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HEADLINES  Subscribe to Wilmington Youth Hockey Association
Tryouts for Squirts and Bantams begin TONIGHT
On Line Registration for tryouts is now Open. Tryouts for the...
Redcats u14 Champions
Registration Details for 2014-2015
Please note that registration has been opened for the coming season. Wilmington...
Raffle Winners: March 1st-31st
The following are the raffle winners: March 1 - Mike Daniels...
MiteX1 Champions at the Central Mass Winter Classic!
Squirt 1s District 10 Champions 2013-2014
Thank You To Our Sponsors
Thank You to our Sponsors (2013-2014) Wilmington Youth...
Disguising Skill Development In Fun Games An Effective Tool For
Disguising Skill Development In Fun Games An Effective Tool For Mites By:   Guy...
USA Hockey Safesport Program
USA Hockey Safesport Program:   The safety of its participants...
Five tips to Improve your Stickhandling
Five tips to Improve your Stickhandling 07/24/2013, 10:15am...
4 Keys to a Successful u10 Practice
4 Keys to a Successful 10U Practice 09/23/2013, 2:15pm...
Hockey Night in Wilmington Coming Soon with your Help!
Dear Wilmington Youth Hockey families,   Do you wish that...
USA Hockey approves all points of progressive checking skill
USA Hockey Board of Directors Approves All Points...
Kids Ask Parents to Stop Sports Bullying
Kids Ask Parents to Stop Sports Bullying New...
My 13 simple rules for hockey parents everywhere
My 13 simple rules for hockey parents everywhere By John Buccigross ESPN.com Archive Women...
Tryouts for Squirts and Bantams begin TONIGHT
by posted 04/10/2014

On Line Registration for tryouts is now Open.

Tryouts for the Squirts and Bantams begin tonight:  4/10

Thursday 4/10: 6:00 – 7:20 ~ Squirts

Thursday 4/10: 7:30 – 8:50 ~ Bantams

Friday 4/11: 6:30 – 7:30 ~ Squirts
Friday 4/11: 7:40 – 8:40 ~ Bantams

Thursday 4/17: 6:00 – 7:20 ~ Squirts
Thursday 4/17: 7:30 – 8:50 ~ Bantams

Players will not be allowed to register if they have outstanding balances.

Game Only option available (details on the website).

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Redcats u14 Champions
by posted 04/07/2014

MYCGL Champions 2013-2014

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Registration Details for 2014-2015
by posted 04/01/2014

Please note that registration has been opened for the coming season.

Wilmington will be offering the Game Only option again this year, details can be found under the "Program Info" tab on our website.

There will be a $75 tryout fee for all skaters, a $50 tryout fee for all goalies.

Tryout fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.  The tryout fee will NOT be applied to the total tuition payment for the following season.

Final tuition will be determined after tryouts.

Players will not be allowed to participate in the tryouts without proper registration forms and fees turned in beforehand.

Players that have past due tuition balances from the prior season will not be allowed to tryout until outstanding balances have been paid in full.

Out of town players are welcome to register and tryout, however the Massachusetts Hockey Rules and Regulations only permit a certain number of out of town kids per team (MA ONLY).  The BOD will determine whether or not and how many players will be permitted to join the program from out of town.  In the event that the decision is made to not permit your child to join the program, you will be refunded the registration/tryout fee.

Goalies will be given a discounted tuition in the squirt through bantam levels.  TBD

Families with three or more players in the program will be granted a multi-player discount.  That discount is 15% off the third lowest registration.

WYHA plans to hold a "shirt night" in early September where players can come and pick up their practice jersey.  No equipment will be handed out to players unless their dues are paid up to date and players MUST be registered with USA Hockey.

Players who do not maintain their accounts on a timely basis will be suspended from participation.  If you anticipate any difficulty in meeting the payment schedule you are obligated to notify the program's Treasurer.  Midget players must be paid in full prior to participating for their respective teams.

There will be a $20 fee assessed for any returned check.

