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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 (LTP)

One your player has some skating basic, the next step is Learn to Play (LTP) .  The NoVA Ice Dogs LTP program is designed to provide players, ages 5 and up, with the opportunity to learn and practice the fundamentals of individual and team hockey in a fun environment. Our program is based on the USA Hockey American Development Model philosophy and is intended to teach players the fundamentals of the game in a fun and supportive environment. We’ve structured our program towards boys and girls who already possess some skating ability. Skating fundamentals are critical for this age group; we continuously emphasize such fundamentals throughout each session. This is not "skating lessons", but a great introductory program for youth who would like to try hockey!

Our LTP Program has traditionally skated on Sundays from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at the Mt. Vernon Recreation Center starting in September of each year.  We have offered three, 8-week sessions running from September thru February.

  • All LTP session for the 2021-2022 season are full and registration is closed.
  • Next LTP session will be September 2022. 

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.


  • Advanced skating skills are not required. However, we strongly encourage each player to have some basic skating ability. We encourage skating programs such as Snowplow Sam or Basic 3 or similar skating lessons offered by Fairfax County Parks Authority and others.

Program Focus

Our LTP program will focus on the basic skills required to play hockey.  These include:

  • Skating – forward stride, backward stride, stopping, agility, balance, coordination
  • Stickhandling and Puck Protection – fundamentals of stickhandling and how to keep possession of the puck
  • Passing – fundamentals of passing, including technique and different types of passing with a focus on forehand and backhand passes
  • Scoring – teaching shooting basics (wrist shot and backhand) as well as scoring concept.

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.

Program Structure

The NoVA Ice Dogs LTP sessions begin in September and run through late February. The program will be led by USA Hockey Certified coaches within the NoVA Ice Dogs Hockey Club and supported by parent volunteer coaches.  There are two formal offerings within the Learn to Play Program based upon age, attention span and experience.

Learn to Play 1 (LTP60)

Learn to Play 1 (LTP60) is intended for younger children (5 – 7 years old).

  • The LTP1 group will meet one time per week on Sunday afternoons for 60 minutes. 
  • Younger players (e.g. 5-years of age) and those with a lessor attention should participate in LTP60 and should not advance to LTP90.  All players born in 2014 and lessor experienced players or those with a lessor attention span born in 2013 and 2012 should register for LTP45.

Learn to Play 2 (LTP90)

Learn to Play 2 (LTP90) is intended for older children (6 – 13 years old) or those that have completed at least one session of NoVA's LTP60

  • The LTP90 group will meet one time per week on Sunday afternoons for 90 minutes.

Age Enrollment Guidelines

The following are recommendations for each age based upon a recommended transition path to organized Recreational/Travel hockey.

  • 2015 – LTP1 only
  • 2014 – LTP1 or LTP2
  • 2013 – LTP1 or LTP2 (LTP2 recommended)
  • 2012 – LTP2 strongly recommended
  • 2011 – LTP2 strongly recommended
  • 2010 and older – LTP2 only

Volunteer Coaches

Our program is dependent on adults willing to volunteer their time to help the kids learn to play the great game of hockey.  We greatly appreciate all the volunteers from previous seasons who come back to help and we encourage new volunteers to help us each year. You will not be stuck out there by yourself, experienced Ice Dogs coaches will plan and lead the sessions. If you would like to volunteer, please email so we can put you on the list – no previous hockey experience is necessary, ability to stand up and move around on skates is very beneficial, patience and a desire to have fun with the kids is required.  Minimum requirements for volunteer coaches include:

  • Registration with USA Hockey
  • SafeSport Education
  • Background Check

Upcoming Seasons and Registration

  • All LTP session for the 2021-2022 season are full and registration is closed.
  • Next LTP session will be September 2022. 

Click HERE for LTP frequently ask questions


Ted Porrey

LTP Coordinator

Ashleigh Byrnes

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