My my My my
  • North Reading Youth Hockey is sponsored by IM Verizon Wireless
HEADLINES  Subscribe to North Reading Youth Hockey RSS news feed.
Learn to Skate/Intro to Hockey Dec Session
LEARN TO SKATE/Intro to Hockey   Saturdays 9:00 am...
I Hope They Didn't Bring Apple Juice
  A Call To Action For All Those Who Take Youth Hockey...
Positional Versatility: It Begins in Youth Hockey
By Jayson Hron - USA Hockey   Some kids’ earliest...
NRYH Quarterly Newsletter
Return to Play Guidelines after Head Injuries
The following document is from USA Hockey Safety and Protective Committee. Click...
How to make a Hockey Payment or Check my Balance
To make a hockey payment by credit card or to check your balance: 1)...
Learn to Skate/Intro to Hockey Dec Session

LEARN TO SKATE/Intro to Hockey
Saturdays 9:00 am - 10:00 am
December 5, 2015 - January 2, 2016
(except December 26th)
McVann Rink
Peabody, MA 
The NR Youth Hockey is pleased to announce a LEARN TO SKATE program for boys and girls aged 4 and up.  The program is suitable for children with limited exposure to skating.  This new program will be free to all North Reading residents and qualified families from other surrounding communities.  Space will be limited in order to keep the student/instructor ratio effective.
The Intro to Hockey program will be specifically suited for boys and girls that have some skating experience or those that show sufficient skating competency to participate in small area games and activities while wearing hockey equipment. The players will work on (1) basic skating skills, including ready position, forward skating and stopping, and (2) introductory hockey skills such as stick handling, American Development Model and USFA’s Introduction to Hockey series.  Sticks, pucks, balls, ringlets and other tools along with small area games will be utilized to introduce these children to basic concepts of hockey.  5 on 5 traditional games are not appropriate for this age group and will not be utilized.  Children in this program are required to have skates, wooden stick and a helmet.  Hockey equipment such as  HECC approved helmet, shoulder, shin and elbow pads as well as gloves and pants are required. 

For more information, please click here
Click here to Register NOW!
For questions contact NR Learn to Skate and Hockey Clinic Director Dan Collins at 617-877-2490 or

by posted 11/20/2015
I Hope They Didn't Bring Apple Juice


A Call To Action For All Those Who Take Youth Hockey Way Too Seriously


There was about two minutes to play in the playoff game and I was anxiously pacing behind the bench, barking out whatever instructions seemed important at that very moment. You watch the game and you watch the clock in those final seconds, sometimes precisely at the very same time.

We were up by a goal, poised to advance to the next round of the playoffs, when I felt a tug on my jacket.

“Ah coach,” one of my players said on the bench.

“Yea,” I answered, concentrating more on the game and the clock than on him at that instant.

“Are there snacks today?”

“Whaaaat?” I barked exasperated.

“Did anyone bring snacks today?”

“Huh?” I said as I looked away.

“I hope they didn’t bring apple juice,” the young boy said. “I don’t like apple juice.”

The moment froze me in all the playoff excitement, the way all special and meaningful moments should. If somehow, I could have captured that conversation on tape, I would have had one of those special sporting moments for parents everywhere, the kind you need to play for coaches and executives and trainers and managers and all of us who take youth hockey way too seriously.

It isn’t life or death, as we like to think it is. It isn’t do or die as often as we pretend it to be. In one tiny moment in one game, youth hockey was reduced to what it really is about. Apple juice. OK, so it’s not apple juice. But what apple juice happens to represent in all of this. The snack. The routine. The ritual.

Overwhelmingly, kids would rather play a
lot and lose than win while playing a little.

Kids can win and lose and not even give a second’s thought about either, but don’t forget the post-game drinks. If anything will spoil a good time that will.

You see, it’s all part of the culture of hockey. Not who wins, not who scores goals, not which team accomplished what on any given night, but whether Mom and Dad are there, whether their grandparents are in the stands watching, whether their best friend was on their team and they got a shift on the power play, and yes, about what they ate.

When you get involved in hockey, when you truly put your heart into the game and into the environment and into everything, it can be when it’s at its best. The game is only part of the package.

It becomes a social outing for parents. It becomes a social outing for children. It should never be about who is going for extra power skating and who is going straight from Mites to the Ottawa Senators but about building that kind of environment, the kind of memories kids and parents and families will have forever.