Payment Address:


Wilmington Youth Hockey

P.O. Box 492

Wilmington, MA 01887

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Raffle Winners: March 1st-31st
by posted 03/31/2014

The following are the raffle winners:

March 1 - Mike Daniels  $100.00   Squirt 1
March 2 - Bridgette Damico  $75.00  Mite X1
March 3 - Tom Joyce  $75.00  Buzzer
March 4 - Michelle and David Smith  $100.00  Peewee 2
March 5 - Jennifer Crane $75.00  sold by Splaine Mite X2
March 6 - Nancy Roberts $75.00 Bantam 1
March 7 - James LeFave  $100.00   Peewee2
March 8 - Katelyn Ardito $75.00  Squirt 1
March 9 - Laura Murray $75.00   Squirt 4
March 10 - $100.00  Tina Chirichiello  Squirt 3
March 11th - $75.00 Tina Chirichiello  Mite 1
March 12th - $75.00 Brian Banks  Mite 1
March 13th - $125.00 Anne Mazzarone sold by Spina Peewee 2
March 14th  - $75.00 Keith Medeiros   Squirt 4
March 15th - $75.00 Doreen Dawson  Bantman 2
March 16th - $100.00 Tim Healey  Peewee 3

March 17th - $75.00 Sharon Saucier  -  Sold by Carl Beatrice  Bantam 1
March 18th  - $75.00 Tina Chirichiello - Squirt 3
March 19th - $100.00 Lori Ryan  - Peewee 3
March 20th - $75.00 Debbie McHugh - Sold by Zach Giardina Mite X1
March 21st - $75.00  Bridette Damico -  MiteX1
March 22nd - $150.00  Brendan Ardito  Squirt 1
March 23rd - $75.00  Stephanie Gates  Squirt 3


March 24th  $75.00 Michelle & David Smith  PW2
March 25th $100.00 Jennifer Ahlin  Bantam 1
March 26th $75.00 Stephen Bowker  Bantam 2
March 27th $75.00 Linda McEwen  Squirt 4 -
March 28th $75.00 Courtney Magnarelli (sold by Carl Beatrice Bantam 1)
March 29th $75.00 Kathleen Giddings (sold by Nolan Gouthro MX2)
March 30th $75.00 Todd Flynn MX2
March 31st $200.00 DiZoglio Family  Mite 1

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MiteX1 Champions at the Central Mass Winter Classic!
by posted 02/26/2014

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Squirt 1s District 10 Champions 2013-2014
by posted 02/11/2014

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Thank You To Our Sponsors
by posted 01/17/2014

Thank You to our Sponsors (2013-2014)

Wilmington Youth Hockey Association would like to thank all our sponsors for participating in the Annual Sponsorship Program. All donated monies and goods will be used for special projects or equipment needed within WYH. Your sponsorship will directly benefit the youth of our community.

"The Power to Give Back" Support Our WYH Supporters

Show your support for our supporters by using their services, buying their products or donating to their cause(s). Let your friends know about our supporters too. Thank you!

Team Sponsor: Worldwide Digital Advertising

Diamond Sponsor: Shea Concrete & Products

Gold Sponsor: Catania Spagna Corp & G & C Concrete Construction

Silver Sponsor: Sports Concussion New England

WYH Jacket WINNERS: Michael DeRose & Braydan Sanborn

Thank you to all WYH Players/Parents who participated in our annual WYH Sponsorship Program 

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Disguising Skill Development In Fun Games An Effective Tool For
by posted 10/20/2013

Disguising Skill Development In Fun Games An Effective Tool For Mites

 Guy Gosselin

When I was growing up in Rochester, Minn., we had six outdoor community rinks within two miles of my house. Depending on the weather conditions, we would play various types of games. Even as a little guy, I was always honored if the big kids let me play, but that usually meant I was the goalie.
We seem to have lost some of that freewheeling fun with today’s overly-structured environment.

That’s why the American Development Model is so important.

Too often, kids show up at the rink and are immediately told what to do and how to do it. Such a structured environment is like throwing a wet blanket over the creativity of our players.

Kids are already overly stimulated enough with all the things going on in their lives away from the rink. Once they step onto the ice, that is their time to have fun.

Here are a few games that will help kids develop their skills while having a lot of fun.

