U9 Mandates



*Please note All Hockey Alberta Non-negotiable Regulations apply.  This document is for the negotiable terms.

  • Maximum of 16 games scheduled by NAI. This includes both the Development Season and Regular Season.
  • Maximum of 3 Jamborees, consisting of 3 games per team. Jamborees are not mandatory. Associations will need to schedule Jamborees and provide blackout dates.
  • It is suggested that practice to game ratio is 2:1 of practices to games.
  • Under the new mandate from Hockey Canada and Hockey Alberta, there is an allowance to group teams into similar skill and ability levels. There will be a Group 1, Group 2, and Group 3 in which Group 1 would be the higher group.
  • Maximum of 18 registered players permitted on the roster per game. Smaller team sizes are recommended. Ideal team size is 9-13 players
  • Minimum amount of players allowed for a game is 7.
  • All games are played 4 on 4 at all times (four players, one goalie)
  • Maximum ice surface for games is 8,500 sq. ft. (100’ x 85’)
  • Full ice or extended ice is not permitted regardless if its a NAI sanctioned game, Jamboree game or an exhibition game.
  • Coaches, parents, and players are allowed on ice if they are doing a function for the minor hockey association. Setting up, moving, and taking down dividers is considered a function of U9 hockey so parents are covered as long as everyone is wearing a helmet, and it is recommended that they wear skates.
  • All Hockey Alberta Non-Negotiables must be followed. NAI will not override Hockey Alberta or Hockey Canada Regulations. Hockey Canada Regulations must be followed.
  • All teams are required to have an HCR, however, U9 division associations will be allowed to register all players of that age division to one team on the HCR as this will allow them to move players around for games, tournaments, jamborees, or to allow better competition between players. Or they may assign them to individual teams. This would be up to each individual Association.
  • HCR is only used for insurance tracking so regardless of how an association registers (individual teams or one large group) player movement is permitted within the Intro to Hockey Model.
  • HCR’s must be uploaded to the NAI website prior to the first scheduled game of the current hockey season.
  • Coach requirements must be adhered to (Pg.16-19 in Intro to Hockey Model).
  • No standings or stats kept.
  • No score is to be kept.
  • No Jamborees or Festivals prior to November 1.
  • All non-NAI scheduled games, tournaments, and exhibition games outside of league play will require a Travel Permit from Hockey Alberta.
  • Ideally, we would like each team to play within their group, but this may not always be possible. Exceptions can be made. With that said, by teams registering all players onto one team in the HCR, it allows flexibility for game play.
  • All U9 Game Reports are required and must be uploaded to the NAI website. With that said, game scores are not to be kept. Instead of a game sheet, teams will be required to use the U9 Game Report. Here is a link to the Game Sheet Report:







2) Game Play Rules


  • Full implementation of Hockey Alberta, Hockey Canada, and NAI Half Ice U9 Program Standards.
  • All U9 Group 2 and Group 3 games must use the blue 4 oz. puck for all games.
  • Group 1 games are permitted to use a black puck for games. Keep in mind there are more development benefits for players of this age using a blue puck than a black puck. Home association choice. Ideally, both coaches discuss game protocol prior to entering the ice.
  • All shifts should be 1.5 minutes with change on the fly marked by the buzzer or whistle. Coaches must agree on the shift length prior to the start of the game.
  • All games are run time and continuous play
  • When a shift change happens, and should your team only have 3 players on the bench to switch with, the fourth player must skate to the bench and touch the boards before they continue to play.
  • Teams will share the respective player benches with each team using the gate closest to the net they are defending.
  • Teams are not required to switch sides between halves. Having said that, they should consider switching ends from a goalie development perspective. One end has a goalie crease and by switching ends halfway both goalies get a half with a crease and half without a crease.
  • There will be only one identified center ice face off spot.
  • There will be only 2 face-offs per game. They will be at the beginning of each half.
  • There will be no off sides.
  • There will be no icing.
  • Minimum of a (1) one hour time slot and a maximum of 1.25 hours for games. Suggested breakout of time - 2 x 24 minute halves, 3 minute warmup, 2 minute rest between halves, 7 minutes to set up and take down half ice dividers. Home team coach has say.
  • Game play is 4 on 4 plus a goalie.
  • Net size is home team choice. Smaller nets (3’x4’) are recommended.
  • No player position specialization.
  • When the puck enters the goal, the official will blow the whistle and signal a goal. The team that was scored on gets possession of the puck and the opposing team must back off 3 metres to allow the player room to start the play. The same applies when a goaltender freezes the puck.
  • All game play decisions must be decided by both visiting team and home team coaches prior to the game.
  • Should the puck be shot of play, the offending team backs away 3 meters and the non offending team gets possesion.












