Hockey by Bauer was created in the summer of 2003 as a way to provide young hockey players with opportunities to play old fashioned “rat hockey”. The great philosopher and educator, Northrup Frye, was once asked the purpose of the school system, “To instill a love of learning,” he said. For it is the love of something that keeps you at it in a way no teacher or coach or parent can. And keeping at it means spending time with it, happily, willingly, until gradually you become good at it.” We at Hockey by Bauer believe in that passion. Kids need to have fun first, learn to love the game, and want to be there for themselves. Too often we as parents try to put the cart before the horse in youth athletics. Wayne Gretzky practiced 8 hours a day because he wanted to be there, not because his dad wanted him there. Teach them to love the game first, and to love it they must have fun playing it. Once you get there, you can sit back and watch them grow.
It’s a great day for hockey.
Why Small Games?
In today’s society of mass organization, sky-rocketing ice costs and rising demands for ice, it is rare that a player can find much old fashioned “rat hockey” time. Outdoor rinks have gone the way of the rotary telephone in terms of popularity and overall use. Players today simply spend the majority of their ice time in structured practice or game situations. Those long days on the outdoor rink no longer exist. As they have vanished so has much of the natural skill and hockey sense that “rat hockey” so effortlessly developed. Hockey by Bauer’s small game approach is an attempt to provide players with that missing link to the crucial development that “rat hockey” supplied in the past. We provide a loose structure of guidelines in creating games that are a combination of high paced skill and mind development. There will be lots of ice time, no sitting on the bench and no referees holding on to the puck. Our limited enrollments, on one half of the ice guarantees maximum participation and plenty of opportunities to handle the puck. It is truly the modern day version of “rat hockey”. Our games are low structured and fast moving forcing players to develop their skills while making game like decisions. And last, but not least, these games are FUN!
One of the comments we often hear when explaining our format is, “will anybody be teaching them anything?” Dave Peterson, former Minnesota high school and USA Olympic coach once said, “The ice is the best coach, it never says no.” We believe the basic concepts of hockey are quite simple and the best way to learn them is by playing the game. Win the race to the puck, once you have the puck learn how
to keep it, control it, protect it, find yourself time and space. If you don’t have the puck, learn how to find open space so you’ll get a pass or learn how to support a teammate and pick up a loose puck. Your successes are rewarded with puck possession, passes that turn into assists and scoring opportunities that turn into goals. When those concepts become engrained you have now developed that hockey sense that is so crucial to being a good player. We at Hockey by Bauer won’t throw out the puck and drink coffee, but we will let the ice, and the game itself become the teacher as much as possible. There won’t be a lot of long lectures and at times it may even look a bit chaotic, welcome to “rat hockey!”
What the Experts Say…
“I would tend to lean on letting them have fun and putting them in an environment where my drills have
a game involved in it. Through those type of small games and how those kids do it will make them enjoy coming to the rink and looking forward to coming back.”
Mark Johnson, Head Coach Badger Women-2006 National Champions
“Everything is so organized and programmed these days that the kids don’t have an opportunity to just
be kids. It used to be the kids would do it themselves. They’d go down to the rink and play by themselves or get a pick-up game organized. They didn’t have video games, DVD’s or computers, or a coach telling them what to do. They played to occupy time.”
Don Lucia, head coach of Minnesota Gophers
“We can do a better job of ice utilization. I cringe when I see a team with 14 skaters out there using
a full sheet of ice. Most of it is wasted. Practice time can be far more productive. Why not have 3 or 4 teams on the ice, especially at the mite & squirt level. Play cross-ice games where the kids are in smaller space and will learn skating and stick skills. Play shinny hockey-there would be a lot more development.”
Don Lucia, head coach of Minnesota Gophers
“Fact: for more than 50% of the ice time rented for games, the puck is not in play! That’s right. If
bantams or pee wees have an hour and a quarter they’d be hard pressed to play three 12-minute stop-time periods. Put a stop watch on the ref sometime in a youth game and you’ll see he has his hand on the puck for about 52% of the ice time. Now, what kind of development is that?”
Jack Blatherwick, author “Overspeed Speed Training for Hockey”
“Everything that happens in full ice will happen in cross ice, only they will happen more often.”
Bill Beaney, Middlebury College (477 career wins, 8-D3 National Championships)
“We’ve realized in the last few years that you don’t develop skills in youth players, playing games on
a full sheet of ice. We need to get back to practicing more.”
Cory McNabb, Manager of Player Development Canadian Hockey Association
“The pee wee player handles the puck an average of 35 to 45 seconds a game on full ice.
That’s more than 100 games for an hour of quality puck time. If you want to be a carpenter and never use a saw, how good can you be?”
George Kingston, Canadian Olympic Development Program
“I sometimes think we should put pucks on the ice, leave a couple of parents to supervise
and the rest of us go in and drink coffee. The kids would love it. It’s the parents who need the games. Well it’s really not entertainment for the parents. It’s suppose to be fun for the kids!”
Ray Lalonde, Toronto Area Youth Hockey Coach
“Games are the least effective development tool & most expensive per minute of time on the ice. We
continue to ignore the facts that playing more games & practicing occasionally is self-defeating & a contradiction to what we say we want for our children.”
Hal Tearse, USA Hockey & Minnesota Amateur Hockey