Race Cars

Purpose: This fun game works on the ABCs (Agility, Balance, Coordination and Speed) of physical literacy, in addition to body contact, on-ice awareness and change of direction.
Set Up: Block off a section of the ice with dividers, then place several small dividers or other barriers such as cones or tires in the middle to create an oval. 
Game: When the coach says “Go,” these little race cars start skating clockwise around the track against other skaters, making sure to keep their heads up to avoid crashing.
Switch things up and have them race counter clockwise.




Tire Push Game

Purpose: This fun game works on skating stride, knee bend, keeping your head up, communication and competitiveness.
Set Up: Players split into two teams and line up at opposite ends of the zone. Each team starts with a tire. A coach stands in middle with an extra tire or two.
Game: On the signal, two players from each team turn their sticks over and push the tire toward the opposite end of the zone. One “defender” from each side skates out to meet them and provide resistance. Teams score a point when they push their tire to the opposite end of the zone. When a goal is scored, coach drops the tire back at center ice.

Obstacle Course

Purpose: Promotes the ABCs (Agility, Balance, Coordination and Speed) of physical literacy, along with having a lot of fun.
Set Up: Create an obstacle course in your section of the ice during a station-based practice. You can get as detailed or as basic as you want, depending on the types of obstacles you have available.
Game: I like to use a couple of small dividers to create a starting gate and have the kids go racing out of the gate. Along the course, we set up cones with a stick on top that kids slide under (keep a coach or helper close by to rearrange the cones and stick when someone blows it up), tires or cones to do a 360 around, barriers to jump over, etc. Use your imagination to create a fun obstacle course that will challenge young skaters’ abilities while having fun.


Red Puck, Green Puck

Purpose: This simple game works on stops and starts and on-ice awareness.
Set Up: Kids line up against the boards with a coach facing them a few feet away.
Game: The coach has a red puck and a green puck in each hand behind his back. Players get in the ready position, and on the signal, the coach will present a green puck and the players start skating. Then the coach will hold out the red puck, which indicates the players need to stop.
Variables: This game may not look like much, but kids love it and are working on basic skating skills while they’re having fun.

» The ADM is all about getting kids moving and having fun. The best way to do that is with stationed-based practices that stress a lot of activity. Coaches don’t need to get too technical. Create a practice that features a variety of fun games and you’ll be amazed how quickly kids will not only develop basic skills but also a passion for the game.


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USA Hockey Safesport Program
by posted 10/11/2013
USA Hockey Safesport Program:

The safety of its participants is of paramount importance to USA Hockey.  USA Hockey SafeSport is the organization's program related to off-ice safety.

USA Hockey has long had systems in place to protect its participants from physical abuse, sexual abuse and other types of abuse and misconduct that can be harmful to youth hockey players and other participants.  These include without limitation Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Screening, Locker Room Supervision and Hazing Policies, in addition to Codes of Conduct applicable to administrators, coaches, officials, parents, players and spectators.  The USA Hockey SafeSport Handbook is intended to update and collect USA Hockey’s various policies to protect its participants from all types of misconduct and abuse.

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Five tips to Improve your Stickhandling
by posted 10/03/2013

Five tips to Improve your Stickhandling

07/24/2013, 10:15am EDT
By Touchpoint Admin

Summer is here...but you don't need ice to improve your skills!

5 Stickhandling Drills You Can Do At Home

The season may be in hibernation right now, but that doesn’t mean young hockey players aren’t daydreaming about scoring game-winning goals or setting up their teammates for hat tricks. When the kids aren’t playing baseball, golfing, swimming or hanging out with their friends this off-season, they might get the urge to grab a stick and work on their skills.

