Got an hockey fanatic in your family? These programs can teach your kid the game, no matter their level of experience.
Iceland Rink, in Long Island, offers skill development clinics for kids as young as 5. Although their winter program has already started, you can still sign up for their eight-week spring session, which starts in April. Participants ages 5-16 will be grouped by ability and have the opportunity to focus on everything from backward skating to puck handling and shooting. 3345 Hillside Avenue, New Hyde Park, NY, 516-746-1100, icelandlongisland.com.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers offer a wide variety of hockey programs for every skill level. If your child is curious about hockey but has never even been ice skating before, sign them up for the Try Hockey for Free program, which accommodates ages 5-9. If they’re more experienced on the ice, try their Learn to Play program. There’s even a rookie league for players 5-10 who’ve got the basics down. Check their website for specific times and locations. Locations vary, 212-465-6553, nhl.com.
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders also offer a Learn to Play program. Like the Rangers, their program is geared toward first-time players with some experience with ice skating. NHL alumni take charge of the coaching, providing age-appropriate instruction. All equipment is provided, though there is a participation fee to cover coaching expenses. Check their website for specific times and locations. Locations vary, learntoplay.nhl.com.
Through the New York Islanders, Northwell Rink offers a pre-hockey class for those players 4-7 who know the basics but want to develop their skills. Participants will work on basic skating skills required for hockey, like glides, turns, and beginning crossovers. Upon completion, students can advance to higher level classes like Mini Islanders, which starts to introduce skills like stick handling. 200 Merrick Avenue, East Meadow, NY, 616-441-0070, nhl.com.
Aviator Sports and Events Center
In addition to its in-house leagues, the Aviator Sports and Events Center offers the Aviator Atoms program for kids ages 4-15 who want to learn hockey fundamentals including skating, passing, shooting, and stick handling. Registration is open now and the class takes place on Tuesday and Saturday evenings. 3159 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 718-758-7500, aviatorsports.com.
City Ice Pavilion
For those interested in acquiring the basic skating skills necessary for hockey without introducing actual gameplay, the City Ice Pavilion offers four levels of classes that focus on proficiency and agility on the ice while teaching fundamental techniques necessary for game situations.For those interested in game play, they also offer a spring season for youth teams for ages 5-16. 47-32 32nd Place, Long Island City, NY, 718-706-6667, cityicepavilion.com.
World Ice Arena
The World Ice Arena in Flushing offers a series of programs for young kids interested in exploring hockey. They’ll learn the fundamentals (including how to fall safely) in Tot Hockey and Beginner Hockey before advancing to Learn to Play, where coaches teach advanced skating skills and introductory puck handling. Finally, the Future Rangers program focuses more on skills, teamwork, and game strategy. 13135 Avery Avenue, Flushing, NY, 718-760-9001, worldice.com.
Especially experienced players can try out for the New York City Cyclones are the area’s premier youth hockey leagues. This team requires a lot of commitment—practices and games are both twice a week and the team travels—but there’s no better place for kids looking to play hockey at a high level. 61 Chelsea Piers, nyccycloneshockey.org.
Chelsea Sky Rink
The Chelsea Sky Rink offers a range of programs: Clinics for those seeking to refine their skills, a hockey prep class for kids with decent skating skills but no hockey experience, Junior Cyclones for those ready for team play, and a more intense spring league, among others. If your child is interested in playing for the Cyclones but has little experience, these programs are the best choice—they’re set up much like a “farm system.” 61 Chelsea Piers, 212-336-6100 extension 6172, chelseapiers.com.