3) U9 Goaltenders


  • Goaltenders are not designated at the U9 Division. Teams may have players that prefer to play this position; however, it would be recommended to rotate this position amongst all those players that are interested.
  • Full goalie gear is mandatory.





  • Minor penalties will result in a missed shift for the offending player, but it will remain 4 on 4 play. This means that should a player receive a penalty, the player will have to sit out their next scheduled shift of play. It is a coach’s role to provide instant feedback to the player so they know what they did wrong and what can be done to prevent the penalty in the future.
  • Should an infraction occur that would normally require a player to be ejected from the game (game misconduct, Match penalty, or a gross misconduct), the offending player will be removed for the remainder of the game. Officials will be required to fill out proper documentation about the incident.
  • Should there be a suspension issued, this will be determined through the Zone Minor Discipline Co-ordinator in consultation with the League and their minor hockey association.
  • Penalties shall be called in accordance with the Hockey Canada Officiating Standard of Play, with the understanding that the officials are within a learning environment.
  • Should there be a penalty, Officials will raise their arm and only blow the whistle when the offending team touches the puck. The official will blow the whistle and make the signal of the penalty. The offending player will miss their next shift for a minor infraction. The non-offending team will get possession of the puck and the offending team will give 3 metres from the puck.
  • One (1) official per half ice game.
  • Official game fee is $20 per game.
  • Officials Report is required for major penalties.
  • Officials must wear the minimum of an officiating jersey with Hockey Alberta crest, black pants and a black CSA approved helmet with a CSA approved half visor.
  • Should there be an on-ice shadow/mentor official on the ice, they are only mandated to wear a black CSA approved helmet with recommendation of a track suit as well.
  • Even when there is a penalty, the game will still be a 4 on 4 game.


  • Please note:
  • Incidental contact may happen, but body checking is not permitted
  • There is no center ice (red line), therefore no icing
  • There are no blue lines in play, therefore there are no off-sides.




5) COACHING STAFF/REQUIREMENTS (Pg.16-19 in Intro to Hockey Module)


  • Coach 1 - Intro to Coach — 1 team official per 10 players
  • Respect in Sport Activity Leader — all team officials
  • Hockey Canada Safety Program — 1 team official per 10 players



6) Grouping of players


  • Group 1 - similar to previous Tier 1/2
  • Group 2 - similar to previous Tier 3/4
  • Group 3 - similar to previous Tier 5/6


  • Ideally, a team size of 9-13 players would be preferred but can be up to a maximum of 18 players per team. Having smaller teams will ensure that smaller associations and larger associations can have more meaningful competition. This will allow for maximum ice time and to have some equality in team sizes so one team doesn’t have 10 players and one has 18. This is beneficial so that if teams wanted to match up players of the same ability, players can verse each other. As well, most of the associations are smaller and may only have 9-13 players on their team.



  • Should you have multiple teams, divide your players into “groups” accordingly to allow competitive play against other teams.


  • Registering players as a program on the HCR enables associations to move players around as needed to ensure meaningful practice and competition during games.


  • Ultimately it is up to each individual association to decide if they want to register players as a team or as a program.


  • When grouping players, the social, emotional, mental, and psychological development of the participants should be considered rather than just the physical abilities.


  • U9 will not have defined teams such as U9 Major, Minor, or Combination, but rather group the teams into 3 groups, similar to how it has been in previous seasons. Teams do not have to separate by age groupings, but can still be two year age gaps if that is desired by the association.


