Dear North Toronto Hockey families,
As the summer winds down, we all start looking forward towards the new beginnings that Fall brings – the return to school, new routines and, of course, hockey! Whether you’re returning to North Toronto or are joining us for the first time, I want to welcome you to our community’s home for hockey – the North Toronto Hockey Association.
For over 50 years, the NTHA has provided many thousands of players with what we consider to be one of the best and most complete minor hockey development programs in the country. We have well over 1,000 players registered in our programs including: Learn to Play, House League, 20 CDS and Select teams and 16 GTHL “A” and “AA” teams. Our mission is to provide every one of those players with a safe, fun environment to learn, play and compete in ice hockey using best practices and strategic partnerships to promote a life-long love of hockey and participation in sport.
This is an exciting time for our hockey club as we continue to implement the new Hockey Canada Initiation Program guidelines into our House League and competitive programs for our 6-8 year-old players. While the most visible aspect of these changes involves the use of cross-ice and half-ice configurations, it’s the non-visible benefits to players that really merit attention. Modified-ice practices and game play dramatically increase player participation in hockey on all measures such as skating (acceleration, balance, turning, stopping), puck handling (carrying, passing, shooting), and hockey I.Q (reading, reacting, creativity and contact). And it’s just more fun with more ice time, more goals, and fewer stoppages in play.
Another first for this season is the new Competitive Development Stream program. Developed and run in partnership with three of our neighbouring hockey clubs (Leaside, Forest Hill and North York Knights), we are offering competitive-minded 6 and 7 year-old players with all the benefits of Initiation Programming as just outlined with the benefits of playing exclusively on rinks within our central Toronto communities.
We also continue to invest time in important safety initiatives such as our Concussion Management program and this upcoming season will also mark an expansion of our in-house Coach Development and Mentoring program.
Absolutely none of this programming would be possible without the dedication and commitment of our community volunteers. Whether on the Board, the bench or behind-the-scenes, please take a moment to thank your coach or manager or convenor for the amazing work they do. And I hope you continue to enjoy the pleasures of Toronto’s very best home rink, the North Toronto Arena, managed by Eric Anweiler and his capable staff.
Many of you will know that one of our most famous alumni – Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals – also came home for hockey earlier this summer when he brought the Stanley Cup to North Toronto Arena to celebrate his victory with us. The attendance from NT families was impressive as was the generosity for Tom’s charity, the Sick Kids Foundation. Winning a Stanley Cup is the dream that drives almost every single young hockey player so seeing it in our own house glittering at centre ice was an irreplaceable experience! But even more than that, we can all be inspired by Tom as a great example of a fine young man committed to his hockey roots and to our community.
I hope this hockey season brings you and your family lots of fun, some excitement and new connections to the people in your hockey club. Game on!
President, North Toronto Hockey Association