Intro to Hockey (New Program) (West Lorne Comets)

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Intro to Hockey (U5 - U9)

It is the goal of West Lorne Minor Hockey to offer as many opportunities for youth to get involved in hockey as possible, at an affordable rate. As well, West Lorne Minor Hockey is looking to grow our hockey programming so we may offer more options for our youth, in our community. 

West Lorne Minor Hockey & the West Elgin Skating Club have joined forces to offer a one-year pilot program for the 2023/2024 hockey season.  Please read all the details below.  

What is the goal of Intro to Hockey?
The goal is to offer a flexible, and optional program to be more accommodating to new families that would like to sign their child up for hockey for the very first time.  This is the first year this program has ever been run, and to our knowledge it is the only program of it's kind across the province.  

What is Intro to Hockey?

The Intro to Hockey program is an optional learn to skate/improve skating and learn hockey skills program, for first time players in the age groups from U5 to U9.  This program is designed for players with little to no skating experience, and for players who can stand and move on skates but have never played hockey.   

This program fills a need for the younger players to receive more instructional time on the fundamentals of skating and hockey before playing in league/travel games.  In 2022/2023 West Lorne Minor Hockey had record numbers of U5 registrations and we want to revamp how our U5 programming works.

We also have heard many families feel their child missed out on getting involved in hockey due to COVID, and now feel it is "too late" for their older age child to join hockey, as they will be "too behind" their same age peers. We also know it can be intimidating for a child to join hockey and move right into playing with kids that have been playing high-paced games for three or more years.  

This program offers a one-day a week skating lesson with the West Elgin Skating Club (in hockey equipment), and a one ice time a week with West Lorne Minor Hockey coaches learning hockey skills and hockey techniques. 
During the West Elgin Skating Club time, players will focus on proper skating, stopping, speed, agility, etc., wearing their full hockey gear.  During the West Lorne Minor Hockey time, players will need their full gear as well as a hockey stick.  Players will work on puck handling, and specific hockey skills, and age-grouped scrimmages at the coaches discretion. 

Who is Eligible to Register for the Program?
For 2023/2024 hockey season, all first time registrants from 2019 - 2015 are eligible to register for this program.    If you have an older child (U9 and above) you feel is a good fit for the program, please contact the Program Leads. We want everyone to feel welcome and have an opportunity to get involved so children get access to hockey.

If my child is registering for their first year of hockey - do they HAVE to register for Intro to Hockey?
If your child is registering for their first year of hockey, and they are 2018 or older, they can register for U7 or Intro to Hockey - whichever you think is the best fit for your child.   If your child is a U5, the only registration option is Intro to Hockey.   All players registering for Intro to Hockey must be first year registrations.

I don't know what is the best fit for my child.  What should I do?
If you are unsure, at a minimum register them for Intro to Hockey.  Our goal is to make this program very flexible, and if after the first couple weeks, if U7 - U9 is a better fit for your child, we can chat about that together.  Nothing is set in stone and we can move players around to make sure they are getting the best experience possible with hockey. 

If you want to ask questions directly, the program lead, Nigel Simpson would love to chat with anyone regarding your child, and the program.  He is available by phone, and can be reached at (519)777-0813. You can also send an email to [email protected]

Do they play games?
They players will not play formal league recognized (exhibition) games.  Scrimmages and game play may happen at the coach's discretion, based on the level of the players, number of players and abilities.  We want everyone to have a positive experience, and for sure cannot have U9 players in a game with U5 players, so it will all just depend on registration numbers, but the plan is to incorporate some information game play.

What Equipment do they need?
All players need full hockey equipment. Click here for more info. Used equipment is perfectly fine - keep an eye on our social media for an equipment swap day upcoming in summer 2023. 

What if my player is too advanced?
All players will be continually evaluated to ensure the program is the best for the player.  For example, if a U8 player registers for Intro to Hockey, and after a few weeks they are well above where they started, and would benefit from joining the Comets U8 team, coaches will discuss with the parents and the player/family will have the option of moving up to the U8 Comets team and join in regular play.   If your player moves up, and after a few weeks doesn't feel like this is a good fit, they can move back to the Intro program.  If your player is moved permanently to their league team, the family will be responsible for paying the difference on a pro-rated registration fee (based on how much of the season is left) for that age. 
Why is the fee structure different from the Initiation Program (U7) hockey?
The registration fee is different because these are skills based learning sessions that do not require referees, timekeepers, and league fees, all of which are expenses.  U7 is also the first age group recognized by OMHA and Hockey Canada for formal game play.  As well, we want to make starting hockey affordable and enjoyable. 

Is this program eligible for subsidy?
All of our hockey programming is eligible for subsidy and funding. We never want a child/player to go without and not have the opportunity to play hockey.  Please contact us to discuss funding opportunities from WLMHA.

We do work with Gooday Let's Play, who typically funds all or a portion of first year U7 (Initiation Program) registrants. WLMH will submit application to Gooday Let's Play for funding for all our first year U5 and U7 registrations, including registrations for U5 & U7 Intro to Hockey players.  Please note Gooday Let's Play is a not-for-profit organization, and their ability to fund our players relies heavily on their fundraising efforts.  We are very appreciative of Gooday Let's Play.  If we receive funding for players, refunds are issued directly to parents. 

What is the parent involvement required?
Parent volunteers may be required during the West Elgin Skating Club ice time in order to make this program a success. This can also be siblings that are high school students needing volunteer hours.  The number of volunteers needed will depend on the number of registrants.

Coaches & on-ice help are needed for this program in terms of the one-day a week for Hockey.  The more hands on deck, the better.

If you are interested in helping teach the fundamentals of hockey, when you register your player, respond "yes" to "Are you interested in a bench staff position."  This will help the Coach Selection Committee review who has volunteered to help.  We are a completely volunteer run organization, and we need volunteers and qualified coaches in order to ensure ice times are maximized.  We do offer training as well as coach mentoring, however having practical hockey experience and knowledge of hockey skills is an asset for all ages.

I am still confused on what to do for my child.  Who should I contact?
If you want to discuss the program, the practical part of the program, and whether it is a good fit for your family, please call Nigel Simpson at (519) 777-0813. 

If you have questions about funding, need help with the Hockey Canada (including uploading documents) you can always email Jessica Small, (Registrar) or send us a message on facebook.