Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hello. Hoping I can get some guidance and opinions here. I tried to do a forumn search but didnt really get what I was looking for. As someone new to youth hockey I have no idea how to navigate the “career path”. Every other sport seems exceptionally easy to understand and is pretty linear but this is a confusing tangle or organizations and tiers and I hope I can get some insight so I’m making a good decision. 
 

right now my kid is 6 has been doing some skating lessons since age 3 and did learn to play. I didnt know where to go from there but a coworker told me their kid was doing mites. The 3 rinks closest to us are bairel, RMU, and lemieux. We’ve done skating lessons at lemieux so should I just sign up there or is there a difference? Lemieux has different levels black gold etc. which I guess are tiers for mite. I see baierl has a house league ADM but then there is wildcats adm which is longer than Lemieux’s season but has some tournament and “jamborees”. RMU I think has their colonials adm. I just want my kid to have fun, make some friends, get exercise, and learn the skills to move to the next level if they enjoy it and want to keep playing, which seems even more complicated to figure out with different tiers and clubs. Can anyone help me understand the differences and have opinions on where she’ll get good but fun instruction?

thanks 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey there,

You might get a million opinions but I think North Pittsburgh out of Baerl always has a very strong program.  If your child hasn't had actual hockey (as opposed to skating) practices I would start with their house league and it will become a natural progression to "travel" hockey.  I would avoid Lemieux as their house program is not very strong or team building oriented (at least from my and others experiences).  They have very strong older (U16 and birthyear) teams that you don't need to worry about for a few years, if ever. RMU can also be a good option.  

I'm not sure what is going on this year with the Covid stuff, but usually in the Spring there is a program called "Little Penguins Learn to Play" that takes place at rinks all over the Pittsburgh region. It's very cheap and you get 10 practices and free head to toe equipment. That might be a good option to get you started this year then look for a "home" next fall. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I also vouch for Bairel' s program. That program does not play a regular season of teams from other programs, just some games with RMU and jamborees. In my opinion, that is better at this age, and if you know anything about hockey you understand it is not at all important to play games like that until at least squirts. There are countries and programming that hold you off longer. Don't be in a rush to get on any hamster wheel for elite programming, make sure he is having fun and developing the basics.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

The mite in-house program at RMU is the largest in the area and Blaine and Bob do a fantastic job running it. They offer four teams at each level from Tier 6 to Tier 1 (which are the travel Red and White teams). My son started at 5 years old there and progressed from tier 6 to 3 to 1 (red), then finally his last year of mites was with the Lil 66ers at UPMC. I regret leaving for UPMC during his final year of mites as I preferred the practices and power skating at RMU much more, and we obviously weren’t with the “in crowd” at UPMC. My son ended up missing playing with his buddies at RMU.  My only complaint about the in-house program at RMU is that there isn’t practices during the week at the tier 6-tier 2 levels, so you end up practicing on Saturdays and playing games on Sundays. We ended up filling in the weekday gaps with lessons and public skating. If you have any questions please feel free to ask here or DM me. 
 

I grew up playing for NP at Baierl and enjoyed it very much. I don’t believe any of the people

involved when I played there are still involved, so I can’t speak for program now, but they are always competitive at the older levels. I know my sons AA squirt team always struggled against theirs.

UPMC offers a good in house program and the lil 66ers Red level teams. I just wasn’t a big fan of the BS and koolaid drinking that goes on there. Too many parents worried about the extra “A”. Different strokes for different folks. You have to understand that an extremely small percentage of players make it past the youth level, yet pretty much everyone of those mite parents think their lil 66er is going to be drafted first overall. Some

of the conversations we overheard were nauseating. 

Its a very long journey and many others on this site have had experience with youth hockey for longer than I have been alive, so I’m sure you will get a lot of interesting responses and help. My biggest advice to you is go somewhere that you feel comfortable with and your daughter has fun with. If that means going where some of her classmates play, then maybe go that route for now. Hope this helps!

Edited by forbin
Spelling
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

My kids have gone through all 3 places at one time or another. 

RMU is a great place to START but once your kid gets good you need to RUN because they will try and keep you there for as long as they can. 

Bairel is also great for Mites, while not as many teams/kids as RMU they do always have a good program in Mites. 

