The game of hockey is played on ice; the more opportunity to play it, the greater the skill development. Thus, the more ice available to a team, the quicker such development will occur.

Ice time, however, is expensive. More and more of Ottawa’s recreational facilities are being made available on a ‘user pay’ basis with fees geared to market demand. Within the Ottawa area – a.k.a. ‘Hockey Country’ – demand is high. In addition, existing facilities continue to age and are either being taken off-line for retrofit or closed. No new sheets are currently planned for the Ottawa region.

House League teams, on the other hand, are a different breed. Some teams formed seek as much ice as financially possible within the limits of their team fees and, at times, with some additional fundraising. Other House League teams determine that their scheduled League games combined with their OMHA practice allocation is fully sufficient to make a good season. And yet other House League teams present a mix of both camps.

As a Team Manager, you have the delicate task of trying to obtain consensus among Coaching staff, Parents and Players as to what may be considered ‘sufficient’ ice to make an enjoyable and, with luck, successful season. Reaching consensus on an ice plan, especially within House League teams, and then locating suitable ice to carry out the plan, is perhaps the most difficult task of all Team Manager duties. The key, once again, is to reach consensus on an ice plan at your initial Parent Meeting, to review it frequently with the Coach and Parents and to discuss any proposed variation to it with the Parents – especially when it involves increased costs or time commitment – in advance of making such commitment.

The ‘Sale Ice’ page of the OMHA website is the first place to start looking for ice. It is OMHA policy that Orleans Minor Hockey Association assigned ice (game or practice ice) be offered first to OMHA teams. If unable to get rid of it by word of mouth, such sheets are subsequently offered for sale on this page. OMHA ice is normally located within east end of Ottawa and thus convenient to families. As it is acquired from the City at a reduced rate for Minor Hockey, it is also most often the cheapest at resale.

Note: Every effort must be made to sell or trade ice among OMHA teams. Failure to do so may result in a reduction in ice allocated to the OMHA the following year. However, no hockey association wants unused ice to lie idle. Should you have exhausted every reasonable avenue to trade or sell your ice, the President of the OMHA should be contacted and advised. Sale or trade of OMHA ice to non-OMHA parties is prohibited unless otherwise authorized by the President of the OMHA. Teams not adhering to this requirement will be penalized.

Similarly, the GHA posts available ice on its website under its ‘Ice for Sale’ tab. Ice posted on this page will be located throughout the GHA jurisdiction. It again is offered at the Minor Hockey rate at resale.

Other formal ice contacts which may be tapped include municipalities, the Universities, private facility operators and other minor hockey associations. Such ice is normally more expensive than ice offered within the OMHA or GHA envelope and may have other restrictions (i.e. must be returned to the facility as opposed to traded or sold to others, if not to be utilized) or benefits (i.e. some ice purchased at the Civic Centre provides reduced-price ticket offerings for 67s games) associated with it.

Your most important source with which to seek available ice, however, is your hockey contact network. Building and maintaining good contacts among other Team Managers, Coaches, Parents and Players at all levels provides information avenues with respect to ice availability which can be tapped. Remember, however, that they are searching for ice as hard as you are. Thus, ensure that you are open to ‘giving’ as well as ‘receiving’ ice opportunities to/from others.

Quite simply, there is no magic formula with which to find additional ice. It is a daily hunt, a constant challenge but a great source of pride for the Team Manager when the Team Manager meets the target and does so within the established financial envelope.

Exhibition Games

Exhibition games are often used in preseason for evaluation of game play fundamentals during tryouts, to fill schedule gaps over the course of season play and to challenge opposing teams from outside of the League.

While the entire Coaching staff actively pursues leads towards finding suitable opponents for potential exhibition matches, the responsibility to ultimately coordinate and facilitate such matches falls with the Team Manager. To do so, the following steps should be followed –

  • Identify suitable available ice within your schedule (assigned practice ice or purchased sheets) available for use for an exhibition game

  • Identify a couple of potential opponents and contact them in order of preference to determine availability and interest in playing

  • Establish whether the costs (ice and Officials) will be offset by a return match on the opponents Home ice or whether costs will be split evenly between the teams

  • Utilize the electronic Exhibition Game Request Form located on the District 9 Referee Association (D9RA) website - www.webruler.com/d9ra/ - to book officials and to confirm costs

  • Confirm arrangements (date, time, location and allocation of costs) in writing with the opposing team

  • Approximately 15-20 mins in advance of game time, locate the Referee Room, confirm that Officials have arrived, advise them of the Division and Category of play and provide payment. Note – payment for all exhibition matches must be made in cash in advance of the Officials taking to the ice. Payment should be made in accordance with the appropriate Division and Category of play and duration of the exhibition match (i.e. Peewee A HL – 60 mins; Minor Midget Rep B – 90 mins.). Such information is readily available on the D9RA website (see Appendix 12 – D9RA Pay Rate Matrix)

  • Locate the Team Manager of the opposing Team and obtain payment to offset costs incurred or to confirm return exhibition game arrangements, as agreed

  • Sit back and enjoy the game

The OMHA operates within District 9 of the ODMHA. If you purchase ice outside of your district for your exhibition game, you will have to book Officials directly from that District. If, for some reason, Officials are not available to work the game from within that District, you should contact the D9RA who will make every effort to coordinate with the District concerned in order to provide suitable Officials for your game.

A travel permit must be completed and signed by the O.M.H.A. President, District Chairman or Branch Chairman as the case may be, for all teams travelling out of area for exhibition games (distance beyond 100 km in or out of Province or any travel to the province of Quebec requires a permit).

Note – under no circumstances is a 5 on 5 exhibition game to be played without certified Officials on-ice. To do so voids the CHA insurance provisions placing liability upon the respective Coaching staffs, the Association and the League. Coaches not adhering strictly to this requirement will be subject to immediate suspension and potential further disciplinary measures.