St. Paul, MN – July 18, 2023 – Minnesota Hockey announced today that it will be seeking an exemption from USA Hockey to allow for slight modifications to its current playing rules for Mites & 8U teams. While the current standard play for Mites & 8U continues to be cross or half-ice games, beginning January 15th, associations may let their Mite & 8U teams play up to ten full-ice events (including league games, exhibition games, jamboree games and controlled scrimmages) in the 2023-24 season. This will be an increase in the allowance of full-ice events from two in the 2022-23 season. The Mini Mite & 6U level will not be impacted by this rule change, as those teams will continue to play their games on cross or half-ice, as this is in the best interest of their development at a young age. Additionally, Intermediate nets, which are 4’ wide by 3’ high, will be required in these events, and associations must get approval from their District Director before they are allowed to play in the events. The District Director’s decision will be final.
This rule change was approved by USA Hockey and will go into effect in the 2023-24 season.
“While Minnesota Hockey still firmly believes and highly recommends all Mite & 8U games be played on cross or half-ice, this exemption creates opportunities for player development for the players who are aging out of Mites & 8U,” said Minnesota Hockey’s Vice President of Hockey Operations, Jeremy Reed. “We hope this slight change, combined with the requirement to use Intermediate-sized nets, will provide for a great experience as these players end their Mite & 8U years.”
While teams will be allowed to play up to ten full-ice events, there is no requirement to play any full-ice events should they decide that they are not needed. Cross or half-ice games promote more puck touches for all, quicker-decision making amongst players and better utilization of the ice surface, to name just a few benefits. However, Minnesota Hockey also recognizes that approximately 25% of its players in the Mite & 8U classification would qualify for the USA Hockey Squirt & 10U classification based on their birth year. Additionally, some teams desire to work on several aspects of the full-ice game to prepare for the transition to the Squirt & 10U classification. This will also allow for more training of first-year officials who are being introduced to their first refereeing experience.
Intermediate nets will be used due to the benefits that they provide to developing goalies and skaters as they properly fit the players at this age range. Intermediate nets allow younger, smaller goalies the ability to take up a proportionate amount of the net, which allows them to develop and be more effective. Young goalies will have increased confidence in their abilities with intermediate nets as they will give up fewer goals and gain a better understanding of their positioning. These nets also benefit offensive players, who are now forced to shoot more accurately as well as win puck battles in front of the net created by more rebounds.
Minnesota Hockey’s goal is to assist local community hockey associations in delivering the best possible age-appropriate skill development experience through quality station-based practices, efficient use of ice time, small-area games and off-ice athleticism training in a positive and fun environment.