            **Grouping should not finalized till November 1.


It will ultimately be up to each association to build their teams fairly and accordingly.




7) Season Timelines


  • September 15 - Development Season starts (or when your ice is in)
  • October 1 - October 31 - (Maximum 4 grouping games played)
  • October 31 - Development Season ends
  • November 10 - Regular season schedule is released (Maximum 12 games)
  • November 15 - Regular season starts
  •                      - U9 can start playing Jamborees
  • December 23 to January 3 - there will be no scheduled games
  • March 15 - U9 season ends


***Blackout dates are required a minimum of 10 days prior to release date of regular season schedule. Late submissions will not be honoured.


    All ice submissions must be submitted prior to the NAI Fall Registration meeting.


8) Ice Requirements

  • Available ice slots are due at the latest midnight of fall registration meeting.
  • Must be e-mailed on an Excel spreadsheet
  • Teams that submit available ice slots late could be fined $400 and possibly disqualified from the current hockey season.
  • Due to limited ice availability, scheduling may require some TBA games that will require associations to schedule these games on their own. These will be limited as much as possible.
  • Each team must submit minimum 16 (12 + 4) available ice slots for scheduling. These ice slots must meet the time requirements of acceptable travel times.
  • Should an ice time not be suitable for the visiting team due to travel,both managers need to work out a better time for the game to be played and submit a game change request.


9) Travel

  • NAI will make best efforts to ensure that all games are within 125 kms. one way. Due to the size of the league and its wide spread, this will not always be possible. NAI will make best efforts to try to accommodate this.
  • Should there be a requirement to schedule a game on a weekday, the game will be scheduled to allow the visiting team to return to their home arena by 8 PM.
  • Weekend games should not start after 8 PM or begin earlier than 8 AM
  • Should teams need to re-schedule games, both managers must agree to a date and time. This will be out of NAI’s hands but must be re-scheduled within 48 hours.










10) Affiliation

  • U9 players are eligible to affiliate into U11. Affiliation must follow HA and NAI requirements. U9 player must be on the U11 HCR as an affiliate.
  • U9 players are allowed to move from team to team within U9 without being classified as an affiliate if registered on an HCR.
  • U7 players are eligible to affiliate into U9 if needed, without being classified as an affiliate if registered on the HCR.
  • Can only affiliate enough players to bring your game roster up to a maximum of 13 skaters
  • Some associations put both Initition and U9 on the same roster to allow movement of players as the team sees fit.



11) Practices (Hockey Alberta Recommendation)


All Associations are strongly encouraged to ensure that they are implementing the Intro  to Hockey Model with a development focus as opposed to a competition focus.


  • Based on Hockey Canada’s player development model it is recommended that coaches utilize the following percentages of time when delivering practices.


  • 75% Technical Skills
  • 15% Individual Tactics
  • 10% Team Tactics


  1. Technical Skill - Fundamental skills that are required to play the game - skating, shooting, and passing.


  1.   B)  Individual Tactic - Action by one player using one or a combination of technical skills to create an advantage or take away the advantage of an opponent (1 on 1)


  1. C) Team Tactic - Collective action of two or more players using technical skills and/or individual tactics to create an advantage or take away the advantage of an opponent (3 on 2)


Practice Environment:

  • Energizing Drill - Engage players through a fun game or unstructured drill
  • 3-5 Station Drill - Focus on technical skill development by utilizing circuits and continuous drills.
  • Finisher Drill - Fun small area game, relay race, or high energy activity to finish.


Hockey Alberta has identified priorities to help simplify what is being worked on and in what format. By focusing on the five areas under each format it will ensure that players are receiving an age appropriate start to reaching their full potential as a player.

 When splitting up players for station work in practices, separate them based on skill so that all players can be challenged by enabling coaches to progress and regress drills as needed based on the skill set of each station group                                                                                    



Small Area Games

Cross Ice/Half Ice

Fun and Enjoyment

Fun and Enjoyment

Fun and Enjoyment

Skill acquisition                     

Puck protection

Application of skill

Error Detection/ Correction   


Play in traffic

Maximize Activity



Build Confidence

Decision making skills




The goal of Intro to Hockey is a development focused model. The aim is to have a 2 to 1 practice to game ratio.


