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U9 and Below

Preparing your Players for the Transition to Full-Ice Hockey

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 12/19/22, 10:00AM EST


Coaches can introduce full-ice concepts during modified ice programming

Photo Credit: Heather Pollock Photography

As players have progressed through modified ice programming, U9 players began the season playing half-ice hockey are now preparing to transition to full-ice. As we approach the January 15th ‘Graduation Day’ to full-ice, U9 coaches can start to prepare their teams for the transition to a larger playing surface.  The focus will continue to be on skill development as teams begin to gradually introduce full-ice concepts and team play.

Coaches should use the coming weeks to introduce concepts such as offsides and icing, as well as the importance of positional play before teams transition to full-ice. During practices, coaches can start using black pucks and regulation sized nets (if not already in use) to show players what to expect after January 15th.


  Before January 15th After January 15th
Ice Surface Size Half-Ice Full-Ice
Game Format 4 vs. 4 5 vs. 5
Nets Small or Regulation Regulation
Shift Length Timed/Buzzer Regulation
Number of Officials 1 or 2 2
Face-offs Start Game Regulation
Offside and Icing No Regulation
Penalties Yes - Modified Regulation
Score No Regulation
Standings No Regulation
Jamboree/Tournament Jamboree Tournament


The coach’s focus remains on skill development and ensuring each player has an equal opportunity to contribute, regardless of skill or ability. Emphasizing fair and equal ice time for every player will further enhance their enjoyment through engagement.

The transition to full-ice is recommended element of the Hockey Canada Player Pathways. These Pathways are a learn-to-play teaching curriculum that prepares players to graduate from one age group to the next. The curriculum introduces, develops and refines the skills of skating, passing, puck control and shooting in a progressive, step-by-step manner.

The primary focus of minor hockey is to provide a safe and fun environment to develop a lifelong passion for the sport, important life skills, and provide age and skill appropriate programming that meets the needs of the player.

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U9 and Below
U9 and Below