U7 Information

About the U7 Program

As one of the longest running and most successful minor hockey programs in the City of Thunder Bay, we promise to make your child’s hockey experience the best it can be.

The U7 Program was developed by Hockey Canada and is designed to make children’s first contact with hockey a safe and positive experience. The main goals of the Elks' U7s are to have fun, learn hockey skills, and develop confidence. The emphasis of our program is on teaching technical skills (85%) and individual tactics (15%), as recommended by Hockey Canada.

Over our many years, we have found that this foundation of skills greatly enhances a player’s enjoyment of the game. To enhance our U7 Program, Elks also implements coaching strategies and modifications to the game recommended by Hockey Canada that aid in the skill development of our mini hockey players.


Some of these enhancements include, but are not limited to the following:

  • 5:1 Player to Instructor Ratio (or smaller) – We strive to maintain a small player to instructor ratio. This allows us to focus more on each player’s individual needs. *Note: As you can imagine, this is a hard goal to reach at every ice time throughout the season as we are entirely dependent upon volunteer coaches, assistant coaches, and on-ice helpers. Most volunteers are parents and family members just like yourselves. If you are interested in helping on the ice please let us know!
  • 3:1 Practice to Game Ratio – More practice time allows for a greater number of puck touches and repetitions, and allows a proper teaching sequence (i.e. explain skill, demonstrate, practice skill, correction/feedback/encouragement). This will evolve during the season, with the majority of time being spent on practice at the beginning of the season and a larger game component being introduced as time and skill development progresses.
  • Blue Pucks – The easiest modification for even hockey newbies to identify will be the use of a blue puck. The blue puck is the same size as a regulation, black hockey puck, however it weighs 4 oz (2/3 the weight of a regulation puck at 6 oz). This weight reduction is all about not having disproportionately heavy pucks when compared with the overall weight and undeveloped muscle mass of our young players.
  • Modified Ice Surface – Another modification that will be easily noticed is reducing the size of the playing surface. Games will typically be played using only 1/2 or 1/3 of the ice surface. Again, this is all about proportions for our small players. There are numerous benefits of small-area games for players, young and old alike.
  • USA Hockey Tracking of 8U Players
  • Full Ice Hockey from Child’s View


When does the season start?  When does it end?

The Elks U7 Program will start in October and will run through to the end of March.


When will the kids be on the ice?

Ice times will typically be Mondays between 5:30pm and 7:30pm, and Saturdays between 9am and 12pm. Kids will generally have one hour of ice time on each of those days.


Where will the kids be skating?

All Elks U7 Program ice times will be at Delaney Arena (directions).   During the hockey season there is typically a U7 Program Jamboree that could be held at a different arena.


Do kids need to bring their own jersey?

Jerseys and socks will be handed out at the first ice time, and Elks should have a table set up just inside the main doors at Delaney Arena where they can be picked up.  Jerseys will need to be returned at the end of the season.


What time should we get to the arena?

We suggest arriving no later than 15 minutes prior to your scheduled ice time.  Please aim to have your child fully dressed and ready to go at least five minutes before their scheduled ice time.

Putting on equipment the first few times can be tricky for little kids and can take a while - dressing rooms are generally available 30 minutes prior to the start of your ice time if you think you'll need the extra time.


What equipment does my child need?

The following equipment is required for Initiation Program (IP) players:

  • Helmet with full face mask (CSA approved)
  • Mouth Guard (optional for Initiation Program (IP))
  • Jock/Jill
  • Neck Guard
  • Shoulder Pads
  • Elbow Pads
  • Hockey Gloves
  • Hockey Pants
  • Shin Guards
  • Skates
  • Hockey Stick
  • Equipment Bag
  • Water bottle with name on it (parents, please bring to and from the bench)


How do I know the hockey equipment is sized properly?

Hockey Canada offers a good overview of sizing all equipment for both players and goalies in their video.


How tall should my child's hockey stick be?

Hockey Canada's recommendations are at approximately 8 minutes into this video.


Are there goalies in the U7 Program?

At the start of the season the focus is on basic skill development. Later on, for those that are ready; the Elks will provide goalie equipment for players that are interested in trying the position.   Every player is given the opportunity to try being goalie throughout the season, and once everyone interested has had a turn a player may get another opportunity.  There may or may not be goalies used in all games/practices.