12) Playoffs


  • There are no playoffs for U9. Teams will play their normal allotment of games and up to 3 Jamborees.


13) Blackout Dates


  • Please provide any blackout dates that will apply in the upcoming season.
  • Please provide blackout dates for Jamborees
  • All blackout days must be submitted to NAI at least 10 days prior to the scheduled release date of regular season schedule. Any blackouts submitted late will not be honored and must be dealt with by the association.


14) Governors


  • NAI may assign a U9 Governor to help support the associations. If there are Governors assigned, all associations will be notified.






15) Game Cancellations  


  • Per the NAI Regulations, games cannot be cancelled. Should you need to delay a game or postpone a game due to lack of players or weather, you must re-schedule your game within 48 hours. Please ensure that you submit a game change request form.
  • Should a visiting team need to re-schedule a game, they will be required to pay the home association one half (½) of the cost of ice rental and referees for the missed game.










The goal is to ensure that all players are grouped with like, skilled players. Grouping of players of like ability can be a very important principle for setting up young players for success and enjoyment. The focus of the Intro to Hockey model is player development. It is important in both station-based practices and in half-ice game play that players be grouped by similar ability levels when possible or necessary. This will support the skill level of the players on the ice which will allow more puck touches and fun for all the players participating.


There will only be three groups:

  1. Group 1 - equivalent to Tier 1/2
  2. Group 2 - equivalent to Tier 3/4
  3. Group 3 - equivalent to Tier 5/6


            *** Ideally teams should consist of 9-13 players but may be as many as 18 players.

            *** Grouping of players should not finalized until November 1.


17) Seasonal Structure Phases


  1. Evaluation Phase


  1. No evaluation skates prior to or during the first week of school.
  2. Must provide a minimum of 4 skates before evaluations begin.
  3. Must provide a minimum of 3 evaluation skates before grouping of players.


  1. Development Phase


During the development phase, coaches should be focused on skill development. Coaches should focus on developing fundamental movement skills like striding, turning, and stopping. There should be a focus on manipulation skills like shooting, passing, and puck control. Also, the very important motor skills of agility, balance and coordination.


  1. Regular Season Phase


The regular season phase represents the bulk of the seasonal structure. It is important that coaches continue to focus on skill development during practice sessions. Hockey Canada has developed resources to support coaches in their efforts to deliver practice plans. The Hockey Canada Network and the Drill Hub can be found at www.hockeyalberta.ca.









18) Development Season


  • No team will play more than 4 games in the Development season to assess grouping of team  (September 15 - October 31)
  • No Jamborees will be allowed to be played in the Development Season
  • Maximum 6 week season
  • Approximately 12 practices


19) Regular Season

  • Approximately 15 week season
  • Aim to achieve a 2:1 ratio of practices to games
  • Maximum 3 Jamborees (maximum 3 games per Jamboree)
  • Approximately 12 regular season games



20) Exhibition Play


Teams are allowed to schedule their own games if they so choose. The games may be scheduled with teams that are out outside NAI. Should you choose to schedule exhibition games, please ensure the following is done:


            - Travel permit requested from Hockey Alberta

            - A sanction number is reqsted from Hockey Alberta


Please remember that NAI Scheduled games take priority over Exhibition games.








 Associations not adhering to the Game Play Rules will be in violation of either Hockey Canada Policy, Hockey Alberta Policy, or NAI Policy and will be subject to disciplinary action.



  • A minimum of 2 associations from each group need to host the Year End Jamborees due to geographical area of the league.
  • Year End Jamborees are not mandatory, but rather an option for the conclusion of the hockey season
  • Jamborees are optional, and over and above the regular season. Sufficient interest in participating must be shown by the area teams in order for the process to begin
  • The NAI will help with the host application
  • The operations and running of the Jamboree will be 100% the responsibility of the host association
  • The NAI will post when, where, and any other applicable information about the Jamborees on the NAI website once the host site is selected


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