Here are five stickhandling drills they can do in your very own driveway, garage or other hard surface to keep your hands and coordination strong:

  1. Figure eight. Place two objects (i.e. hockey gloves, pucks, etc.) on the floor surface about three feet apart. Stickhandle in a figure-eight pattern around the objects using an expansive set of skills, such as cupping and toe-dragging the puck, along with using the entire blade of the stick. Push the objects wider to make the exercise more difficult or push them closer together to make it easier. VIDEO
  1. Golf ball. Stickhandle with a golf ball as fast and as quickly as possible. It’s as simple as that. The golf ball weighs substantially lighter than a puck, allowing the player to practice overspeed stickhandling to help increase quickness and coordination. VIDEO
  1. Around the body. Stickhandle quickly and softly around your body from the forehand side all the way to the backhand side. Perform the drill in both directions. Try to keep your head up and eyes looking forward to simulate skating on the ice through traffic. Gradually rotate stickhandling further away from your body and then close to your feet, forcing you to change your hand position on the shaft of the stick. VIDEO
  1. Hand slide wide. Stickhandle side to side, but extend your reach as far as you can while maintaining control of the puck/ball. Maintain a loose grip with your bottom hand, allowing it to slide up and down the stick shaft to achieve full extension. VIDEO
  1. Push-pull. Line up several pucks in a row. Push the puck out past the first puck and pull it back toward your body with the toe of the blade. Continue moving down the line of pucks and focus on your wrist action. Watch the video to see the reverse exercise to work on your backhand toe drag. VIDEO

Looking for more stickhandling drills that you can do right at home? Check out the entire stick skills video gallery here at MAHockey.org. The drill series was made for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, which consistently produces some of the best American hockey players.

To find other helpful coaching videos for your mobile device visit usahockey.com/mobilecoach


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4 Keys to a Successful u10 Practice
by posted 10/01/2013

4 Keys to a Successful 10U Practice

09/23/2013, 2:15pm MDT
By USAHockey.com

Things often look different from ages 8 to 10. Clothes get bigger, schoolwork heavier and independence grows a bit more. The transition from 8-years-old to double digits in hockey isn’t immune to these changes, as focus shifts from just getting used to the ice with 8U practices, to more skill development at 10U.

“Our biggest emphasis at 10U is the quality practices,” said Ty Hennes, American Development Model regional manager. “The biggest thing we always ask of the kids and parents that puts it into perspective is: ‘What’s the best part of Disneyland? Is it riding the rides or standing in line?’ It’s always the rides, so we tell the kids and parents to find coaches and associations that create the fun ‘ride-like’ environment for their son or daughter with constant activity and no ‘waiting around.’”

Hennes said the best way to get that is with the ADM’s cross-ice games and stations. Four to six stations per practice with three or four teams totaling 40 to 50 skaters will allow kids to touch and pass the puck upwards of 60 or 70 times. But while that may not be entirely new to coaches or parents at the 10U level, there are many things that are.

Here’s what 10U practices should stress:

Skill Development – Practices at 10U should shift focus from training just athletic ability, like in 8U, to skill development. Technical and individual skills – stickhandling, skating, shooting – are crucial at the 10U age when kids still learn fairly quickly. There should be lots of repetition here to take full advantage of this fertile time for skill development.

Visual Demonstrations – Because of the quick learning age, it’s also important to make sure kids are learning the correct way to do these things.  It’s an age that kids still emulate what they are taught visually.

“Kids today are so visually oriented with iPads and iPhones,” said Hennes. “So quality skill demonstrations are very important. If the coaches don’t feel comfortable properly demonstrating, go to YouTube and find a clip or incorporate an older kid into the program or association and have them demonstrate. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned in the past four years is that you can explain it to them, but kids are going to emulate exactly what you’re showing them. It’s a big skill window so it’s important they learn it the right way.”

Creativity – 10U practices should force kids to be creative with their stickhandling. Hennes said one of the favorites of players is called “Junkyard Chaos” where coaches toss out empty garbage cans, tires, etc., and have the kids skate around the widespread objects. This causes them to think for themselves and it teaches them how to steer around traffic in a fun environment. Using a ringette, where each kid has one on their stick, also helps because the kids won’t be worried about losing the ringette. They’ll just focus on control and creativity.

Developing Hockey Sense – At this age, Hennes said kids should start to get “hockey vision.” Practices should help them see the ice more clearly and make better decisions. Because it’s one of the first times players are being asked to make a decision with the puck, coaches should make it an environment that’s fun, where kids aren’t punished for their mistakes and the scoreboard doesn’t dictate how well a player or team is doing.

In all of these drills, games and concepts, 10U practices should be fun. These kids are still fostering a love for the game and they should enjoy coming to the rink.


