Understanding U8 Hockey (Guelph Minor Hockey Association)

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Understanding U8 Hockey

Minor hockey at the U8 (7 years old) age group has evolved significantly over the past several years.

Previously known as "Tyke", this age once operated with the same season structure and focus as all older age groups, including rep seasons that focused on full-ice games and typically offered a practice to game ratio of 1:1.

The game is ever-changing, and Hockey Canada's U9 Player Pathway has brought significant change to the U8 age group.

  • There is no longer any rep hockey at the U8 age.

  • Practice to game ratios are targeted to be 2:1 or even 3:1 where possible, based on the program in which players are participating.

  • Games are limited to half-ice as a more appropriate space for young players to use their skills.

  • The season progresses through the stages of evaluation, development, game play, and season-end.

  • Participation in accelerated programs should be desire-based instead of ability-based.

Learn More About the U9 Player Pathway

Available Options

Guelph Minor Hockey’s programming at the U8 age group is broken into 2 different available options.

In line with Hockey Canada's U9 Player Pathway, GMHA's programs at this age are divided into low-frequency and high-frequency offerings that players and families can pursue based on their desired level of participation and development.


Skill Development 3 (SD3)

This is the “low frequency” option for 7 year old players interested in 1 practice and 1 game each week. SD3 is open to general registration and provides an introductory/recreational experience for U8 hockey players. 

Learn more about SD3 here…

U8 Advanced Development (ADP)

This is the "high frequency" option, combining additional ice-time with professional skills coaches to offer accelerated development for young players. The commitment includes 3 weekly practices and 1 weekly game (sometimes 2 once league play begins), as well as an additional “ADP Fee” that covers the additional associated costs.

To participate in U8 ADP, players must register for ADP Evaluations and be selected for one of the 2 teams (36 players total).

Accessing Additional Skill Development

As a team-based program, U8 Advanced Development is limited to 2 teams of 18 players, or 36 total participants.

However, players who do not participate in ADP (either because they did not participate in ADP Evaluations, or because they were not selected for an ADP team), have the option to access additional skill development opportunities for an additional fee:


Access by Desire...Not Skill

A key tenet of GMHA’s U8 hockey programs is the ability for players to access programs based on their desire to participate and develop, as opposed to their current skill level.

Players interested in a low frequency, recreational experience can simply register for Skill Development 3 (SD3).

The high-frequency option of U8 Advanced Development (ADP) is for those players and families who want to invest more time and effort into development and are willing to make the commitment. 

While team-based programs will always have a maximum capacity and involve some element of player evaluation and selection, GMHA’s goals at U8 include:

  • Having players compete in games based on their current level of play (i.e., ADP teams if selected, or Skill Development teams if that is currently more appropriate).

  • Providing access to extra skills sessions for players who are not yet ready for selection to an ADP team, but who have a desire to invest more time and effort into their development.

Equitable access to programming and coaching helps to avoid the early streaming of players, and helps to ensure that all of our Guelph players have an opportunity to be the best they can be!