What a season to start playing minor hockey!

$150 free gear and coaching by former defender for the Missouri Mavericks, David Simoes

Minor Hockey Initiation Program Game at the Vanderhoof arena on Jan 14. Houston’s team crosses sticks with the Bears. Photo Black Press

Yes, you read right. It’s not enough that all new players aged 5 – 8 years get $150 free gear – they get to be coached by hockey great David Simoes as well!

David Simoes is the head coach of this year’s Vanderhoof Bears Initiation program. Simoes’ professional career success is a credit to his roots in Vanderhoof, growing up here and playing Bears Minor Hockey.

And what’s up with the free gear you ask? Well, back in April actually, Vanderhoof &District Minor Hockey Association was awarded the Grassroots Grant through the Hockey Canada Foundation to supply this seasons first year players, aged 5 – 8, with $150 worth of equipment to help get young players into the game.

FUNdamental skills development

A new program called “Initiation” has been rolled out across Canada that focuses on the FUNdamental skills of hockey and follows Hockey Canada’s Long-term player development model.

The program is set up to provide the basic skills to young players in a fun and engaging way.

More action in cross-ice games

The big change is the focus on small area games. The game setup is cross-ice instead of the traditional full rink surface. No other sport out there has 5 and 6 year olds playing on the same size game surface as adults.

Cross-ice was implemented to teach basic hockey skills in a safe and stress free environment so the players can enjoy the game.

More passes and shots per player

By moving to cross ice hockey, direction changes, puck touches, pass attempts and puck battles are doubled and shots per player are six (6) times higher for each player.

6x more shots on goal/player

5x more passes received/player

2x more puck battles/player

2x more puck touches/player

2x more pass attempts/player

2x more change of direction/pivots

1.75 shots/min. vs. 0.45 playing full ice

Initiation games better for spectators

The game is much more fun and entertaining for spectators as well. We used to see the fastest players from each team just exchange breakaways and the rest wait at center to take the face-off. Now players are more engaged, there is more action that involves all the players on the ice.

Best ice times for the beginners

The best part about Minor Hockey in Vanderhoof is the great ice times we get. The Initiation program has prime ice slots on 5:45 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays. None of that dreaded 5:00 a.m. practices people hear about.

Minimum travel, optional tournaments

Another big advantage of Initiation hockey is with the focus on development, there is very little travel. There are four weekends through the entire season where there are optional tournaments to attend.

Head coach is hockey great David Simoes

Simoes is still involved with the game of hockey and his son Peter, now five years old, is on the ice now too just like his father. Peter is getting help lacing up skates to follow in the footsteps of his dad, and Simoes will be right there, coaching him through the Vanderhoof Bears Initiation program along with about three dozen other potential hockey stars.

For more information or to register for the 2017/18 season, visit the Vanderhoof Minor Hockey website: http://vanderhoofminorhockey.ca

– with files submitted by Minor Hockey Coach Jason Kadonaga


Holding the cheque are (left to right) former Vanderhoof bear Hunter Floris, VMHA president Steve Little and VMHA Referee in chief Glenn Wild recieving the grant at Kin 1 in Prince George during the Telus Cup on April 29. (Photo Marty Floris)