CYO Development Levels, News (CYO Minor Hockey)

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CYO Development Levels
Submitted By CYO President on Thursday, July 29, 2021

CYO Minor Hockey offers multiple tiers of hockey development for our players to help get them to the level they aspire to be.

We offer NHL/NHLPA First Shift and Just Try It programs, Select Travel, competitive travel MD Hurricanes, Alumni League, our Jr Ice Dogs program, power skating, goalie clinics, and more. 


The NHL/NHLPA FIRST SHIFT program is designed to ensure a positive experience for new-to-hockey families. We want families to experience the game at its best; to understand why so many Canadians feel an inherent love for the sport, and to stimulate a desire for continued participation. We want to take away any intimidation as it relates to equipment requirements, and/or rules of the game, remove potential safety concerns, and most importantly, provide an experience that is memorable and fun.

The NHL/NHLPA First Shift program is open to children, between the ages of 6 and 10 years old who have never previously enrolled in minor hockey within Canada or the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program. Registrants receive BAUER hockey equipment (Head-to-Toe), a welcome event, equipment fitting demonstration, and an expert fit session and equipment distribution.


The Just Try It! program introduces children and their parents to the game of hockey. The program has been designed to ensure that the children's first contact with minor hockey is a safe and positive experience. It's a structured, learn to play program designed to introduce beginners to the game's basic skills. These sessions are usually run as a 1 day, 2-hour program where CYO supplies gently-used equipment and an equipment fitting session, then the kids can get out on the ice with our certified coaches for some basics. We also encourage a "bring a friend" if one of our players has a non-playing friend they would like to bring out and join on the ice.


Our house league program provides a mix of training and development skills and hockey game play for ages 5 and up, starting with our FUNdamentals program for ages 5 and 6, and progressing up through to our U18/U21 teams.

SELECT TRAVEL (U11, U13, U15, U18)

Select travel hockey is the next level up from House League. Players who are rostered after tryouts will play Select in addition to their house league teams (both teams). All select practices and games are over and above the commitment to house league, which provides additional practices and development skills for players, as well as travel games at a higher competitive level. The Select travel loop usually runs through Niagara, Hamilton, Burlington, Kitchener, and Brantford.


Minor Development hockey is the first level of competitive hockey, followed by A, AA, then AAA. MD teams do not play house league, but instead play a dedicated travel loop with additional development and skills training at the "MD Level".  MD teams can play Hockey Canada / USA Hockey "Rep/AE" and "A" level tournaments and exhibition games. The MD travel loop can run through Niagara, Hamilton, Burlington, Kitchener, Cambridge, and Brantford.


The Niagara Junior Ice Dogs is a Hockey Program which supports those with Special Needs to learn and enjoy the game of hockey in its proper form. CYO runs this program in partnership with the Niagara Ice Dogs. Players and participants of all ages are welcome - a desire to learn and play the game of hockey and enjoy the experience is all that is required.

The Junior Ice Dogs have a weekly on ice Program which entails instructional time in teaching the various elements of the game - skating, puck control, team work, team play and game environment. The Program has players of a wide variety of not only age but also skill and therefore caters to all. Junior and Senior sections are established on the ice (based on skills - not age.) The Junior Ice Dogs have close ties and association within Special Hockey International and have participated in many of the Special Hockey International friendship tournaments.


The CYO Alumni Program continues all our fun on the ice and great game play past U21. With nearly 300 members, our CYO Alumni program gives our minor hockey "graduates" the ability to continue on the ice with their friends, participate in weekly divisional games, and have a championship weekend at the end of each season.

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