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Regular Season Fall/Winter 2019-2020
Fall/Winter 2019-2020 x Regular Season

Starting U-8 Hockey

8U Q&A: The on-ramp to the NHL?

08/28/2019, 8:00am MDT

By Joe Bonnett, ADM Regional Manager

Q: We are starting our first season of 8U hockey this fall with our son. My husband and I are so excited to watch our son play and start his journey toward the NHL. What advice can you give me to make sure he is on the right path?

A: Ice hockey is the greatest team sport on our planet and we’re excited that you and your family are participating in this great game. I admire your passion for hockey and encourage you to explore youth hockey with your child in a fun, sporty, positive manner. 

My first piece of advice is to be sure to pick a program that will nurture your son’s passion for the game. 8U hockey should promote fun in an athletic environment that leaves your child craving more hockey. Hopefully the club you choose has adults in charge that understand childhood development and challenge your son in an age-appropriate manner. Hopefully your son’s practices look different than practices of the 1980s. For optimal fun and skill development, your child should be in small groups of players receiving lots of repetitions and touches, high brain activity, minimal down time and plenty of encouraging feedback from coaches. At the end of practice, if your child is sweaty and smiling, you are well on your way to building the love of the game which will propel your child as he grows into an adult.

Another piece of advice is to find a club that promotes sporty lifestyles. 8U is a time when off-ice activity should be emphasized once or twice a week. Simple balance, agility and coordination games or drills should be played in a safe atmosphere near or at the rink for 20-30 minutes. Acquiring strong skills in all-around athleticism at the 8U stage will help your son acquire difficult hockey skills as they progress in the coming years.

Finally, I would recommend slowing down the journey-to-the-NHL mindset. It’s a long road to the Stanley Cup and 8U isn’t meant to be viewed as the on-ramp. Slow down, enjoy the process and recognize that there’s no need to rush. Ice hockey is a late-development sport.

Recently, Sportsnet Canada picked its top 100 NHL players. Among that group, the average age was 27.35. Of those top 100 players, 79 percent were age 25 or older. Five of those top 100 players were selected in the seventh round or later of the NHL Draft. Four weren’t even drafted at all.

In short, NHL careers are not determined at 14U and below. But in these formative years, you can significantly improve your child’s physical literacy and passion for the game. That leads to a lifetime passion for hockey and healthier, physically active lifestyles. Conversely, if you rush the process and push too hard, you can burn out your child’s candle before puberty hits. I’ve seen many families push hard during 8U, 10U and 12U hockey, only to fizzle out at 14U. That’s not the outcome you want. By maintaining a patient, long-term athlete development approach, you will enjoy the journey with your son significantly more.

5 Reasons to Sign Up for Hockey

09/06/2019, 3:00pm MDT

By Michael Rand

The benefits of playing hockey might be obvious to most people who are already deeply ingrained in the sport.

For those who have little or no experience with hockey, however, some convincing might be in order. After all, everyone who loves the sport now was a beginner with no exposure at one point.

With that in mind, here are five reasons parents should sign their kids up for 8U hockey:

Fun, Fun, Fun

This is the place to start with any sport, but particularly hockey says Kenny Rausch, a regional manager for USA Hockey’s American Development Model.

“The main reason it’s fun is that it’s unique,” Rausch said.

Indeed, there aren’t many sports like it. A puck? Skates? Ice? What happened to running around with a ball? But that’s the fun of it.

“You’re on ice wearing skates, which is different than just going to a playground,” Rausch said. “You are mastering the challenge of skating on a one-quarter inch blade of steel, which makes it more fun than just another sport where you just go run around. You have to learn to skate and master that.”

Active Sport

Rausch knows that some sports, camps, clubs and activities are more active than others. 

“We’ve all seen the poor little kid who never touches the ball, never gets involved in the play, and so they just stand around because it isn’t designed to include everyone. That’s not fun,” Rausch said. “If you watch some kids’ activities, it’s unbelievable how much standing around there is.”

Hockey, on the other hand, is close to non-stop motion at the 8U level when it’s at its best. That means kids are active and engaged – and therefore more likely to get exercise and have fun.

“If it’s done right at 8U, being around the puck on small surfaces, hockey is a very engaging sport,” Rausch says. “If you do 8U hockey properly there’s no work-to-rest ratio. Kids might be moving 45 minutes of a 60-minute practice if it’s done right.”

Safety In Mind

But what about keeping kids safe? That’s a question any parent would naturally ask, particularly when signing a young child up for something new.

