Intro to Hockey

Hockey Canada has approved national policies that mandate all Initiation-aged players receive age-appropriate programming on cross-ice or half-ice surfaces (effective for the 2016-17 season) and Novice-aged players for the 2019-20 season. A key aspect of each policy is that each of Hockey Canada’s 13 branches can develop a provincial model that best meets the needs of its participants.

Hockey Alberta’s Intro to Hockey Model, for all players aged 5-8 years, will be in effect for the 2019-20 season. It replaces previous models and programming at the Novice and Initiation levels. However, Minor Hockey Associations can opt to make the switch, or undertake a transition process, during the 2018-19 season. The Hockey Alberta Intro to Hockey Model includes the four key components outlined in the tabs below.

Download the full Intro to Hockey Resource Guide:

Download the Novice Game Summary Form:


Applicable to Novice and Initiation age levels
  • Team Format: Two to Four Team Model for Initiation and Two Team Model for Novice
  • Ice Orientation: Half Ice
  • Rink Dividers: Optimal: foam dividers or board system
  • Centre Net Placement: Place net at bottom of circle to enable the middle circle ice marking to be used as the goal line. This allows for a buffer to prevent pucks from crossing into the other playing surface.
  • Roster Size: If roster size is 14 or more use Two - Half Ice Game Model or 13 or less use One - Half Ice Game Model. Minimum roster size is 7 players.
  • Game Format: 4 vs. 4 plus goalie
  • Game Length: Two 24-minute halves
  • Game Warm Up: 3 minutes
  • Face-Off Dot: Draw a face-off dot in the middle of each half ice rink
  • Nets: Regulation (4’ x 6’) or smaller
  • Puck: Recommend Blue Puck (4 oz.)
  • Score Kept: None
  • Benches: Teams share benches
  • Positional Play: No position specialization, no full-time goalies – every player takes a turn
  • Line Matching: Encouraged to ensure like-minded skill levels are playing against each other
  • Standings, Statistics: None
  • Game Sheets: Not Required
  • Face-Offs: Start of game and second half
  • Off-Side & Icing: None
  • Puck Out of Play: Drop new puck to non-offending team
  • Goaltender Freezes Puck: Offending team backs off and goalie gives puck to a teammate to resume play
  • Goal is Scored: Scoring team backs off and goalie pulls puck out of his net and gives to teammate to resume play
Applicable to Initiation age levels only
  • Initiation Shift Length: 3 minutes; buzzer is set to 3-minute intervals, on buzzer players leave puck, go to bench and new players enter the ice and continue to play
  • Initiation Goalie Equipment: Goalie stick is allowed; no other equipment
  • Initiation Officials: Not Required, coaches are to be on ice to control play
Applicable to Novice age levels only
  • Novice Shift Length: 1.5 minutes; buzzer is set to 1.5 min intervals, on buzzer players leave puck, go to bench and new players enter the ice and continue to play.
  • Novice Goalie Equipment: Yes, please note: 2 sets will be required for 2-game model
  • Novice Officials: 1 or 2 per game – both are acceptable
  • Penalties: Only applicable for Novice Hockey. Referee puts arm up to signal penalty, if offending team has the puck it is a change of possession as indicated by the referee. At buzzer at the end of the shift the referee tells the coach what the penalty was and who got it. Offending player misses next shift, team still plays full strength.