Select hockey can be an incredibly rewarding experience for your child and your family. Not only is it a great hockey experience, but it is also a great life experience. The players, parents, and even siblings often develop friendships that can last a lifetime.
Select hockey is the next level up from House League. Each birth year has its own select division, and each division has several tiers. The number of tiers can fluctuate from year to year, but there are generally between 3 and 5 of them. Tier 1 is the highest tier with the strongest players, and each subsequent tier represents the next level of hockey. Teams are re-tiered at the end of December so that the weaker teams can move down, and the stronger teams can move up to more appropriate levels of competition.
The other important thing to note is that player who play select hockey must also participate in house league. So all select practices and games are over and above the commitment to house league. More on this later.
George Bell and Select Hockey
Over the last few years, George Bell has had a very successful select program. In each division, the organization generally fields two select teams. One team is typically a very competitive Tier 1 team, and the other plays in one of the lower tiers. George Bell has become known as one of the top select programs in the GTA with some of the city’s top players coming from the organization.
What is the time commitment?
As mentioned above, each select player must also play house league. The house league commitment is one hour per week with skills starting in September, and league games starting in the new calendar year. During January and February the house league has optional outdoor house league practices.
In addition, select players will generally have 2 team practices per week, and one league game per week. From time to time, the select coaches will find additional practice times, and the league will schedule additional games. So the total commitment is typically 4 times on the ice per week. There are also several weekend tournaments throughout the year (one being an overnight tournament). The tournaments are a lot of fun and give the kids a chance to bond further as they are often spending the entire weekend together. The playoffs are generally over in mid-April.
Often the majority of the commitment falls on the weekends leaving weekday evenings mostly free (most select games are on weekday evenings, but that is typically one per week). However, depending on the team schedule, one of the practices could also be held during the week. Many of the top players will augment their game and practice schedule with extracurricular power skating classes, and shinny throughout the year and offseason.
How should I prepare my child?
George Bell organizes a great skating and skill development program in the spring. If you have not already signed up, it is a good idea to sign up for and attend these sessions. In addition, there are several 3 and 3 and 4 on 4 leagues around the GTHL. These leagues help your child get an opportunity to play the game and have the puck on their stick much more often than in regular 5 on 5 hockey. Power skating is also always a good idea.
Finally, there are many hockey camps in the city over the March break and throughout the summer. It is a good idea to be registered in one of these leading up to the season so your child is ready to go when the season starts.