Do’s and Don’ts of Spring Travel Hockey

Posted on June 1, 2023

Over the years, so many parents and players have asked me this question…

What should I do for Spring Travel Hockey? 

Here’s a list of things to do…. and not to do… when it comes to Spring Travel Hockey!

DO – Experience a “hockey trip”. You don’t have to be a superstar player to achieve this, either; so many programs are taking teams to tournaments that are “D2 or D3”, which usually equates to Single-A or B All-Star in Newfoundland and Labrador. Until you get to the “showcase ages”, scouts aren’t attending any U11 tournaments so who cares about the results, the competition level, or the strength of team; go for the experience of a hockey trip. E-mail your local private hockey owners with your son or daughters birth year and skill level – ask if there are any trips available for a player fitting this criteria.

DON’T – Do so many trips that you’re gone every weekend of the “off-season”. May and June should be quiet ice hockey months; if you’re travelling every weekend and practicing during the week to stay in shape for the travel weekend, you’re not going to have an off-season. Your body needs time to grow, and time to recover from a busy year. 

DO – Explore a Different Venue. If you’re trying to decide which tournament to go to, consider going to a place where you’ve never been before (or might not go in the future). If you’re from Newfoundland and Labrador, you’re most likely going to go to Moncton/Halifax/PEI more than once. This might be an opportunity to see Boston, Vegas, Vancouver, Nashville, Miami… the list goes on! That being said, always have a budget and stick to it. 

DON’T – Go with the same group of people over and over! One of the best parts about hockey is the people you meet along the way, and the networks that you create. Going with the same group of people over and over keeps you in a comfort zone! If you ever plan on moving away to play hockey, you will want the experience of playing with different people. I learned this at a young age at the golf course I was a member at; my parents would set me up to play with random adults when I was 13-14 years old. At the time, it seemed silly but when I turned 17 and moved away to play hockey, I was much more comfortable mingling with new people because I had practiced it. 

DO – Go up a day early, or stay an extra day. If your tournament starts on a Friday and wraps up on a Sunday, fly up on Wednesday OR fly home Monday evening. See the sights and sounds of the town without being on a strict itinerary or games schedule! There is so little time to explore when your games schedule is 2 x games Friday and Saturday, then playoffs on Sunday morning/early afternoon. If you fly home Sunday night, all you will see is the airport, the hotel bed, and the rink. If your tournament is on the outskirts of Toronto or Boston and you’re staying close to the rink(s), you likely need the best part of the day to get downtown, find parking, shop, go to a ball game, and get back uptown while battling rush-hour traffic. Trying to sandwich that between a morning and evening game is actually more stressful than it is enjoyable. 

DON’T – Forget about the long game. Parents often get caught up in wanting to travel with certain ‘top teams’ and spend absurd amounts of money to do so. If your son or daughter is a strong player, save your money on the 4th travel trip in 4 weekends and put it into an investment account that you cannot touch until your child gets to be Prep School/U18AAA age. You’ll thank me when schools come calling and you saved $10-20-30K on travel trips in U7-U9-U11-U13. This may not apply to highly-affluent individuals, but to most, that MasterCard could use an off-season too! 

To conclude – Spring Travel Hockey is an absolute blast for players, coaches, parents and families. Be a savvy Spring traveller and you’ll be that much better off in the short and long term

– Coach AP