U8, Galt Minor Hockey School (Cambridge Minor Hockey)


Hockey being a team sport, good player attendance each week is critical to help make our programs successful.

GMHS U8 Division Format (Introduction to House League)
   • The U8 division will consist of four rostered teams, registered with the Cambridge Minor Hockey Association.
   • Each team will consist of, up to sixteen players and two goalies dressed in full equipment.
   • Positional rotation:
         o All players play all positions – forward/defence/goaltender.
         o All players get a chance to start the game or start the second half if numbers allow.
   • Goaltender rotation:
         o No full-time goaltenders.
         o All players get a chance to play goal.

Fair and Equal Ice Time
All players should have the same opportunity to contribute, regardless of skill or ability. A coach’s responsibility is to develop all players. Shortening of the bench in an attempt to win games is not permitted. All players and goaltenders should receive fair and as close to equal as possible ice time.

GHMS Coach and Trainer Development Program
   • Each team must have a Coach, Assistant Coach and Trainer with the required certifications below.
         o Coach and Assistant Coach certification requirements
                Coach 1-Intro to Coach– HU – In Class and Online Course
                Planning a Safe Return to Hockey Course (free – HU – Online)
                Respect In Sport Certification (this is an on-line course)
                Gender Identity and Expression Course (eHockey – Online)
                Vulnerable Sector Check - WRPS
         o Trainer certification requirements
                Hockey Trainer Certification Program - Level 1 (HDCO – online course. Expires every 3 years)
                Planning a Safe Return to Hockey Course (free – HU – Online)
                Respect In Sport Certification (this is an on-line course)
                Gender Identity and Expression Course (eHockey – Online)
                Vulnerable Sector Check - WRPS
Please Note:
   • Respect in Sport, Gender Identity and Planning a Safe Return are required courses for any Volunteer who will be part of a Coaching Staff.
   • Every team must have a certified Trainer. The certification expires every 3 years and there is a shorter re-certification course available as well.
***Reimbursement for any Clinic will only happen with previous approval from CMHA***

GMHS – U8 Division Convenor Role
   • The duties of U8 division convenor are as follows:
         o Responsible to ensure all members of coaching staff have provided their required certifications.
         o Submits all game sheets (weekly) to the Cambridge Minor Hockey Office.
         o Works closely with the GMHS Director and helps with team goalie equipment distribution.
         o Will take player attendance and stress the importance of player team commitment.
         o Addresses any parent / player concerns.
         o Send out emails and other communications regarding schedule changes and special program events to coaching staff and parents as needed.

GMHS – U8 Classroom Pre-Game Lessons on Saturday’s
   • The first classroom in the season is a Parent Information Session presented by the GMHS Director.
   • One of the GMHS Lead Instructors will teach a variety of hockey topics about skills and game rules weekly.
   • Lessons are presented in the form of Video Clips and equipment demonstration with player interaction.
   • Players are asked questions and the end of the lesson and volunteer they answers.
   • Every player is expected to be in our classroom sessions 1/2 hour before their scheduled Saturday ice time.
   • This classroom is part of the program and helps us in teaching and in turn saves valuable ice time.
   • Classroom lessons take 15 minutes then players are sent to the dressing rooms to finish getting ready.
   • Parents are welcome to sit in.
   • Classes start on the second Saturday of the season and end on the first Saturday in March.

Set-up, game play and rules for U8 hockey 
Playing Surface – Half-ice
   • The maximum size of the ice surface is 100 feet by 85 feet.
   • U8 is a single-year age division:
         o Seven-year-old games will be played on half-ice all year.
                Use October as a development month – no games, just practices.
                games will be played half-ice from November through February and may transition to full ice the end of February into March to prepare for the GMHS “B.E.S.T. Games” event.
                Incorporate paid official referees starting the first schedule half-ice game after January 1st.
                This program is development, helping transition kids to U9.

Saturday Half-Ice Game Set-up
The game play format used in U8 half-ice hockey is the Two-Team Game Play Model. This model is built on two teams playing one another in two halves. Each U8 team is divided into two units. Each team is required to dress two goaltenders, one for each half-ice game.