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Hockey Night in Wilmington Coming Soon with your Help!
by posted 08/30/2013
Dear Wilmington Youth Hockey families,
Do you wish that grandparents, extended family members, and friends who don’t live in our immediate area could share in the excitement of your child’s hockey career? Well, Wilmington Youth Hockey now has a way to do that!!
In an effort to help everyone enjoy your child’s hockey experience even more, WYH has teamed with Wilmington Cable TV for “Hockey Night in Wilmington”.
Hockey Night in Wilmington is a program aired on WCTV. This program began last year at the Buzzer and Mite level and was a great success. This year WYH would like to encourage use of this opportunity throughout all levels of play in WYH.
We are looking for parent/family volunteers (teen siblings can get involved as well) to tape your child’s game and learn the editing system at WCTV. Volunteers would only be asked to tape their own child’s team for games (if you like it and would like to tape other games, that would never be discouraged!). Games will be aired within 1 to 2 weeks of taping/editing. Once aired, the games are uploaded on to Vimeo (a video storage and display website). Once on Vimeo your relatives and friends from anywhere can select the game and watch.
Volunteers would:
-Become a member of WCTV (approximately a $15 annual fee)
-Take a 1 hour camera class
-Once game is taped, sit with WCTV instructor and learn editing tools
-Once game is edited, it will be aired on WCTV
If interested, please contact Tom Dalton at and also notify your child’s Head Coach that you will be taping games.
It’s going to be a great season, so let’s get out there and broadcast it to the world!!
Thank you,
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USA Hockey approves all points of progressive checking skill
by WYHA posted 06/22/2011
USA Hockey Board of Directors Approves All Points of Progressive Checking Skill Development Program


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June 11, 2011

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - USA Hockey's Board of Directors overwhelmingly passed all aspects of the Progressive Checking Skill Development Program today during its 2011 Annual Congress.

The program includes the following elements:

  • It encourages more body contact in the pre-body checking age categories by providing more training and support for coaches and referees; and encouraging more legal body contact in the pre-body checking age categories through “Point of Emphasis” rule #1 passed by the Board.
  • It tightens the standard of play for intimidation hits in the legal body checking age categories. Beginning in the 2011-12 season, legal body checking in games will begin at the Bantam age level (ages 13-14).
  • Beginning in 2011-12, each USA Hockey coach will be required to take an age-specific training module which will provide training information consistent with long-term athlete and childhood development principles for the age category the coach will be engaged with. Each module will include training information for body contact and checking.
  • Each season, USA Hockey officials attend clinics that review points of emphasis relating to the standard of play. These 2011-12 clinics will focus on allowing more body contact consistent with the rules in pre-checking age categories and a tighter standard of play for roughing, cross-checking, boarding, charging, high-sticking and other intimidation hits in the legal body checking divisions.
  • USA Hockey will monitor the on-ice management of games with regular reports from local referee-in-chiefs, coach-in-chiefs and Association Coaching and Education (ACE) administrators to USA Hockey's national office staff in Colorado Springs.
  • USA Hockey will conduct research on the effect of the Progressive Checking Skill Development Program on risk reduction and skill development. The results of the research will be published when completed.
  • The Board also passed rules that prohibit any check that comes in contact with the head or neck. The goal of this rule is to make the player more responsible for actions that make contact to the head or neck similar to rules now in place for stick infractions to the head.


A goal of the Progressive Checking Skill Development Program is to enhance skill development consistent with the American Development Model and its long-term athlete development principles.

Another goal of the program is to improve on-ice management of the game to help reduce potential risks in the sport.

"This program has taken several years of research and discussion to formulate," said Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey. "USA Hockey has the training and support elements in place for our coaches and referees. Parents should know that this program will better prepare their children for the physical part of the game. It should produce less risk since we will be training players in body contact at an earlier age in a progressive manner. We'll also be tightening up the standard of play for intimidation hits in the youth checking divisions.

"There's a lot to like about USA Hockey and particularly today, as our Board has taken a bold step forward in doing what is right for children. We are, at our core, a youth sports organization and doing what's right for children must always be at the heart of our decisions."