Lemieux is definitely the least favorite out of the 3. The 1 season my kid did Mites there they had 5 different head coaches and none of them knew the kids names. They would be on their phones or talking with the appointed refs along the boards during games while the kids did whatever they wanted. They didn't know when the puck went in the net or flew out of the rink half the time so the kids would just skate around until the buzzer went off or they actually noticed. 

If you have the money to blow or know someone up there then the sky is the limit for your kid no matter how good they are. 

 

If you are looking for good quality development and coaching then RMU or Bairel are your best choices. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the replies so far. 

7 hours ago, Pucks11 said:

Lemieux is definitely the least favorite out of the 3. The 1 season my kid did Mites there they had 5 different head coaches and none of them knew the kids names. They would be on their phones or talking with the appointed refs along the boards during games while the kids did whatever they wanted. They didn't know when the puck went in the net or flew out of the rink half the time so the kids would just skate around until the buzzer went off or they actually noticed. 

That is my concern with continuing at Lemieux.  With a couple seasons experience in the skating program it seems to have changed for the negative after the lady who ran it previously had a split with them. Having seen some mite games there while waiting in the rink it seemed like coaches weren't engaged during games but that isn't fair to judge them on my minimal observation.  I would like to find a program where kids are coached and not left to run a drill after 1 demonstration and they either figure it out or they don't with no additional guidance. I would like to see corrections and direction given, practicing something the wrong way doesn't seem beneficial to me in any way and probably forms bad habits. Maybe that's asking for too much but it sounds like RMU or Bairel would be closer to that.

 

It seems like Bairel and Rmu run one season, a fall through winter, while lemieux is 2 seperate seasons with fall through december then winter starting in Jan. If its too late to get her into one of the other programs is it worth doing Lemieux winter session then jump into another program later or should we just stick with skating for now?

Edited by EJBJ
Additional Question
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, EJBJ said:

It seems like Bairel and Rmu run one season, a fall through winter, while lemieux is 2 seperate seasons with fall through december then winter starting in Jan. If its too late to get her into one of the other programs is it worth doing Lemieux winter session then jump into another program later or should we just stick with skating for now?

RMU will add kids to their lower in-house levels around this time of year. Usually, those kids are graduates from the fall session of their learn to play hockey program, but I have also seen some outside kids be evaluated by one of the directors and allowed to join at a discounted price. That being said, with roster restrictions this year because of covid, I am not sure they will be doing that.

Would your child be in the intermediate or advanced level at UPMC? If not, I would look at the winter session of learn to play hockey at RMU. It starts in January. I would suggest using the rest of this season to develop skills, then play a summer league (all three rinks you mentioned offer one), and then start fresh with whichever program you choose for the fall season. Hopefully this global state is a bit better by then and a more "normal" season commences.

If you plan on joining a PAHL mite travel team, be advised that the majority of them do their placements in early spring. Based on your location, I am assuming you live in the Cranberry/Mars/Wexford area? There is also the Pittsburgh Yetis at Frozen Pond down route 8. I have no experience with them other than my coworkers son is currently playing on their red team and that team is doing very well. He says good things about their mite director, Levi. 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, EJBJ said:

Thanks for all the replies so far. 

That is my concern with continuing at Lemieux.  With a couple seasons experience in the skating program it seems to have changed for the negative after the lady who ran it previously had a split with them. Having seen some mite games there while waiting in the rink it seemed like coaches weren't engaged during games but that isn't fair to judge them on my minimal observation.  I would like to find a program where kids are coached and not left to run a drill after 1 demonstration and they either figure it out or they don't with no additional guidance. I would like to see corrections and direction given, practicing something the wrong way doesn't seem beneficial to me in any way and probably forms bad habits. Maybe that's asking for too much but it sounds like RMU or Bairel would be closer to that.

 

It seems like Bairel and Rmu run one season, a fall through winter, while lemieux is 2 seperate seasons with fall through december then winter starting in Jan. If its too late to get her into one of the other programs is it worth doing Lemieux winter session then jump into another program later or should we just stick with skating for now?

RMU and Bairel are definitely closer and cheaper for what you are asking for. 

If you want to get your kid going then go ahead with Lemieux but maybe try calling RMU with everything going on they may have a spot open. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a simple diagram for youth player progression.  Please note that your player does not need to make a stop on each stair in the stair case. If she's good enough, she can hop steps as long as she qualifies by age.  

