U9 Program

Hockey Canada has approved national policies that mandate all U9 aged players receive age-appropriate programming on half-ice surfaces effective for the 2019-20 season. This mandate will see U9 game play in HEO move to a half ice format for the start of the 2019-20 season.

In response to this new mandate, and the changes it required, Hockey Eastern Ontario created a U9 Task Group with representatives from HEO, HEO Minor, Districts, MHAs and Officiating. The role of the task group was to develop a Branch plan and strategy for the implementation of this policy mandate.

U9 Task Group

  • Greg Clarke, Task Group Chair, District 10
  • Gary Hopkins, HEO Minor President
  • Reg McDonald, District 9
  • Pat MacLeod, District 2
  • Cory Gregory, District 12
  • Grayson Foley, District 9
  • Brent Gould, District 5
  • Krista Outhwaite, Bytown District
  • Paul Barnes, District 11
  • Chantal Brule, District 10
  • Tom Meagher, HEO Minor Alternate RIC
  • Jeff Robert, HEO Development Programs Offcier
  • Brian Gillam, Hockey Canada U9 Task Group Rep



Hockey Canada developed the program to ensure that a child’s early experiences with hockey are delivered in a safe and positive experience. The program enables participants to become contributing members of a team effort, develop self-confidence and experience a sense of personal achievement. The goals of the program are:

  • To have fun while playing hockey and engaging in physical activity
  • To learn the fundamental skills required to play the game of hockey
  • To develop and refine basic motor patterns
  • To be introduced to the concepts of cooperation and fair play
  • Get small kids off full size adult rinks and into an age/size appropriate game playing area
  • Get kids more engaged in game play, provide more enjoyment for kids in the games and less boredom
  • Increase skill development in games by decreasing space and increasing the puck touches and skill executions
  • Provide a more logical progression from cross ice game play at U7

HEO has a representative on the Hockey Canada Task Team. In addition, as part of the HEO Development Committee, a HEO/HEO Minor U9 Sub-Committee has been struck. There are representatives from Districts and Associations within the branch to reflect our local issues and concerns.

Yes. However, it is understood that there is a wide variety of programs with different local conditions so as the policies are developed, they will be designed with some degree of flexibility so local conditions can be accommodated.

No. Players under 7 years of age will not be permitted to play in the U9 program.

It is still anticipated that there will be tiering (where registrant levels permit) to reflect the difference in skill levels. It’s possible that there could be changes to the existing tiering models or the number of tiers as the teams continue their work.

Hockey Canada has not taken a position on competitive hockey only that all U9 programs must be delivered in half ice format. This will be discussed as part of the HEO Development sub-committee.

This is one of the issues that will be reviewed by the HEO Development Sub-committee.

Although the specifics of the program is still in development, it is not expected that this will have a material impact of costs either up or down.

Many of the differences are subtle but represent the natural progression from the U7 cross ice model:

  • The space is bigger when moving from the cross-ice model to the half-ice model
  • Goaltenders are now included in the 4-on-4 half ice model
  • Full size nets are now in use
  • Half ice hockey is played "North-South" rather then "East-West...more like the "North-South" nature of full ice
  • Referees are now added to the game

Half Ice hockey allows U9 kids to move from the cross ice model in a progressive manner while maintaining the age appropriate programming required to focus on all the objectives of the U9 program.


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