MAHA adopted a mandatory Cross-Ice Program for all affiliate association in-house U8 teams beginning in the 2005-2006 season. The program is designed for in-house Mite and Termite programs, not travel or select Mite teams (MAHA no longer provides U8 Mite leagues nor promotes Mite or Termite travel).
As USA Hockey and MAHA stress that it is critical that players of similar ability play together for proper player development, there are separate cross-ice program recommendations for Mite A, Mite B and Termite teams. The recommendations are as follows:
The program is based on the model of practicing and playing hockey across the ice surface as compared to practicing and playing lengthwise along the full length of the ice. This system has been used in some of the leading hockey nations for several years. Some studies have shown that children who begin their hockey training in this environment can have an outstanding hockey experience and may progress faster than those who begin in the full-ice system.
Some parents may ask, "Why should my child play cross-ice, what will this bring? I want my child to play full-ice like the professionals do because I want my child to experience 'real' hockey." To help address these questions, think about a child trying to skate with a puck while performing a drill from one end of the rink to the other. How long will this take? How much energy will this require? Will the player's decision-making skills be enhanced more in the close action of the smaller cross-ice surface or in the wide-open area of the full-ice surface? In which situation will the child be more involved in the action?
A study of hockey games played on the full-ice surface by George Kingston in 1976 found the following:
The study concluded that:
USA Hockey and MAHA believe that by giving children the opportunity to participate in the cross-ice hockey program that their enjoyment of hockey as well as their hockey skills can be enhanced and offers the following advantages: