(Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)                                 Little Rustlers need to be able to get up off the ice unassisted as one of the skills they must learn to graduate from white laces to their blue.

(Neil Corbett/THE NEWS) Little Rustlers need to be able to get up off the ice unassisted as one of the skills they must learn to graduate from white laces to their blue.

Minor Hockey introduces Little Rustlers program

Ridge Meadows creates new skills-based approach for new hockey players

Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey has a new way to launch young hockey players into the game, and it has caught the eye of BC Hockey.

The Little Rustlers program replaces Hockey 1 and 2 in the Ridge Meadows association, and is a skills-based approach. It groups these five- and six-year-olds according to their skill level. Virtually the entire skill set when they are starting out is skating.

The new Little Rustlers generally start out with white skate laces, then when their coaches see they have mastered all of the associated skills, they graduate to blue ones.

The coaches gather all of the players on the blue line on a Saturday morning, and hand the graduates their new blue laces, and a puck with a blue Rustlers logo. All the other players give them the traditional hockey applause – tapping their sticks on the ice.

“We want our athletes to feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement,” said Tyler Harron, the director of Hockey 1-4. “When they move up, they have earned it.”

Then they will be working on new skills that will see them get laces and a puck that is black, red, silver and, finally, gold – six levels over two seasons. By the end of their first four years, the goal is that they be accomplished skaters. However, at this point in the new season, nobody has yet got their silver laces.

And there are still games, with a jamboree every seven weeks. The 134 Little Rustlers get grouped into teams, and play games against other kids at their same skill level.

Harron developed the program along with former director of hockey development James Eccles prior to his departure at the end of September.

“It’s all based on the fundamentals that Hockey Canada has been talking about for years now,” said Harron.

The skills for raw beginners are basic. For example, they need to be able to demonstrate a hockey stance, initiate forward momentum, turn without falling, do a basic stop without falling, get up off the ice without assistance, and skate half the rink without falling. Once they master those and a few more necessary skills, they get their blue laces, and a new set of goals.

Dave Lige, executive director of the association, appreciates the way this new approach has the 28 coaches watching skating, and involved in a steady evaluation of where every player is at in their skill development. They are more intentional about developing skills.

Strong skating will be the foundation of everything else they learn.

“I want to see skating teams,” said Lige, adding that this new program already has kids at public skating with their families, working on the skills they need to advance.

The coaches have an online checklist they access with their smart phones or other devices. They can check off skills as players demonstrate they have mastered them, and parents can also follow their child’s progress.

Lige said this is the first year for Little Rustlers, but so far it is working. It is an approach that should follow players through Hockey 3 and 4, as they learn stick and shooting skills, and more advanced skating.


 

@NeilCorbett18
ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey’s executive director Dave Lige and director Tyler Harron say the Little Rustlers program has created a new emphasis on skill development. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey’s executive director Dave Lige and director Tyler Harron say the Little Rustlers program has created a new emphasis on skill development. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

As the hockey players progress, they received coloured laces and a puck to match their new level.

As the hockey players progress, they received coloured laces and a puck to match their new level.

Just Posted

LETTER: Writer questions spread of variant and timing of vaccinations

Will there ever be a return to normal, or will people need to invest in respirators?

A family of geese wandered through the beach area of Whonnock Lake recently. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
VIDEO: Whonnock Lake visitors marvel at cute goslings

Defecating fowl can also bring with them potential issues for Maple Ridge park

Edward Wang shared this picture of an alpaca amid a field of hay in Pitt Meadows, seeking a little shade under the summer-like skies. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Grazing in the field

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

Sandie Bannie is opposed to Pitt Meadows council move to put an RCMP detachment in a park. (Special to The News)
LETTER: Pitt Meadows resident opposed to costly RCMP detachment for small population

Letter writer urges residents to voice opposition before June 28 deadline

Dylan Ross, a Maple Ridge resident for 25 years, is like so many other local residents. He gravitates to the local trails and waterways for a little relaxation. He shared a few pictures along the local dikes near Sharpe Road during a recent kayaking adventure. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Regular relaxation retreat

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Most Read