“The easiest way to say it, and not to be flippant, but an accident can happen in any sport anywhere,” Rausch said. “But with all the initiatives we have like Heads Up, Don’t Duck and teaching body contact properly, we’re trying to minimize dangers. I think we’re on the cutting edge of safety and doing the right things for all of our athletes at all ages.”

Teaching Lessons

Most sports have rewards that go beyond physical, but hockey in particular promotes lessons that last a lifetime.

“The winning and losing, the respect of playing against other people and the competitive element,” Rausch said, when asked about some of the biggest lessons learned from the sport.

But why hockey in particular?

“When you speak with people involved, hockey players are the most grounded and humble pro athletes out there. There is a certain work ethic involved that it takes to be a hockey player,” he said. “One of the biggest reasons is that even though baseball, soccer, football are team sports, they’re dominated by individuals. That’s rare in our sport.”

Lifetime Sport

And finally, if you start your child playing hockey at age 8, they might continue to play it well into their adult years. That kind of lifetime sport is not unique but it is rare.

“When you think of playing sports for life, hockey and golf come to mind,” Rausch said, adding tennis to the mix later. “Those are all ages for the most part. You can keep playing and people do. Once you play hockey people tend to keep playing.”

That means the benefits of signing up for hockey are not just short-term. If your child ends up playing adult hockey – which is where we all end up eventually – that means they’re pursuing a healthy, active lifestyle.

And hopefully they can pass the game on to their kids. 

Mini Mite Update 3/21/2020

Good Morning Mini Mite Parents and Coaches: Brrrrrr...... Looks like I brought back one day of warm weather (Friday) from Florida, but it's back to winter for now. I had a GREAT 10 days all over the state of Florida golfing, boating, beaching and visiting family. I was concerned our flight was going to be cancelled back to Michigan, because it was barely 1/3 full. My son and my brother said my wife and I got out just in time. They both said that golf courses and beaches were going to start shutting down soon and a ton of flights were being cancelled daily. The day we were at Ft. Myers beach it was PACKED with kids on spring break and a ton of families. That is gonna take a huge hit on tourism this time of year down there.


       As of today, the Cube is still shut down and I saw on the Cube website, the employees are doing serious scrubbing, cleaning and painting in anticipation of opening. When, is the big question. I heard from Peggy the other day and we are still hoping for a spring season for both Mini Mites and those moving up to Mites. But the start date is still to be determined. If there is to be a spring season, it will NOT begin before 4/8/2020. AAAHA is ready to re-do the schedule if they get the all clear in April. My suggestion is to keep an eye on the AAAHA website and I can contact all if I get any further information from them as well.


        I am still bummed that our Jamboree and Party were cancelled, but the safety of the kids, parents, coaches and Cube staff are priority one right now. Somehow I will get your child's end of the year award and program to all of you. If we have a spring season, I can pass them out at MM practice and I will make some arrangements with Adam Gacek and Joe Huntzicker to attend a Mite practice. Worse case scenario, when the weather and the current situation changes, I'll set a table up outside the Cube doors, set some hours up and you can run your child up to see me and get their stuff. 


        So that's about it for now. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I'm going a little stir crazy at home with no hockey. But most importantly, stay warm, stay safe and stay healthy.........


Coach Ron

Mini Mite Spring Schedule

Saturday 4/4 Stadium Rink  8 AM
Saturday 4/18 Varsity Rink  9 AM
Saturday 4/25 Stadium Rink 7 AM
Sunday 4/26  Stadium Rink  8 AM
Saturday 5/2  Stadium Rink  8 AM
Saturday 5/9  Stadium Rink  8 AM