"The big winner today is our children," said Tom Chorske, former NHL player and current member of USA Hockey's Board of Directors. "I support all facets of the Progressive Checking Skill Development Program."

"With the knowledge base we have on child development, this is without question the right way forward," said Bret Hedican, former NHL player and two-time Olympian. "Today is a significant one for our sport."

For more information on USA Hockey's Progressive Checking Skill Development Program, visit usahockey.com/bodychecking. 

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Kids Ask Parents to Stop Sports Bullying
by WYHA posted 06/22/2011

Kids Ask Parents to Stop Sports Bullying

New Ad Campaign Asks Parents to Stop Pressuring Kids About Sports

By John Beattie

Dec. 10


In the small farming village of Beachburg, Ontario, in the Ottawa Valley, which they call Canada's hockey cradle, the Pee Wees arrive early for an annual event that brings everything else for square miles to a halt and focuses everyone's attention on center ice.

It's the annual Beachburg Pee Wee tournament, glorious to win but certainly not the Stanley Cup — although you would not know it from the atmosphere in the rink. This is no major-league arena where the stands are heated. It was built by villagers who take their hockey seriously.

You can see your breath here — unless you are holding your breath. And with the score tied at 0-0, everyone is holding their breath.

Everyone, that is, until a hockey father spots an incident on the ice that he is certain should have resulted in a penalty, which would give his son's team the advantage. "C'mon, ref! " he yelled.

The referee ignored the remark. If the kids heard it, they ignored it and just skated on — the same way many of them have learned to steel themselves against comments and screams coming from the stands, coming from parents who so often admonish them for their caliber of play.

And that's the problem. The kids have come out to play a game. Some of the parents have come out with dreams that their kids will someday make it in the National Hockey League and earn millions.

Walter Gretzky has stories about parents that he loves to share. Stories about moms who have told him under no uncertain terms that her child is going to be, well, the next Wayne Gretzky. Walter Gretzky, the father of the hockey legend, is horrified.

"It has to be fun," he said. "Because if it's not fun for them, they just won't want to play anymore. Whether it's a boy or a girl, they'll just pack it in."

Kids: ‘Enough Is Enough’

And that's becoming a real problem in hockey. Too much pressure from the parents is provoking many kids to say enough is enough.

Rick Everding is a hockey dad who is disgusted by the whole business. "Some kids, by the time they get to 15 or 16, they don't even want to go near the ice," he said.

The Canadian Hockey Association has finally taken notice of what's been going on in the stands and has just released an ad campaign telling parents to back off and reminding them it's a game for kids.

The theme of the campaign raises the question: What if the roles were reversed and the children behaved like the parents?

In one ad, a dad and his buddies are playing golf. Dad is getting ready to putt when his son storms out on the green and berates him. "C'mon Dad, focus! Widen your stance a little! Don't slouch!"

Dad's friends look embarrassed, and it doesn't get any better when he misses the putt. "That was pathetic," charges his son.


In yet another ad, two moms in a supermarket accidentally bump shopping carts. It's clearly an accident, but then a daughter berates her mom. "Are you going to let her get away with that? Stand up for yourself!"

And when mom and virtually everyone in the store is clearly embarrassed, the ad ends with the little girl banging on a glass door in the food section chanting, "Fight, fight, fight!"


Refs Used to Abuse

Nancy Glofcheskie is a hockey mom at the Beachburg tournament. She's seen the ads and hopes that others see them too.

"It might make them wake up and think 'hey, that's me doing that,'" she said. "'I'm the idiot in the stands screaming at the referee.'"

There is no shortage of idiots screaming at referees. Minor hockey officials are a hybrid of volunteer — or low-paid near-volunteer — members of the community who come out because they love the game or love kids. But many have been walking away from the rink and not coming back because they have taken too much abuse from parents.

"You just kind of ignore it," said Neil Carter, who became a referee in Beachburg five years ago, when there was a shortage. "These parents act the way you'd never see them act anywhere else. It seems they come into a rink and they think they can just scream and yell at you."

The Canadian Hockey Association has an ad that deals with abusing referees, too. In it, a police officer pulls over a dad and tells him he made an illegal turn. And then the son in the back seat chimes in: "That call stinks. You stink! Dad, tell him that call was crap."


