Beginning in the 2017-18 season, Hockey Canada implemented a new policy that mandates cross-ice/half-ice hockey for players at the Initiation age level (traditionally 5- and 6-year-olds).
While the policy making it mandatory is new, half-ice/cross-ice hockey has been part of the Initiation Program since it was first developed more than 35 years ago. The purpose of the IP is to introduce the basic skills of the game, and make a child’s first introduction to the game one that is safe, enjoyable, and fun.
The program is based with the players' development in mind and to make children's first contact with hockey a fun, safe and positive experience. It's a structured, learn to play hockey program designed to introduce beginners to the game's basic skills. It enables participants to become contributing members of a team effort, develop self-confidence, and experience a sense of personal achievement. These goals are achieved in an atmosphere of fun and fair play.
The success of the Initiation Program is measured by the level of development young players achieve. To optimize those levels of development, it is necessary for dedicated adults to play a large role as effective leaders and teachers who will create a challenging and motivating environment for the player.
The goals, philosophy and objectives of the program are:
- Teaching basic hockey skills so players can enjoy the game.
- Assisting in development and enhancement of basic motor patterns.
- Developing and encouraging the concept of team, through player participation in on and off‐ice activities.
- To implement fitness, fair play and co‐operation aspects within the fun of the game.
The OHF is a support for its Members who administer the Initiation Program: the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario (Alliance), the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL), Northern Ontario Hockey Association (NOHA) and the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA)