U7 (IP), U9 (NOVICE) AND U11 (ATOM) PLAYER PATHWAY IMPLEMENTATION, News (Erie North Shore Minor Hockey)

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Submitted By Administrator on Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Effective for the 2020-2021 season, minor hockey associations, including those in the Ontario Hockey Federation’s Member Partners - OMHA, ALLIANCE, GTHL, NOHA and the OWHA - will be following the U7 (IP), U9 (Novice) and U11 (Atom) Player Pathways.

With the implementation of the U11 (Atom) Player Pathway in the 2020-2021 season, key changes have been made to the Player Pathways at U7 (Initiation) and U9 (Novice).

This will create consistency in all programming across the country and a seamless transition for players from U7 (Initiation) through to U11 (Atom) based on the Long Term Player Development model.

The Player Pathways provide local minor hockey associations a framework of age appropriate development guidelines which includes an optimal seasonal structure.


1. Player Tryouts

  • No tryouts prior to or during the first week of school.
    • No tryouts during the off-season phase (previous season, including March through August).
    • No tryouts during the first week of school where school starts the week after Labour Day.
    • Where school starts prior to Labour Day, there must be four skates/practices starting the week following Labour Day before tryouts commence.
  • Must offer a minimum of four practice/skill sessions prior to formal evaluation starting.
  • Must have a minimum of three form evaluation sessions:
  • Players should not tryout based on a specific position, but should be encouraged to play both forward and defense in tryouts.
  • Players should be selected for teams based on skill, not positional preference.

2. Fair and Equal Ice Time

  • Positional Rotation:
    • All players play all positions
  • Goaltender Rotation:
    • Full-time goaltender allowed.
    • Goaltenders rotate for equal amount of playing time throughout the regular season and playoffs.

3. Seasonal Structure

  • Preparation Phase (up to 4 Weeks)
    • See Player Tryouts above.
  • Development Phase (up to 4 weeks)
    • Teams must have a period of development time following tryouts prior to the start of the regular season.
  • Development and Regular Season Phase (Up to 24 weeks)
    • Recommended maximum of 45 games per year (includes exhibition, league, tournament and playoff games).
    • Seasonal Breaks
  • Playoff Phase (up to 4 weeks)
    • Tournament style.
  • Offseason Phase (end of season to August)

4. Position-Specific Training

  • Small-area games in practice/station-based practices/skill-focused drills
  • Only 15% of practice time should be spent on team play and strategy/systems with 85% of practice time spent on skills and tactics.
  • Limit position-specific specialization (except for goalies).


  • Season should allow for two (2) seasonal breaks (not including Christmas/long weekends).
    • Seasonal break would be a minimum of five (5) days without a scheduled game or mandatory practice.

More information on the full U7 (Initiation), U9 (Novice) and U11 (Atom) Player Pathways policy and recommendations can be found at the OHF Website.
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