The Arnprior Predators won the Beachburg tournament. The players were ecstatic. The losing team left the ice a little glum, but not nearly as sad as some of the parents who came to the tournament expecting more from their children.

The new ad campaign has only been out for a week. It will take longer than that for all of the parents to remember that it's only a game for kids and therefore too important to take so seriously.



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My 13 simple rules for hockey parents everywhere
by Peter K posted 03/24/2011

My 13 simple rules for hockey parents everywhere

By John Buccigross


Women and men used to gaze up at the stars, awed at the sight and size of the universe, much like Detroit Red Wings fitness trainers used to be in awe at the sight and size of Brett Hull's butt during his final Motor City days.

My understanding of the sky's map is limited to the Big Dipper (good nickname for Buffalo's Tyler Myers, by the way) and the constellation Orion. Orion is located on the celestial equator and can been seen across the world, much like Pat Quinn's head. Its name, Orion, refers to a hunter in Greek mythology. Since my late teenage years, whether I am in Mingo Junction, Ohio, or Vancouver, British Columbia, I always look up and locate Orion. It's my satellite to home and youth.

I first became aware of Orion from the now bankrupt movie production company Orion Pictures Corporation, which made movies from 1978-1998. I remember the company's animated intro prior to the start of a movie: stars from the constellation would twirl into the letter "O" before the entire word "Orion" was spelled out.

It seemed as if 46 percent of movies produced in the late '70s and early '80s, my HBO sweet spot years, were produced by Orion. I am sure this number is probably much lower. "Back to School," "10," "Hoosiers," "Platoon," "No Way Out" and others all began with the animated Orion logo. I would like to publicly thank the now defunct movie company and HBO for my astronomy acumen and the indelible image of Bo Derek jogging on the beach with wet, braided hair. ("Before the Internet, there was HBO." Now there is a slogan to believe in.)

Today, kids, teenagers, adults and Sean Avery don't so much stare up to the trees, clouds, airplanes, stars and 6-foot-9 NHL linesman Mike Cvik as much as they used to; now, most stare down at their cell phones and personal digital assistants (Jim Balsillie's PDA BlackBerry, yo). As a result of all this "looking down," we miss so much up in the heavens. We even look down at these things during dinner, hockey games and Heisman Trophy presentations. People even look down at their PDAs while they drive. Who needs a moon roof on a clear summer night when I can play Tetris on I-95 while I soar through the E-ZPASS lane?

This is my gigantic preamble to why you should one day sign up your young son or daughter to play youth hockey at a local rink near you. If nothing else, it gets them away from electronics and teaches them a small slice of humanity that they can take forward through life, a life with more heart and less battery power. The rink's cold robs electronics of their battery power and signal reception, anyway.

So, if you are a first-time hockey parent, or dream of one day spending more than $10,000 and sacrificing weekends for a decade of glamorous youth or "minor" hockey, here are 13 important things you need to know about the youth hockey universe -- and hockey in general -- to help speed up the assimilation process in joining the "Congregation of Independent Insane in the Membrane Hockey Community Union" or COIIITMHCU. If you move those letters around you eventually get Chicoutimi. A miracle from the star-filled heavens above. (I'm sure my fellow COIIITMHCU members will offer even more, and we can post next week.)

1. Under no circumstances will hockey practice ever be cancelled. Ever. Even on days when school is cancelled, practice is still on. A game may be cancelled due to inclement weather because of travel concerns for the visiting team, but it would have to rain razor blades and bocce balls to cancel hockey practice at your local rink. It's good karma to respect the game.

2. Hockey is an emotional game and your child has the attention span of a chipmunk on NyQuil. The hockey coach will yell a bit during practice; he might even yell at your precious little Sparky. As long as there is teaching involved and not humiliation, it will be good for your child to be taught the right way, with emphasis.

3. Hockey is a very, very, very, very difficult game to play. You are probably terrible at it. It takes high skill and lots of courage, so lay off your kid. Don't berate them. Be patient and encourage them to play. Some kids need more time to learn how to ride the bike, but, in the end, everyone rides a bike about the same way.