Sometimes, when I stand around the arenas I can’t believe the tone of the conversations I hear. The visions are so shortsighted. The conversations are almost always about today and who won and who lost and who scored. Not enough people use the word fun and not enough sell it that way either. Hard as we try to think like kids, we’re not kids.

Hard as we try to remember what we were like when we were young, our vision is clouded by perspective and logic, something not always evident with children.

Ask any parent whether they would rather win or lose, and without a doubt they would say win. But ask most children what they would prefer: playing a regular shift, with power play time and penalty killing time on a losing team rather playing sparingly on a winning team, and the answer has already come out in two different studies. Overwhelmingly, kids would rather play a lot and lose than win while playing a little. They would rather strap on their hockey equipment from HockeyMonkey and start playing than be champions.

Like I said, it is about apple juice. It is, after all, about the experience.

You can’t know what’s in a kid’s mind. I was coaching a team a few years ago when I got a call from the goaltender’s father. It was the day before the championship game. The father told me his son didn’t want to play anymore.

“Anymore after tomorrow?” I asked.

“No,” the father said. “He just doesn’t want to play anymore.”

“Did something happen?” I asked.

“He won’t tell me,” the father said.

I hung up the phone and began to wonder how this happened and who would play goal the next day when I decided to call back.

“Can I talk to him?” I asked the father.

The goalie came on the phone. “I don’t want to play anymore,” he said

“But you know what tomorrow is, don’t you? Are you nervous?”


“Then what? You can tell me.”

“I don’t like it anymore.”

“Don’t like playing goal?”

“They hurt me,” he said.

“Who hurts you?”

“The guys,” he said.

“What guys?”

“Our guys. They jump on me after the game. It hurts me and scares me.”

“Is that it?”


“Do you trust me?”


“What if I told you they won’t jump on you and hurt you anymore. Would you play then?”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.”

“Then I’ll play.”

And that was the end of the goalie crisis.

The kid was scared and wouldn’t tell his parents. The kid loved playing but didn’t love being jumped on after winning games. You can’t anticipate anything like that as a coach. You can’t anticipate what’s in their minds. It’s their game. We have to remember that. It’s not our game.

They don’t think like we do or look at the sport like we do. They don’t have to adjust to us, we have to adjust to them. We have to make certain we’re not spoiling their experience.

Our experience is important too, but the game is for the children and not for the adults. We can say that over and over again, but the message seems to get lost every year.

Lost in too many coaches who lose perspective and who think nothing of blaming and yelling and bullying.


Lost by parents who think their son or daughter is the next this or the next that and they are already spending the millions their little one will be earning by the time they finish hockey in the winter, 3-on-3 in the summer, power skating over winter break, special lessons over March break, pre-tryout camp before the AAA tryouts in May and a couple weeks of hockey school, just to make certain they don’t go rusty.

I have asked many NHL players how they grew up in the game. My favorite answer came from Trevor Linden, who has captained more than one team. He said he played hockey until April and then put his skates away. He played baseball all summer until the last week of August. He went to hockey camp for one week then began his season midway through September with tryouts.

They don’t think like we do or look at the sport like we do. They don’t have to adjust to us, we have to adjust to them. We have to make certain we’re not spoiling their experience.

No summer hockey. No special schools. No skating 12 months a year.

“I didn’t even see my skates for about five months a year,” he said. “I think the kids today are playing way too much hockey, and all you have to do is look at the development to see it really isn’t producing any better players. We have to let the kids be kids.”

When, I asked Gary Roberts, did he think he had a future in hockey.

“When I got a call from an agent before the OHL draft,” he said. “Before that, it was just a game we played.”

Do me a favor: Until the agent comes knocking on your teenager’s door, let’s keep it that way. A game for kids.

And one reminder, I don’t care what the age: Don’t forget the snacks.

by posted 11/09/2015
Positional Versatility: It Begins in Youth Hockey

By Jayson Hron - USA Hockey


Some kids’ earliest skating strides propel dreams of gold medals and professional hockey success. For many, the key to realizing those dreams is positional versatility – the willingness and ability to play any position – the seeds of which are planted in their youth hockey experience.