If she is doing learn to play now at age 6, cross ice ADM is your next step.  But only after she's doing really well in learn to play.  You can continue in learn to play if you don't think she is competitive yet.  Nothing wrong with that as long as she's getting lots of puck touches and developing good skills. 

If you want to try something different, you can look for the next learn-to-play session at Baierl - they run about every 10 weeks or so, also led by Coach Black, Coach Malone, etc.  You can also check with the Wildcats to see if there are any ADM openings.  

Baierl also does a nice girls-only development program called Lady Cats.  Usually it's a spring/summer offering, and meets less frequently but helps keep girls together.  You could check into that as well.

 

Youth Hockey Progression Chart

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, for development programming at Baierl: information on in-season programs (August-February) can be found on the Wildcats web site.  Information on spring and summer programs (March-July) can be found on the Baierl web site.  All programming is operated by Jim Black and friends, regardless of which site you sign up on.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

PPE has far and away the best skating/stick handling/ puck skills of anyone out there.  Get your kid in a high level program if they are so inclined and keep them there.  There is a difference between hockey players and kids that like to play hockey.  Determining which kid you have is half the battle.  

  • ROTF 1
  • Are you sure? 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, HSFBLJ said:

PPE has far and away the best skating/stick handling/ puck skills of anyone out there.  Get your kid in a high level program if they are so inclined and keep them there.  There is a difference between hockey players and kids that like to play hockey.  Determining which kid you have is half the battle.  

At the rec mite level?  That's the craziest thing I have ever read. 

  • Like 1
  • 100 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, HSFBLJ said:

PPE has far and away the best skating/stick handling/ puck skills of anyone out there.  Get your kid in a high level program if they are so inclined and keep them there.  There is a difference between hockey players and kids that like to play hockey.  Determining which kid you have is half the battle.  

Satire ? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Again, thanks for the advice. I’m not sure if the person advising on Pens is serious or not but I feel like thats the image I get there. It makes it hard to qualify programs without personally having any relevant hockey experience. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Danner27 said:

Satire ? 

I hope so because that statement is the biggest crock of shit I have read on this site. 

Over the last 3yrs they have lost their 3 best skating/skills coaches and their best Goalie coach. The lady that ran the learn to skate classes was let go of her duties because she was suing the Lemieux center because they refused to give her the proper privacy and time to pump her milk for her newborn baby. They eliminated the extra skating and skills days because they sold off to much ice. It got so bad the last 2yrs that parents were asking for money back because they straight up lied about the skating and skills. Most of the PPE kids go to private coaches elsewhere to get their skating/skills training because they lack the quality at Lemieux center since they ran all their GOOD coaches out. 

That organization will fold within the next 10yrs. They have screwed over, pushed out and blackballed to many people over their first what 8yrs in business (oops I mean non profit organization 😉😉) my bad. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

If you child wants to start playing hockey I would get him or her into an ADM program this season.  No reason to  do another learn to play session it just puts of his or her development a season.  The reason I say this is that most ADM programs are 2 days a week and at the end of the day your child has to get on the ice to start developing.

At this point, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the 3 programs.  Pick one that fits your schedule and has a spot for you.  At the end of the season you can reevaluate the situation.  The only thing that can hinder your player’s development is if you wind up in a situation where he or she isn’t having fun.  
 

And the Jamborees were fun for the kids.  To the kids they seem like a big deal.

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/1/2020 at 7:26 AM, twoboys said:

If you child wants to start playing hockey I would get him or her into an ADM program this season.  No reason to  do another learn to play session it just puts of his or her development a season.  The reason I say this is that most ADM programs are 2 days a week and at the end of the day your child has to get on the ice to start developing.

At this point, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the 3 programs.  Pick one that fits your schedule and has a spot for you.  At the end of the season you can reevaluate the situation.  The only thing that can hinder your player’s development is if you wind up in a situation where he or she isn’t having fun.  
 

And the Jamborees were fun for the kids.  To the kids they seem like a big deal.

This is the best advice. Any of those 3 are suitable options. At this age, when you are just trying to gauge interest, I would choose the program that best fits your life/work schedule. You don’t want to rush home,  then do 90mph across town to get to one of these places because it starts at X time... For your kids enjoyment, and yours. Just find what works best for the schedule. 
 