Game Set-up and Flow (Two-Team, Two-Game Model)

   • Each team will be divided into two units of players, each with a goaltender. Smaller numbers allow for players to double-shift to ensure there are always four players on the ice. Coaches must make sure all players take turns double-shifting.
   • Each team has two goaltenders, one for each half of the ice. This allows for two larger teams playing each other in two halves. If the two teams are balanced, one team’s unit can switch at half time to play against the other opposing unit.
   • It is recommended that in each half, the centre-ice spot should be marked to indicate where the face-off will take place. This is to be established at the midpoint between both nets.
   • Teams will share the player benches, with each team using the gate closest to their net.
   • The score clock can be used to keep time for both games simultaneously.
   • The home team shall defend the two ends of the rink, while the visiting team shall defend the centre-ice nets. After the first half, the visiting team switches ends and switches benches so players can play against the other half of the opposing team.
   • No score is kept, and game sheets are optional.

Half-ice Game Play Rules
   • Hockey Canada Playing Rules are followed except as stated below.
   • 4-on-4 (plus a goaltender in full goalie equipment)
   • Game format: two periods with a run-time clock, not to exceed 60 minutes total.
   • Minimum of one official per game.
   • Timed buzzer or whistle for line changes:
         o Game does not stop; players change on the fly at buzzer/whistle.
                If there are fewer than four players on the bench, the active player designated to stay out for the following shift must return to the bench area prior to continuing play.
                On the buzzer/whistle, players must relinquish control of the puck immediately and vacate the ice. The new players enter the ice. Failure to relinquish control of the puck or new players entering the ice surface prematurely may result in a penalty (see below).
         o Shift length will not exceed two minutes.
         o Incidental contact may happen, but body-checking is not permitted.
         o No icing or offside.
         o Face-offs to start each half.
         o Change of possession:
                Continuous play – when whistles lead to a change in puck possession, the official will signal the attacking players to back off three metres. Once the attackers have moved back, play may resume as soon as the possession team has control of the puck.
                Goaltender freezes the puck – the official blows the whistle to indicate the attacking team backs off three metres and the defending team gets possession.
                Puck shot out of play – the offending team backs off three metres and the official gives the non-offending team a new puck.
         o Blue puck (4 oz) or black puck (6 oz). (BOTH ARE ACCEPTABLE)
         o Net size – 2x3, 3x4, 4x6. (ALL ARE ACCEPTABLE)
         o Penalties:
                Minor penalties are noted, with the official briefly raising their arm to indicate a penalty will be assessed. At the conclusion of the shift, the official notifies the team of the infraction and the number of the offending player.
                If the offending team controls the puck, the official blows the whistle and calls for a change of possession; the non-offending team is given a three-metre cushion.
                The offending player will sit out the next shift, but the team will play even strength.
                Should an infraction occur that would normally require a player to be ejected from the game (game misconduct, match penalty, gross misconduct), the player will be removed for the remainder of that game. Even under these circumstances, teams will not play shorthanded and no game incident report will be required.

Practice Set-up for U8 hockey – Two Team Half-Ice
   • Enjoyable introduction and experience at all player’s skill levels.
   • Provide a healthy environment for fun and learning.
   • Teach the basic fundamental skills.
   • Stress participation, fun, and skill development.
   • Development of communication at the players’ level of learning.
   • Introduction to fun skill-based games and player achievement program.

The U8 Coaching staff and registered on-ice helpers will work with the GMHS Lead Instructors to develop weekly practice plans using different hockey aids and tools to create multiple skill development stations such as skating agility, puck control, passing and shooting accuracy, that the player rotate through during the scheduled ice time. Goalie training and development is also an important part of each practice plan.

Weekly coaches meeting before the scheduled ice-time to review the practice plan in the GMHS classroom.

GMHS holds an annual U8 “skills and drills” mid-season event to keep the program fun for the players!

U8 hockey players need to progress through these practices to ensure they are exposed to age-appropriate drills and activities that will develop their confidence. The goal is to support the development of a sound skill base so young players will experience success playing the game. Use complete plans or choose your favourite drills to build a practice for your U8 team.

Start by downloading an official Hockey Canada practice plan for free.


Galt Minor Hockey School holds two (2) Power Skating Clinics during the winter season.  They are held on Wednesday nights with the first session starting WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19th to DECEMBER, 21st, 2022 and the second session beginning on WEDNESDAY, JANUARY  4th to MARCH 8th, 2023.  The cost is $100 per ten (10) week session.  This program fills up rapidly and is on a first come first serve basis (all skaters are required to be in full approved equipment).

NOTE: This program is geared for 5-8 year olds.  All participants must be registered with CMHA for the current season in order to participate in this program.

If interested, registration is Sept. 24th in the back classroom at Dickson Arena during Sweater Pickup Day.