One such player was Dave Christian. He grew up playing a mix of forward and defense in Warroad, Minnesota, before shifting exclusively to forward at the University of North Dakota in 1977-78. Competing for a forward spot on the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team, he registered 30 points in 59 pre-Olympic exhibition games. He eventually made the team, but not in his expected role. Mere days before the Americans’ Olympic opener against Sweden, head coach Herb Brooks informed Christian that he’d be playing defense, even though he’d be listed as a forward on the lineup sheet.

“In the Olympics, you do what you’re told to do, period,” recalled Christian in a conversation with Mike Morreale from NHL.com.

It turned out well for player and team, as Christian led the Americans with eight assists and Team USA earned its miraculous gold medal. Six days later, Christian played his first of more than 1,000 NHL games, skating as a forward with the Winnipeg Jets.

Canadian hockey hero Wendel Clark can tell a similar story of positional versatility. Five years after Christian’s famed switcheroo, Clark was invited to compete for a place on Canada’s National Junior Team as a forward. Scheduled to leave that morning for the IIHF World Junior Championship in Finland, he was given an ultimatum by the coaching staff. Either he’d play at both forward and defense, or he could stay home. Clark chose the former, splitting his tournament time between the front line and the blue line and earning a gold medal for his efforts. He was eventually selected No. 1 overall in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft, going on to a stellar career as a professional forward.

The reverse switcheroo has also proved to be a winning move. American Tom Preissing came to Green Bay of the USHL in 1997 as relatively nondescript forward before head coach Mark Osiecki moved him to defense. His willingness and ability to try it revolutionized his game, earning him an opportunity at Colorado College, where he earned All-America honors as a defenseman. The San Jose Sharks signed him to a free-agent contract and inserted him immediately into the NHL lineup as a mobile offensive defenseman, a role in which he earned recognition as the team’s top rookie in 2004. It was the launch of a professional career that spanned more than 500 games.

The most well known contemporary American examples might be Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets and two-time U.S. Olympian Gigi Marvin.

Big, strong and versatile, Byfuglien was drafted by Chicago in 2003 as a defenseman, but his skill set made him valuable as a winger, too, so he’s rotated from front to back and back again throughout his NHL career, winning a Stanley Cup in 2010 and earning NHL All-Star Game selections in 2011 and 2012. Meanwhile, he’s given new life to the “rover” term that was common in the game’s early days.

Marvin, who dabbled at defense as a youth player, became an Olympic silver-medalist and two-time Patty Kazmaier Award finalist as a forward, but she embraced a shift to defense before joining the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in 2013. Doing so helped Boston claim its first Clarkson Cup as league champion. It also readied Marvin to patrol the blue line for Team USA in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

“The ability to be versatile is a key component of today’s successful hockey player,” said USA Hockey’s Bob Mancini, an American Development Model regional manager who coached in the NCAA, the OHL and the NHL. “And it starts in youth hockey. Playing multiple positions at a young age does more than just give options to kids and their coaches. By playing and learning multiple positions, players view the game from different areas and understand how to better defeat opponents in the small battles that typically pit one position against another.

“So the benefits can be immediate, and they can also be long-term. Years down the road, those youth hockey days of playing multiple positions can pay big dividends.”

Mancini went on to recall just such a situation.

“Almost every coach can tell a story like this, but years ago, when I was coaching at Ferris State, I had an undersized senior (Bob Nardella) who was destined to spend another year as a third- or fourth-line center. We were undermanned at defense, so I asked him if he would give it a try. Through a great attitude and work ethic, he went on to a 13-year pro career at defense in the U.S. and Europe, playing on an American League championship team and two International League champions. His versatility was a big part of what earned him a career in professional hockey.”

by posted 11/09/2015
NRYH Quarterly Newsletter

posted 10/06/2015
Return to Play Guidelines after Head Injuries

The following document is from USA Hockey Safety and Protective Committee.

Click HERE to read.

Additional information on head injury's may also be found at the following link:

by posted 03/27/2012
How to make a Hockey Payment or Check my Balance

To make a hockey payment by credit card or to check your balance:

1) Click on the "Edit My Account" tab on the left hand column.

2) Log into your account using your email address and password. If you don't know your password leave it blank and it will be emailed back to you.

3) The drop down box's on the payment page can be adjusted to the amount you want to pay. Update the total if you change the amount(s). Make sure the total amount shown is what you want to pay before you submit it.
posted 07/11/2011
Useful Links

Mass Hockey

USA Hockey

Liberty Mutual


Valley Hockey League