Any Questions: Contact Coach Ron

Mini Mite Jamboree 3/21/2020

             Good Morning Mini Mite Parents and Coaches: The end of the Season Mini Mite Jamboree and Post Skate Party is scheduled for Saturday March 21st. I received confirmation from the Ice Scheduler and the Cube Staff who is going to set up the party room for us. So I thought I'd share the details with all of you. Hard to believe our Fall/Winter Season will be over in less than a month. Mark your calendars and PLEASE attend our end of the season Jamboree. We will be all skating together that morning and here is the schedule:
       All three groups Jamboree will be skating on the Stadium Rink from 8 AM until 10 AM. Immediately after the skate is over, we will gather up in the Cube "Glass Fish Bowl" Room upstairs next to the concession stand overlooking the Stadium Rink. The Mini Mite Jamboree is a fun event and a great way to end our hockey season. Have your player invite their siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbors to come out and watch your child in action. Bring your cameras, because there will be plenty of opportunities for just the right picture. If you are uncomfortable shooting through the glass, just come around the rink to the bench side and get the perfect performance photo of your child. We will be taking our annual "Stanley Cup" group picture at the end of the jamboree with all the coaches and skaters. Parents and relatives are welcome to come take our group photo, but PLEASE be careful if you come on the ice and do NOT fall. If you cannot make our jamboree date and be on time, PLEASE contact me as soon as you know, so I do not assign your child to a team or include them in our post skate activities.
      After the skate ends at 10 AM, all players, coaches, parents and friends of the program are welcome to the Cube party room to help celebrate your Child's year in Mini Mites. Each skater will receive our end of the year program. (If they are done on time this year) There will be an awards presentation with all the coaches recognizing each player individually. We ask that the parents please bring something to the party that all can share. In Previous years, our parents have brought in a large range of home made baked specialties, fresh fruits and veggies, snacks, drinks, doughnuts and cookies (Coach Ron LOVES Double Stuff Oreo's) to share with the group. I usually pick up some juice boxes and I'll handle the plates, silverware and napkins. Dave and Kerri Randall have again this year volunteered to pick up a couple awesome Costco Cakes. When you arrive for the Jamboree, just head back to the party room and drop off your goodies you are bringing. The Cube Staff said they will set up a couple tables for our stuff. A couple of our Hockey Moms (Kim Shea and Kerri Randall) have volunteered to take your things and arrange them on the tables. Guys, if you happen to bring your Wife's good bowls or Tupperware, do not forget to leave with them. About 10 years ago, I brought my wife's brand new Tupperware Cake container, left it there and I still hear about it today. Kim and Kerri will be contacting everyone via E mail soon to generate a "sign up sheet" for the party. That will eliminate getting 300 juice boxes, or getting zero Oreo's for Coach Ron! Smile
        It is of utmost importance that you arrive early (20-30 minutes minimum) before we get on the ice at 8 AM. We will be making up "teams" for the jamboree and I do not want to get 5 kids on one team and only 3 on another if you are running late or just decide to skip the whole thing at the last minute. We will have a table set up in the hallway between B and C locker room to pick up your child's special jersey for that day. Some of the kids may still be wearing their Tim Bits jersey, so make sure your bring that jersey too. Either myself, one of the other coaches or a parent volunteer will be at the table to assist you with your child's jersey. Please use Locker B and C only on that day. Jerseys are not to be kept. Bring them back to the table after our Jamboree. After you get your child dressed, toss their hockey bags in the middle of the room. The Coaches are going to talk to the kids before we hit the ice and it gets pretty tight in there.
           I will be there early and all day on the 21st, in case you need to talk to me about spring hockey and beyond.Thanks to all the parents for getting your child to the rink on time, especially on those frigid winter mornings for a 7 AM skate. Your children have made such huge strides in the 6 months I have had them. It has been my pleasure and honor to be their Mini Mite hockey coach. A huge thanks to all the coaches who VOLUNTEER their time to help their child and your child on the ice. I missed a little coaching time this year and their help in my absence was invaluable. Finally a special shout out to Peggy Costello, Theda Joffe and Dave & Kerri Randall for all their assistance this year. Handling 48 players and 21 coaches paperwork was no easy task. Thank you Peggy. Theda Joffe organized the paperwork and dealing with the photographer this year. Great job. Dave and Kerri were my parent liaisons again this year. All of these people's demanding work off the ice, made my job on the ice that much easier. If you have any more questions, issues or comments feel free to contact me at your convenience or track me down at the rink these last few weekends. Again, PLEASE let me know if your child is not going to be there on the 21st to participate in our Jamboree. Hope to see everyone there.....

Coach Ron

This is Evie Tyler. She is the baby sister of one of my current Mini Mites. Just turned three, she came out Saturday afternoon to our Try Hockey For Free Event. She gave me three Coach Ron ism's during her hour on the ice. 1) "I'm gonna bust it, Coach Ron" 2) "I got two hands on my stick and my stick is on the ice" 3) "I'm gonna chase you now!" NEVER too young to teach them to skate and play hockey! She is going to start Mini Mites in the Fall.......

Save the Date!