Your kids are probably anywhere from age 4-8 when they first take up hockey. They will not get a call from Boston University coach Jack Parker or receive Christmas cards from the Colorado Avalanche's director of scouting. Don't berate them. Demand punctuality and unselfishness for practice and games. That's it. Passion is in someone, or it isn't. One can't implant passion in their child. My primary motive in letting my kids play hockey is exercise, physical fitness and the development of lower-body and core strength that will one day land them on a VH1 reality show that will pay off their student loans or my second mortgage.

4. Actually, I do demand two things from my 10-year-old Squirt, Jackson. Prior to every practice or game, as he turns down AC/DC's "Big Jack," gets out of the car and makes his way to the trunk to haul his hockey bag inside a cold, Connecticut rink, I say, "Jack, be the hardest, most creative and grittiest worker ... and be the one having the most fun." That might be four things, but you know what I mean.

5. Your kids should be dressing themselves and tying their own skates by their second year of Squirt. Jack is 67 pounds with 0 percent body fat and arms of linguini, and he can put on, take off and tie his own skates. If he can, anyone can. I don't go in the locker room anymore. Thank goodness; it stinks in there.

6. Do not fret over penalties not called during games and don't waste long-term heart power screaming at the referees. My observational research reveals the power-play percentage for every Mite hockey game ever played is .0000089 percent; for Squirts, .071 percent. I prefer referees to call zero penalties.

7. Yell like crazy during the game. Say whatever you want. Scream every kind of inane instruction you want to your kids. They can't hear you. In the car ride home, ask them if they had fun and gently promote creativity and competiveness, but only after you take them to Denny's for a Junior Grand Slam breakfast or 7-Eleven for a Slurpee. Having a warm breakfast after an early morning weekend game will become one of your most syrupy sweet memories.

8. Whenever possible, trade in your kids' ice skates and buy used skates, especially during those growing years and even if you can afford to buy new skates every six months. Your kids don't need $180 skates and a $100 stick no matter what your tax bracket is. They will not make them better players.

9. Missing practice (like we stated above) or games is akin to an Irish Catholic missing Mass in 1942. We take attendance at hockey games very seriously. Last week, the Islanders' Brendan Witt was hit by an SUV in Philadelphia. Witt got up off the pavement and walked to Starbucks for a coffee, and then later played against the Flyers that night. Let me repeat that: BRENDAN WITT WAS HIT BY AN SUV ... AND PLAYED THAT NIGHT! Re-read that sentence 56 times a night to your child when they have a case of the sniffles and want to stay home to watch an "iCarly" marathon. By, the way Philadelphia police cited Witt for two minutes in jail for obstruction. Witt will appeal.

10. Teach your kids not to celebrate too much after a goal if your team is winning or losing by a lot. And by all means, tell them celebrate with the team. After they score, tell them not to skate away from their teammates like soccer players. Find the person who passed you the puck and tell him or her, "Great pass." We have immediate group hugs in hockey following a short, instinctive reaction from the goal scorer. I am proud of my boy for a lot of things, but I am most proud at how excited he gets when a teammate scores a goal. He is Alex Ovechkin in this regard.

11. There is no such thing as running up the score in hockey. This is understood at every level. It's very difficult to score goals and unexplainably exhilarating when one does. Now, if we get to 14-1, we may want to take our foot off the gas a tad.

12. Unless their femur is broken in 16 places, Mites or Squirts should not lie on the ice after a fall on the ice or against the boards. Attempt to get up as quickly as one can and slowly skate to the bench.

13. Do not offer cash for goals. This has no upside. Passion and love and drive cannot be taught or bought. I do believe a certain measure of toughness and grit can be slowly encouraged and eventually taught. Encourage your kid to block shots and to battle hard in the corners. It will serve them well in life.

Enjoy the rink. Keep it fun, keep it in perspective and enjoy the madness. In this digital world of electronics, you may find hockey to be the most human endeavor you partake in. Cell phones run on batteries. Hockey players run on blood. Blood is warmer. Welcome.

John Buccigross' e-mail address -- for questions, comments or crosschecks -- is .

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