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New To Hockey

Whether your child is new to hockey, or your family is new to the area -- Welcome! Thanks for checking out the Ice Dogs! We are confident you will find a program that fits your player’s and your family’s needs!

Where to Begin


If your child is interested in hockey, the first thing to do is get them skating!

Click HERE for skating lessons schedule and registration.  

Learn to Play Program

The NoVA Ice Dogs Learn to Play (LTP) program is designed to provide players ages 5 -12 with the opportunity to learn and practice the fundamentals of individual and team hockey in a fun and supportive environment. Our program is based on the USA Hockey American Development Model, emphasizing the basic hockey skills: skating, puck handling, passing and scoring. Each skill is introduced and refined in a progressive, one-step-at-a-time manner and then again through repetition. Children learn and develop through participating in practice drills and informal and modified games.  

The LTP season consists of ten 45-minute sessions,* held on Sunday evenings at Mount Vernon ReCenter.

Group assignments may be adjusted based on numbers and skills of players.  


  • Players should have basic skating skills, such as those taught in “Snowplow Sam” programs 1 and 2 (offered through the Fairfax County Parks Authority) or the equivalent. This includes knowing how to fall down and get up, start, stop, and turn.  

  • Participants need to register with USAHockey. Registration fees vary by birth year. Your USAHockey registration number is good for a full year (August-August). 

  • LTP skaters need full gear (helmet, pads, gloves, sticks, skates) to be on the ice. Check out gear inventory lists here. The Ice Dogs have *very limited* supplies of gear to loan: contact if you need help locating gear. 

Program Goals

  • To have fun and grow a passion for the game.

  • To learn the fundamental skills required to play the game of hockey - skating, puck handling, passing and scoring.

  • To develop players so they are prepared to take the next steps and play in one of the various NoVA Ice Dogs Programs.

  • To be introduced to the concepts of cooperation and fair play.

What does my child get out of this program?

The program emphasizes the basic hockey skills: skating, puck handling, passing and scoring. Each skill is introduced and refined in a progressive one step at a time manner and then again through repetition. Children learn and develop through participating in practice drills and informal and modified games (such as shinny, freeze tag and obstacle courses). Although the emphasis is on fun and progressive skill development, the Learn to Play Program also allows kids to experience “real hockey” situations.

This video does a great job highlighting your child’s Learn to Play experience from their perspective – couldn’t be more accurate.


Our program is lead by Mike Hearon. Coach Mike is a career Navy Pilot who grew up playing hockey on Long Island, played club hockey at Fordham University, and currently plays adult hockey with the D.C. Armed Forces Club. Mike’s wife, Coach Lauren, is a professional skating instructor. They are supported on the ice by other volunteer coaches. Minimum requirements for volunteer coaches include:

  • Registration with USA Hockey
  • SafeSport Education
  • Background Check

For more information and to register for the current LTP season, see our registration page

Click HERE for LTP frequently ask questions


Mike Hearon

LTP Coordinator

Hockey Gear

Equipment selection equipment is a key issue for players, parents and coaches. When purchasing and fitting hockey equipment, remember two important factors: 1) make certain the player is adequately protected and 2) be sure the fitting allows freedom of movement so the player can properly perform the necessary skills. By carefully considering these two factors, your child will be more comfortable and will better enjoy their participation. 

A complete set of hockey equipment can be purchased for a relatively reasonable cost – you do not need to buy the most expensive equipment at young age groups. It is critical the equipment fit properly. Buying skates or other equipment two sizes too large so that the child can get "a few years out of them" is a prescription for frustration for the child.

Click HERE for a complete gear list and options for where to purchase.

Click HERE for video on youth hockey gear and how to put it on.

What's Next After Learn To Play

After Learn To Play, you can register for a CCHL/club team or try out for a CBHL/travel team.  Girls can play for a co-ed team (in either CBHL or CCHL) or try out for an all-girls team.

Click HERE to learn about our 8U, CCHL/club team, CBHL/travel team, and Girls program.

Hockey Resources

USA Hockey has a Parent Guide with some good information. You can access it via this link: USA Hockey Parent Guide

An instructional video on how to dress your new hockey player – How to Dress Youth Hockey Players for Practice

Additional websites to learn more about hockey basics and how to start playing: USA Hockey   PVAHA   How to Hockey   Start Playing Hockey