          Good Monday Morning Parents: Hard to believe that our fall/winter season is winding down. We had great practices last weekend and the kids were just flying around the ice. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up that on Saturday March 21st, we will be celebrating the end of the hockey season with our annual Mini Mite Jamboree and after skate party in the Cube lobby. I'll hammer out the exact times of the skates (still in the morning) and the party starting time as we get closer to the date. 

         We will be playing a ton of cross ice games and celebrate the end of the season with our awards presentation and party after the skates. The Mini Mite Jamboree is a fun time for the whole family. So invite siblings, grandma and grandpas, friends and neighbors to watch your Mini Mite in action. 
       If you know already that you will NOT be able to make the Mini Mite Jamboree, let me know as soon as possible. We are going to be making up even "teams" for the Jamboree and I don't want have 5 kids on one team and only three on another if you decide you are not coming that day or are gonna be out of town. If you have any questions about the jamboree or party, feel free to contact me. Again, I promise more details as I nail them down. Have a great week and hope to see everyone next weekend. Respectfully.......

Coach Ron

Yes, we teach our Mini Mites to fly like a Superhero

Mini Mite Picture Day 11/2/19 (Please arrive early)

   Good Afternoon Mini Mite Parents: Just wanted to give you an early heads up that Mini Mite Picture Day will be Saturday November 2nd, 2019. We have a new photographer this year taking our pictures and he is excited to work with our group. Unlike previous years, the order form is on line only and you can download and print the order form here.  :   He also has a sample page with all of the background and packages you can choose here. .  I am not sure if the photographer will have any hard copies of his forms available on picture day, so make sure you download the order form before you come to the rink on the 2nd.


        This is the only date that Mini Mite Pictures can be taken, so please make arrangements for your child to be there. With over 40 kids in our three groups, it is very important to arrive early for picture day. It is often a very hectic and confusing day and we want to keep the line moving and to make sure your child is in the right group picture. Make sure you get your child dressed in the locker room that day. The last thing we need is parents, players or me tripping over hockey bags in the photo shoot area.


         I will be off ice all morning, so track me down if you have any questions or problems. Make sure you mark "Mini Mites", what group color (red, green or blue) your child is in and "Coach Ron" on the form as well. That will make it easier for the photographer to get everyone's pictures separated and back to us in a timely manner. Please remember to fill out the forms completely. The only lost pictures in previous years were due to incomplete forms. The photographer is a great and patient guy, but please remind your child (as I will) that his cameras, lights and back drops are very expensive and I do not want to replace his equipment.Do not swat at a puck, keep your stick on the floor and don't be shoving and pushing. Here is the skating and picture times for that day:


Blue Group Mini Mites skate at 7 AM, pictures at 8 AM

Red Group Mini Mites skate at 8 AM, pictures at 7:30AM

Green Group Mini Mites Skate at 9 AM, pictures at 8:30 AM


        If your child (Blue group) skates before their pictures, toss a brush in their bag to get rid of hockey helmet hair. Go to the locker room after practice, take off their helmet, grab their stick for the individual picture and find me in the hallway. We will do all individual pictures first, followed by our group photo. (Coaches included). If you have any more questions, feel free to contact me. Enjoy your weekend off from hockey and I will see everyone on the 26th.


Coach Ron

Mini Mite Coaches/Players/Parents Meeting 9/25/19

Good Evening Mini Mite Parents for the 2019/2020 Fall Season:

