Hockey Canada Network |
Hockey Canada's Initiation Program: on The Right Track From Day One
Laurence Heinen
September 17, 2007

The first time a young hockey player steps onto the ice can leave a lasting impression.

The goal of Hockey Canada's Initiation Program is to make children's first contact withhockey a safe and positive experience so those players will return to the rink with smiles on their faces.

As national spokespeople, Paul Kariya of the St. Louis Blues and Jayna Hefford of Canada’s National Women's Team believe in the structured, learn-to-play concept of the program designed to introduce beginners to the game's basic skills.

"I believe it is important for every player to have access to the best program in the world for developing skills, while having fun," Kariya says. "Practice is so important, because it allows the kids to make more passes, take more shots on net and have the puck on their stick more than in any game."

"The Initiation Program sets the foundation for all future enjoyment and success our young players have in the sport of hockey,” Hefford adds.

Other goals of the program include: developing and understanding of basic teamwork through participation in a variety of activities and adapted game situations, creating and refining basic motor patterns, and introducing beginners to the concepts of cooperation and fair play.

"It makes no sense for kids to play organized games until they have reasonable mastery of skating, puck handling, passing and shooting," explained Dr. Murray Smith, a sports psychologist who works with both the Edmonton Oilers and Kelowna Rockets.

Doug Baba, who supervises the Initiation Program for the Prince George Minor Hockey Association, takes his job seriously.

"My focus is to make sure they come back ... that they have enough fun that they want to come back next year," said Baba, adding that Prince George has a great group of volunteer coaches who work hard to teach young players the proper skills right off the bat. "You wouldn't have a minor hockey association without the initiation group. It really comes down to what you learn in your first two to three years."

In Calgary, the Initiation Program has had a pair of high-profile sponsors behind it for the past five seasons.

"It's very unique in hockey," said Kirk Reynolds, coordinator of the Timbits Flames Program for Hockey Calgary. "The young kids are obviously the foundation for which all hockey revolves around. Everything is started at the Initiation level."

While the young players learn valuable skills they'll carry with them throughout their hockey careers, instructors also get a feeling of satisfaction from being involved with the program.

"You just want to develop their passion for the game," Reynolds said. "What you get back is just the fact that the kids are having fun. They enjoyment that they derive from the program is just everything. That's the greatest reward for any instructor - to see how much they improve and how much they get out of it."

For more information:

André Brin
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada

Francis Dupont
Manager, Media Relations/Communications
Hockey Canada

Jason LaRose
Manager, Content Services
Hockey Canada

Kristen Lipscombe
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada

Keegan Goodrich
Coordinator, Media
Hockey Canada

2014 Esso Cup: SUD 6 - FRA 3
Apr 24, 2014
A trio of Lady Wolves scores two goals each to lead Sudbury over Fraser Valley.
2014 WU18C: CAN 3 - SUI 2
Apr 24, 2014
Konecny’s late goal sends Canada to the semifinals in Lappeenranta.
2014 TELUS Cup: HFX 5 - OKA 4
Apr 24, 2014
Halifax scored four times in the third period to stun Okanagan.
2014 TELUS Cup: TOR 3 - CHA 1
Apr 24, 2014
Harland had the winner to help the Young Nationals to the victory.
2014 Esso Cup: EDM 4 – STC 3 (OT)
Apr 24, 2014
Alexandra Poznikoff scored 4:21 into overtime to win it for the Thunder.
2014 Esso Cup: SUD 3 - EDM 2
Apr 23, 2014
A pair of power play goals in the second led Sudbury to its third win.
2014 Esso Cup: FRA 7 – MON 2
Apr 23, 2014
The Phantom fired 50 shots on net in picking up its first win of the Esso Cup.
2014 TELUS Cup: HAL 3 - CHA 7
Apr 23, 2014
Eight players had multi-point games to lead Châteauguay to its first win.
2014 TELUS Cup: TOR 4 - MJ 2
Apr 23, 2014
Marco Bozzo’s hat trick helped the Young Nationals to another win.
2014 Esso Cup: STC 3 - WEY 2
Apr 23, 2014
The Sabres scored three in the first and hung on to defeat the Gold Wings.
2014 TELUS Cup: OKA 1 - PA 1
Apr 23, 2014
Kjargaard and Bryshun traded goals in yet another tie game.
2014 Esso Cup STC 2 – SUD 1
Apr 22, 2014
A shorthanded goal from Alexa Vasko late in the second was the difference.
Photo Credit: