Overview of Changes to Novice Hockey Commencing 2019/2020 Season

Novice Parents of SSMHA

This communication is intended to provide information concerning the changes to the Novice division within minor hockey as mandated by Hockey Canada.

Effective this September 2019, ALL Novice levels will play on a half ice surface for both practices and games. Games will be played with 4 players per side plus a goaltender and teams will be made up of 9-13 players per team. For game specifics please note the following:

  • Scores will not be kept.
  • Puck will be dropped at the start of each period only.
  • Shifts will be 90 seconds and regulated by the arena game clock with a preset buzzer.
  • At the buzzer, puck is left at the end of play and next shift plays from there.
  • No icings or offsides, however, the referee will enforce penalties.
  • A penalty called is noted to the coach at the end of the shift and that player is delayed their next shift by one rotation.
  • Goalies are rotated through the team with each player taking a turn through the season.

The levels of the Novice division are as follows:

  • Tier 1 (Old AA, AAA)
  • Tier 2 (Old B Rep)
  • Tier 3 (Old B House)
  • Tier 4 (Old C House)

Our SSMHA novice teams will play in the Lower St. Lawrence Minor Hockey League who are providing divisions Tier 2, Tier 3 & Tier 4. The season will consist of a 22 game schedule against other associations within District 2 namely Akwesasne, Alexandria, Char-Lan, Cornwall & NGS. Games will not commence until November. There will be no playoffs.

SSMHA will be putting teams in the Tier 2, Tier 3 & Tier 4 divisions of LSLMHL and we will be holding tryouts in September for the Tier 2 and Tier 3 divisions.

The executive of SSMHA recognize that this is a fundamental change to the Novice division, however, we encourage all players, parents and coaches to review the following links and data available to understand why Hockey Canada has made this decision. The data shows that the development of Novice aged players are greatly enhanced by utilizing a smaller ice surface and less players. More touches of puck per player, more shots per player, more creativity in smaller areas, etc.. 

As an executive, we are continuing to discuss and develop specifics as to how we are approaching scheduling, tryout process and size of teams and we ask that you bear with us as we implement these changes.

The following link is for everyone, not just coaches, and describes the changes in detail as well as the research in the changes in player development from full ice to half ice.


The following link is the policy specific through HEO Minor enacting the Novice program as prescribed by Hockey Canada and has details of items such as Tiering, team size, affiliations, etc..


Again, the executive encourages all players, parents and coaches to review the documentation to understand the program to its fullest and to appreciate the player development that this program is designed to enhance.

Yours in hockey,

Robert S. Walker



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