                We will be having an informative meeting with myself, the other coaches as well as several members of the AAAHA board on Wednesday September 25th starting at 6:30 PM SHARP! The meeting will take place in the "glass fish bowl" room overlooking the Stadium Rink. I will be there early as well if you have any questions. Please arrive early if you can. If you have not turned in all of your child's paperwork electronically, PLEASE bring it with you that night. Someone will be sitting at the tables outside the hockey office to collect all paperwork. We cannot get our Mini Mite Team rostered unless all paperwork from players as well as coaches are turned in and complete. Please do not get angry with me, if I  cannot let your child on the ice for the first skate if he/she does not have completed paperwork turned in. It is a liability issue and a rule from USA Hockey, MAHA and AAAHA! I am the one who will be suspended if I let ANY undocumented players or coaches  on the ice. It is very important (especially for our new MM parents) to attend this meeting. If Mom or dad absolutely cannot make this meeting please contact me so I can go over which session I need your child to skate in for the first/evaluation skates. Again, I attached a copy of our schedule for your convenience. I communicate a lot via E mail, so if mom or dad have an alternate E mail address to the one you are receiving, send it to me and I will add it to the distribution list!
          I am truly hoping that the jerseys and socks will arrive before our meeting night. PLEASE check your child's hockey bag. If you are a returning Mini Mite or Tim Bit from last year, PLEASE ask the person sitting at the table to give you the opposite color jersey that your child had last year. Keep both jerseys in your child's hockey bag in case I get a group that seems to have all the same color jerseys. If returning Mini Mite parents have heard my speech last year, you do not need to come to the meeting. (Even though I'd like to see a familiar face or two) Just make sure you turn in all paperwork, get your socks and jerseys if they are in and you are free to leave. New Mini Mite parents: I promise my meeting will be short and sweet. We'll just go over equipment, rules and regulations for both the players and parents. We'll discuss the Instructional Program we run here in Ann Arbor and I'll leave the end open for any questions you might have. I believe I contacted all the volunteers who want to help coach on the ice this fall with the forms that will be needed to help coach. If not, feel free to contact me.
        Well that about sums it up. For the new parents, I am usually easy to spot. I will have the biggest, booming voice in the rink, usually sporting Michigan State swag in the middle of Wolverine Central. If you can't spot me, just ask one of my returning parents to point me out. Again the paperwork issue is the one thing that bogs down our program and PLEASE remember all of the coaches, off ice assistants and board members are volunteers. If you have any more questions before the meeting on the 25th, feel free to contact me. Hope to see all in a couple weeks.
Yours in youth hockey, Respectfully......
Ron Dragan

Mini Mites Head Coach
Ann Arbor Amateur Hockey Association
(313) 806-8174

Mini Mite Hockey Fall Winter 2019/2020

     Good Morning Mini Mite Parents: Hope everyone is having an enjoyable summer. My golf league is almost over, so that means that hockey season is right around the corner. I am Coach Ron and I will be your child's Hockey Coach for the Fall/Winter session. I received these E mail addresses from AAAHA. I communicate a lot of info with the parents through E mail, If you have another alternate (or one for both mom and dad) E Mail, feel free to send them to me and I will add them to the list. I attached a copy of our hockey schedule for the entire season, beginning with the evaluation skates on 10/5 & 10/6 for your convenience. I will also put a hard copy on the AAAHA bulletin board here shortly as well as one on the Mini Mite Page of the AAAHA web site. (


       I am planning a parents/players/coaches meeting at the Ice Cube in mid to late September. I am hoping & waiting that the jerseys and socks arrive, so we can distribute them at the meeting as well. So as soon as they arrive, I'll nail down the date of the meeting and let all know. Returning Mini Mite Parents: PLEASE get the opposite color jersey your child had last year and keep both of them in their hockey bag. That will help in case there is an uneven amount of players in a respective group. It is very important for the parents of the new players and last year Tim Bits to come to this meeting. You can bring in all completed paperwork if you did not complete it on line. We will introduce you to our coaching staff. We also will go over what our goals for the season and practices will be like and what can be expected from coaches, players and parents. It is relatively pain free. I try to keep it short since we all worked that day and I leave the end of the meeting open for any questions you might have. New parents: Remember your child HAS to be in complete hockey gear including a neck guard. No neck guard means I cannot let your child on the ice. Buy two and keep them in their hockey bags. That is the piece of equipment that gets lost the most. I must have 3 or 4 neck guards in my hockey bag just from last spring. Mouth guards are NOT mandatory at the Mini Mite age, but highly suggested. It saves the teeth, and aids in concussion issues. Mini Mites fall A LOT! Coach Ron is very good at understanding Mouth Guard talk. 


         Finally if any of the new dads (or moms) want to help out on the ice as an assistant coach, please contact me ASAP! There are forms to fill out and videos to watch. I cannot let anyone on the ice (even if it is once) without them having all paperwork turned in BEFORE our first skate. USA Hockey, MAHA and AAAHA are all putting the hammer down this year on undocumented coaches. And I am the one facing suspension if I let anyone on the ice who does not have all paperwork in. Just contact me and I have a cheat sheet on what forms and videos you need to watch. We can NEVER have enough coaches on the ice. Last year we had 57 skaters and 17 coaches. A good coach to player ratio. 


         Well that's it for now. Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day Weekend and we will see you soon enough. If you have any more questions, issues or comments feel free to contact me at your convenience.  Hope to see parents and children around the rink this fall. Yours in youth hockey.........

Ron Dragan

Mini Mites Head Coach

Ann Arbor Amateur Hockey Association

(313) 806-8174 

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