_article/show/1263295


Q: Are we allowed to have tryouts with this age group? 

A: Tryouts are not permitted at this age as we are working within the guidelines provided by OMHA.


Q: If we were to sign up for the extra U9 Expansion Program, is it for all levels of players?

A: The intent behind the U9 expansion program is to provide an opportunity for the players that would have normally tried out for the previous U9 REP program to have a team of similar skill sets and dedication to play with. The program is open to all U9 players of all abilities and enrolment is up to the adult enrolling the player to judge the players dedication to the sport.  While all U9 teams are encouraged to take advantage of tournaments, these coaches may wish to maximize the number of tournaments played in conjunction with the U9 player pathway limitations.

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