Initiation Program (Cross-ice/Half-ice hockey)

GTHL_IP (00000003)


The Initiation Program (6, 7 & 8 yr olds ) was developed by Hockey Canada to make a child’s first contact with hockey a fun, safe, and positive experience. The cross-ice/half-ice learn-to-play environment allows beginners to learn age appropriate skills and become contributing members of a team, develop confidence, and experience personal achievement.

Cross-ice/half-ice hockey allows young players to experience more puck-handling, shooting, skating, coordination and decision-making. Small-area games are used at all levels of the game – including senior national teams and the NHL.

The goal of the GTHL will be to provide education and support to Minor Hockey Associations, Players, and Families, as they develop their IP  programs.

For more information about cross-ice/half-ice hockey please check out our website resources or for assistance with your IP program, please contact GTHL Technical Director, Coach and Player Development Brian Kyla-Lassila or GTHL Initiation Program Coordinator Jeff Campbell –

Cross-Ice Hockey

Beginning in the 2017 – 2018 season, players in the Initiation Program (6 and under) must train and play in a cross-ice format regardless of competition level/tier. This new requirement is in response to Hockey Canada’s current mandate of age appropriate programming, the Long Term Player Development model, and Sport Canada’s Long-Term Athlete Development model.

Hockey Canada Announcement

OHF Support

Benefits of Cross Ice Hockey

It is important to fully understand and appreciate the benefits of cross ice hockey and why Hockey Canada has a national policy ensuring all Initiation level hockey is played in smaller, modified spaces.


For Parents and Stakeholders

From a child’s view Parents find Full-Ice Hockey NO FUN

Video courtesy of USA Hockey


Hockey Canada resource for Parents

Hockey Canada Parent FAQ

GTHL Benefits & Long Term Player Development Download

Coaching Association of Canada – Long Term Athlete Development for Parents

NHL Analytics Tracking of U8 Hockey Players

Video courtesy of USA Hockey

What an Initiation Program looks like

• 85% Technical skills
• 15% Individual tactics
• 0% Team tactics
• 0% Team play
• 0% Strategy

Initiation Skills Downloads