Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why play hockey?
There are many great reasons to play hockey. Starting with the bonds created in the locker room to the relationships formed on ice, hockey creates life-long friendships. This camaraderie shared on and off the ice encourages teamwork and the natural development of leadership skills. It is more than a game - it develops skills that provide a solid foundation for a lifetime from athletic prowess to confidence, pride, focus and responsibility. Hockey’s unique source of physical fitness promotes healthy living. Players are set up for success as they learn time management skills by balancing school, responsibilities at home, time at the rink and playing with friends. Last, but not least, hockey is fun! The thrill of carrying the puck up the ice on a breakaway, the exhilaration of scoring your first goal or making that amazing save is possible due to the encouraging environment hockey provides to try new things and grow as a hockey player and person. (source: http://www.usahockey.com/comeplayyouthhockey)
2. What program is right for my skater?
The right program will depend on your skater's age, skill level, and interest. Amherst Hockey Association (AHA) has many programs for interested skaters.
Learn to Skate and Learn to Play (beginner programs, 8 years old and younger): These programs start the first weekend in November and end in March. Learn to Skate takes place on Saturday afternoons primarily at the Mullins Center practice facility at UMass. Learn to Play takes place on Saturday afternoons with cross-ice games on Sunday mornings at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield, MA. [more info]
Co-Ed Travel Teams (age 6 to 17): These teams compete in the Greater Springfield Junior Hockey League (GSL). Each team typically plays 20-30 games and has more than 100 hours of ice time during the September through March season. This includes tournaments and independent games that are scheduled throughout Massachusetts, North Central Connecticut, Vermont, western New Hampshire, and northeast New York. [more info]
Girls House Team (ages 8 and up): The girls in-house team is for older girls who are new to hockey and are not yet ready to play on a travel team. [more info]
Girls Travel Team - part-time (10U and 12U): These teams will allow girls to continue playing on their existing co-ed or girls' travel teams. Teams compete in the Connecticut Girls Hockey League (CGHL) and will typically play 10 games. Teams are open to newer and advanced skaters. [more info]
Girls Travel Team - full-time (14U and 16U): These teams to compete in the Connecticut Girls Hockey League (CGHL). Evaluations and team placement happen in March. For more information on these teams, please contact our Girls Division Director, Kristin Balboni at
Please visit the programs page for more information about our programs.
3. Is hockey safe?
Yes. Hockey players wear more protective equipment than any other sport. According to USA Hockey, a study has shown that ice hockey injuries ranked after both basketball and soccer in emergency room visits related to sport and recreational activities. Youth hockey is a different game than the NHL. With a different set of rules in place, youth hockey places a stronger emphasis on sportsmanship and friendly competition. Contact is not allowed prior to the 14U level (age 13 & 14). At 14U, checking is allowed but NO fighting.
4. When does hockey season start and end?
Our travel season runs from September through March. Learn to Skate, Learn to Play and Girls In-House programs run November through March.
5. What is the time commitment? How many times will each team skate each week?
Learn to Skate players practice 1 hour every Saturday afternoon. Learn to Play players pactice 1 hour every Saturday afternoon and play 1 game on Sunday morning in West Springfield.
Girls House players should plan on 1practice per week.
Travel players should plan on 2 practices per week and 1-2 games per week. In most cases, practices will take place during the week (evenings) and games take place on the weekends around the Pioneer Valley. Part-time teams practice 1-2 times per month.
6. What rinks does Amherst Hockey Association use?
Our programs are conducted primarily at the Mullins Practice Rink (AKA "Mullins Center") and Mullins Main Arena (AKA "Mullins Arena") on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Other rinks used include: Orr Rink at Amherst College, Fitzpatrick Rink in Holyoke, and Collins-Moylan Rink in Greenfield.
7. Do you have to live in Amherst to skate for Amherst Hockey Association?
No. Our program serves youth from a wide range of Massachusetts communities, including Amherst, Belchertown, Hadley, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, Sunderland, Ware, plus additional surrounding towns.
8. What if my skater cannot make it to every game or practice?
We understand that youth hockey might not be the only activity that your child is involved in. We do ask that players on youth travel teams communicate to their coaches any conflicts with a practice or game in advance to provide adequate time to make adjustments.
9. What equipment will my skater need?
[Printable quipment information (PDF)]
All skaters must have an HECC approved hockey helmet with cage/face mask, shin pads, elbow pads, gloves, ice skates, hockey stick and jersey (practice jerseys are provided; however, travel players must purchase home and away game jerseys). Learn to skate players may use regular winter gloves.
Learn to Play, Girls House and travel players must also have: shoulder pads, hockey pants, and hockey socks (provided for Girls In-House and travel players). Hockey under-shorts with athletic supporter/cup are strongly encouraged (the shorts will have velcro patches that serve to hold up the hockey socks).
AHA will hold 2-3 used gear sales in late summer/fall. The dates will be announced on the AHA homepage and through email communications to the members.
10. What color should my skater's equipment be?
The official AHA uniform is a white helmet, red pants, and red, white, or blue gloves. Socks are white with red and blue stripes.
11. Are there required fundraisers?
Sometimes. Our fundraising efforts help us to control association fees and allow us to defer other organizational costs incurred throughout the course of a season. For more information, visit the Fundraising page.
12. Will I have to volunteer my time to the Association?
The AHA is a non-profit organization that relies on parent and community volunteers. Your help is a great way to get involved and meet other families in the Association. We operate a coffee table at Amherst College hockey games that we ask families to staff. Additional volunteers are needed throughout the season for tournaments and community events.
13. How can I be more involved with the Association?
Coach: We are always looking for coaches at all levels. All coaches are volunteers. Even if you cannot skate we can use your help on the bench during games.
Team Manager: This individual helps with team communications and ad hoc team/game preparation.
Contact the board for opportunities to help!
14. I have more questions that are not covered on this FAQ list. Where can I go for answers?
Visit our AHA Contacts web page to find additional contact information.