I don’t want to entertain the negativity here, but some people involved with other rinks/programs have a full blown side gig of bashing and trashing anything and anyone at Lemeiux. And don’t get me wrong, Lemeiux hasn’t been perfect over the years, but MOST of it is nonsense. 

 

In regards to coaching, are the coaches not engaged? Or are they not dictating decisions for the players on the ice? I will take a coach who is reserved and speaks minimally over a coach who looks engaged, but is literally calling out orders to the players on the ice... go left, go right, shoot, move the puck etc. 

Edited by ctil20
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, ctil20 said:

This is the best advice. Any of those 3 are suitable options. At this age, when you are just trying to gauge interest, I would choose the program that best fits your life/work schedule. You don’t want to rush home,  then do 90mph across town to get to one of these places because it starts at X time... For your kids enjoyment, and yours. Just find what works best for the schedule. 
 

I don’t want to entertain the negativity here, but some people involved with other rinks/programs have a full blown side gig of bashing and trashing anything and anyone at Lemeiux. And don’t get me wrong, Lemeiux hasn’t been perfect over the years, but MOST of it is nonsense. 

 

In regards to coaching, are the coaches not engaged? Or are they not dictating decisions for the players on the ice? I will take a coach who is reserved and speaks minimally over a coach who looks engaged, but is literally calling out orders to the players on the ice... go left, go right, shoot, move the puck etc. 

I had one play there, had some doors opened to him from ppe. Everything negative you heard is true. It’s turned into a money laundering front for the pro team, a tax shelter. At one time they had great coaches, great skills people. It’s all stripped down now. It’s about the money. 
to the younger parents, please folks, just let your kids have fun at their pace!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Danner27 said:

I had one play there, had some doors opened to him from ppe. Everything negative you heard is true. It’s turned into a money laundering front for the pro team, a tax shelter. At one time they had great coaches, great skills people. It’s all stripped down now. It’s about the money. 
to the younger parents, please folks, just let your kids have fun at their pace!

 This ^^^^^

When they are 6, just get them to love being at the rink!  When the rinks start letting you back in take him to open skate.  Take him to watch the big kids.  Walk around the dashers and collect the pucks.  Buy a snack.  When they are teenagers and they are at the rink you will be thankful that they are there instead of worrying what trouble they might be out getting into (had a wise midget coach tell me that one afternoon and I thanked him 10 years later).

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Danner27 said:

I had one play there, had some doors opened to him from ppe. Everything negative you heard is true. It’s turned into a money laundering front for the pro team, a tax shelter. At one time they had great coaches, great skills people. It’s all stripped down now. It’s about the money. 
to the younger parents, please folks, just let your kids have fun at their pace!

Exactly,  spent 4yrs there because my kid wanted to be there but the prices kept going up and up for less and less. 

The guy that started this thread even said that he noticed the coaching at the younger level. Those coaches are there to make money and that's it. Granted like anywhere you have a select few that do enjoy coaching but not many. They have a lot of parent coaches and a lot of their coaches work for other skills and development coaches around the area where they poach players to go to their classes instead of the Pens. 

 

People think that other people are just hating on the PPE because their kids didn't make a team or they are jealous when most of the people commenting about the PPE are or have actually been there and are speaking from experience. 

 

  • Like 1
  • 100 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

To me the interesting thing about Youth Hockey is that you can take your kid anywhere in SW pa and sign up for their Organizations Hockey program. Just depends on your willingness to travel. For someone interested in playing at the best organization it can potentially involve a lot of research. Also it seems different organizations have very different philosophies as to how to run their programs. Also some organizations are stronger at certain Birth Years than others.  Bottom line is they all seem to have strengths and weaknesses.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I would add... I see a lot of parents burn bridges because of a certain coach (who they may not even have next year), or perceived or real favoritism (you want your kid to be a favorite? Make sure he/she listens, goes to practice and not just games, and does the drills with their best effort and correctly. This usually endears your kid to the coaches more than scoring goals and being a puck hog) . 

Don't be the parent who is a pain in the neck, and don't burn bridges. You or your child might want to return to an organization you moved on from someday. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...