The Sherwood Park Minor Hockey Association, along with its partners in SPS Fuzion and the Sherwood Park Kings Athletic Club, offers a variety of hockey programs to its members, including:
● Intro to Hockey for ages 5-9
● Community Hockey for ages 10-21
● Recreational Hockey for ages 9-21
● Competitive Hockey for ages 12-21
● Female-Only Hockey for ages 9-21
Hockey Canada’s recommended programming suggests recreational, community and competitive streams for all age groups, outside of the Intro to Hockey Program, as it aligns with the Long Term Player Development Model. In accordance with this recommendation from the National governing body, and the results of a recent pulse survey of our membership, SPMHA has identified an opportunity to add an additional program offering, and will explore the launch of a competitive stream in the U11 division in the 2020-2021 season. The pilot is to be reviewed at the
end of the season and if successful, and feasible, the Association will consider the expansion of the program into the U13 and U15 divisions in subsequent seasons. To align with the current competitive stream offerings, this pilot program will consider those players that are assigned to the Tier 1 and Tier 2 teams of the U11 division (subject to registration numbers and team requirements). Features of the program will align with Hockey Canada’s recommendation and will include:
● an increased number of development/practice hours
● an increased full-ice to half-ice practice ratio
● skills providers both on-ice and off-ice
● an increased community presence
● partnership with SPKAC in terms of coach development and player development opportunities
SPMHA will leverage economies of scale to ensure a cost-effective program. The additional costs will be the responsibility of the teams, which will be encouraged to fundraise to meet this financial need, and will be provided appropriate time to do so.
SPMHA introduced more pay-as-you-go in-season development opportunities last season available to all members of the Association. These will continue to be offered to all SPMHA registrants (age-permitting), less the members of this pilot. The Executive believes that these members should be afforded the opportunity to participate in cost-effective development opportunities within their own community, and at their own choosing. This will include, but is not limited to, power skating, agility & skills training, and an increased focus on goaltender development. The Association is continuously committed to directing resources to enhancing both player and coach development, so that everyone has an opportunity available to them.
This pilot program is another forward-step for SPMHA’s evolution, along with both the Hockey Canada Long Term Player Development model and the current hockey environment. It is a sign of our commitment to making sure that we are working to improve the offerings within the community.
What about COVID?
A hockey season can run at warp speed. The Association believes that the current COVID environment allows the opportunity for everything to slow down enough to integrate a program without feeling the rush of a typical
season. We understand that there may be proposed components of the program that cannot be fully integrated pending guidelines from Provincial health authorities and will commit to communicating information in a timely fashion. Stay tuned for more details in the near future.