Cost, commitment and lack of fun. These are the top three reasons people give for not playing or not returning to play youth hockey. The Minnesota Hockey Recreation League has eliminated these arguments by providing a low cost, low commitment program that is focused on fun and keeping kids on the ice.
The Minnesota Hockey Recreation League (“Rec League”) started up in the 2009-2010 season. There were 78 players during the inaugural season. Four years later, the Rec League has grown to over 260 participants and three age levels – 12U, 14U and 16U. The league is primarily based in the metro area, but players are coming from farther and farther away.
“We have kids coming up from Hastings and all the way down from Stacy and Milaca,” said Rec League Director, Tom Mickus. “If they want to play, we make sure they have a team.”
The Rec League’s philosophy is founded upon making sure the kids are having fun while giving them the opportunity to pursue other activities. Each week consists of the team hosting one weeknight practice and a weekend game. The teams are co-ed and the games are non-checking. Practices are mostly focused on skill development but typically end with a scrimmage or other game.
“This league is just for fun,” said Mickus. “It is an avenue to keep kids playing. We have had kids come to take a break from association hockey, then go back when they realize they miss the competitive side. There have also been some kids where this was their first experience with organized hockey.”
With its focus on fun, low cost (2012-13 fee was $290, including USA Hockey fees) and only two days of commitment per week, the Rec League is breaking down barriers to participation, making it possible for everyone to play youth hockey. Registration for the 2013-14 season will begin on Oct. 1st, 2013.