I think a backyard ice hockey rink sounds like something straight out of a Rockwell painting (well, maybe not the hockey part, but humor me here). Snow falling, a stand of trees in the background, the unmistakable scraping sound of metal on ice. Whoops. How idyllic is this gonna be if my boys have no clue how to skate, much less handle a stick?! Being that this is the Northeast, there are a good many rinks in Fairfield County where your little boys and girls can learn the game (while you hone your bleacher warming skills). For more winter fun, check out our Winter Fun Guide.
Keep in mind, all of these classes require the purchase of at least a helmet, gloves and stick, on top of the session fees.
Chelsea Piers CT, Stamford
If you want to start as young as 3, you'll enroll your tyke in 'Learn to Play' program at Chelsea Piers. Prior skating knowledge is required, along with hockey skates, a helmet, a facemask, elbow pads, shin pads, a hockey stick and hockey gloves. Skaters progress from 'Learn to Play' to the 'Mini-Mites' recreational league. 'Learn to Play' is offered on Wednesday and Saturdays for 50 minutes in 10 or 18 week sessions. Mini-Mites skaters must be at least five years old, and attend one practice and game every week in a 12 week session.
One Blachley Road, Stamford, CT 06902 203-989-1000
Danbury Ice Arena, Danbury
Beginners from age 3.5, can take the 'Hockey Learn to Skate' class where they'll be introduced to swizzles, wiggles and stops -- sounds about right! Weekly classes are offered on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for seven or eight weeks, depending on the session. Danbury also offers youth rec leagues for your budding skater to look forward to. There are two remaining sessions offered for the 2017 winter season.
One Independence Way, Danbury, CT 06810 203-794-1704
Sports Center of CT, Shelton
Skaters at the Sports Center can say they've played on the world’s only double-decker NHL Ice Rinks. Tykes as young as three can learn the game here, during weekly one-hour sessions. The Sports Center's learn to skate program is a prerequisite for all hockey programs. Hockey sessions run in eight week sessions year round. Players progress through the 'Learn to Play Hockey' system as their skills improve advancing from a 'rookie' to a 'junior' to the 'JR Development League.' Eventually, they can hit the ice on a Youth Hockey League team.
784 River Rd. (Rt. 110)
Shelton, CT 06484
Wonderland of Ice, Bridgeport
The official practice facility of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers offers lessons for the budding hockey player. The rink's 'Micro-hockey' program is designed for tots age 4 who have a grasp on basic skating skills. The winter session runs for 11 weeks on Sunday afternoons from January 8th to March 19th. All enrolled players receive a free Wonderland Wizards t-shirt.
123 Glenwood Ave., Bridgeport, CT 203-576-8110
Sono Ice House, Norwalk
Another USA Hockey location, Sono Ice House starts kids as young as four with the fundamentals in its 'Initiation to Hockey' class, before moving them along to 'Hockey 101.' When your skater turns six, they can sign up for 3 on 3 at a rink designed specifically for the task. They don't have to play 'cross ice', but can enjoy a mini-rink complete with benches, boards, glass and nets.
300 Wilson Ave., Norwalk, CT 06854 203-956-0255
Winter Garden Ice Arena, Ridgefield
The options here run the gamut. Skaters as young as three can start out in weekly 40-minute 'Ice Mice' classes. If your child is already skating, and 4-6 years old, you can opt for the more advanced 'Intro to Hockey' instead. Note, both of these are offered on weekdays -- so in theory, for children not in full-day school. There is however, a Saturday morning 'Ice Mice' class for children in full day school, who are brand-new to the sport. More advanced skaters, age five and up, can enroll in Winter Garden's USA Hockey-based skills program 'Learn to Skate' that run for 50-minutes, also on Saturday mornings. Alternatively, those age five and up who need even more of a challenge, can take the 'Hockey Development' program, offered on Saturday mornings. Winter Garden's recreational youth program is called the Ridgefield Jaguars. The second half of the season begins Jan 6 for ages 6-14.
111 Prospect Ridge, Ridgefield, CT 203-438-4423
Stamford Twin Rinks, Stamford
Once your 3-year-old masters the 'Snowplow Sam 2' level of Ice Tots, they can advance to Tot Hockey. The weekly classes are either Monday or Friday, depending on age. The next session starts Jan 3 running for eight weeks. From here, they advance to 'Hockey 1-4' classes.
1063 Hope Street Stamford, CT 06907 203-968-9000
Milford Ice Pavilion, Milford
Players age 3-12 are introduced to the basic skills of skating, puck control, passing and shooting in Milford Ice Pavilion's 'Learn to Play Hockey' program. Players are divided into three separate groups based on age and ability. Sessions are offered on Saturdays and Sundays for one hour.
291 Sub Way, Milford, CT 06460 203-878-6516
Fairfield Ice Academy, Fairfield
FIA's 'Hockey 101' is an into class for players brand new to the game ages 4 and up. The program's small class sizes allow for focusing on skating skills, improving balance and ability before shifting to learning the hockey basics. Full equipment is required and players must be able to skate on their own. Sessions are offered five days a week. FIA Hockey is an intermediate class for players who have already completed 'Hockey 101' and are looking to develop their technique and skills. The ice academy also offers girls hockey and drop-in 3-on-3 hockey.
85 Mill Plain Rd, Fairfield, CT 06824 203-254-8399
Photo courtesy of Fairfield Ice Academy.
Originally published 11/13/13.