Navy Youth Hockey Mite (8U) Program Overview
Season goals and Structure
Navy Youth Hockey (NYH) goals for the U8 level is to emphasize development through age and skill specific training by prioritizing practice and skill development over quantity of games, particularly for the more novice players. Grouping players with similar skill is important at this level to increase the development of core and foundational skills while increasing the player's love for hockey.
NYH projects to field two Mite teams in the Chesapeake Bay Hockey League (CBHL) during the 2017-2018 season for players born in 2009 and later; this will depend on player assessments at the start of the season. Our Mite Blue and Gold teams will be comprised of older, more experienced players and will require a higher level of player and family commitment throughout the season. The Mite White team will have typically younger and less experienced players and will include players rising from the Navy Learn to Play (LTP) Hockey program. The primary focus with the Mite White team will be practice and in-house games with occasional opportunities for play against other teams.
Each team will have a designated head coach and team manager, with additional coaching staff as available. The Tomorrow’s Ice training team will assist the coaching staff with a focus on core skill development throughout the season.
The team assignments will be determined following Mite evaluation practices at the start of the NYH season in early September 2017 and is expected to be completed within the first several practices. This may include specific CBHL half ice team evaluation sessions.
Teams will be selected based on both the skill level of the player and his/her birth years. Only 2009 & 2010 birth year players will be considered eligible for the CBHL half-ice team(s). 2011 birth year players will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Our target number of players for the CBHL team(s) is a maximum of 10 players (including goalies).
NYH’s Mite player placement is driven by a desire to place kids in the division that provides them with the best opportunity to improve their skills, allow for a more effective use of practice ice time, and increases the enjoyment factor for the kids when they are grouped by similar abilities. Grouping players based on skill ensures they receive the most appropriate level of instruction to maximize the number of “touches” on the puck the player will experience in practice and in games and to provide the optimum environment for that player not only to develop his or her hockey skills, but also to have fun and enjoy the game of hockey.
Depending on the makeup of each team, coaches may need to rotate several players into the goalie position throughout the season. Prior to playing goalie in any game or tournament, every effort will be made to provide the player an opportunity to practice and train in the position. NYH will provide goalie equipment.
For a variety of reasons, the coaching staff may move some players between teams during the season for particular events and as required (e.g. in order to complete a roster if player availability is a problem.)
All Mite teams will typically share practice ice throughout the season with occasional separate training opportunities. Practices generally will be station-based and follow USA Hockey’s American Development Model (ADM), with players rotating through stations based on similar skill and experience as well as with players on their team. Some practices may include Navy’s LTP students as well. Coaches may structure some training sessions so that each team on the ice conducts drills, including cross-ice games, only with their team and depending on ice time availability. Throughout the season coaches may include some off-ice conditioning and skill training as well.
Practices will likely be early weekend mornings at Navy’s McMullen Ice Arena and/or Quiet Waters Park outdoor rink in Annapolis, as well as Tuesday evenings at the Quiet Waters Park, as weather permits. Any additional or different practice schedule will be published once available.
Navy Mite teams registered to play in the CBHL (likely Gold and Blue) will play 4v4 (plus goaltender) half-ice games in league play between November 1 and February 28. New for the 2017-2018 season, all 8U Mite CBHL teams will follow a jamboree (mini-tournament) format consisting of tournament style play with approximately six teams per event with multiple 24-minute games. These jamborees will occur on weekend days, will last approximately three hours, and could be anywhere within the CBHL region (Maryland, DC, Virginia).
The Navy White team will not be aligned with the CBHL and will remain focused on skill development through practice sessions and in-house cross-ice games. Depending on the number and skill level, some players may be provided opportunities to participate in jamboree or other games that will typically be 4x4 (plus goaltender) cross-ice format. These opportunities sometimes emerge with only a few days’ notice.
Tournament play is a great aspect of youth hockey and provides an excellent opportunity for players. Navy Mite Gold and Blue teams will likely enter both local and out-of-area (overnight/weekend) tournaments at the discretion of the coaches, managers and depending on the player and family availability. Mite players will also have a chance to play in the Navy-hosted end-of-season Hockey for Heroes charity tournament as well.