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Programs

What options do the Polar Caps offer?

The Polar Caps offer a wide range of hockey programs suited to the needs of each individual player as they progress. We align our programs with USA Hockey’s American Development Model (ADM) to promote sustained physical activity, health and safety, and age-appropriate development and performance for our players. Our coaches closely monitor the skill level and aptitude of players to make sure the hockey experience is positive and rewarding.

USA Hockey's guide to age level development

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In-House Programs

District Residency for In-House

Players in the Polar Caps In-House programs should reside in the Vel Phillips Memorial or West High School districts in Madison. Please contact our Registrar if you have questions about district residency.

Learn to PLAY (September-March)

Polar Caps offers several Learn to Play (LTP) sessions beginning in the fall and throughout the winter season. Each LTP session runs for about 5 weeks. LTP is for our newest and often youngest players who may have had some prior experience skating. LTP is designed to be a fun, low-pressure introduction to basic hockey skills through games and free-play.

  • Season:  LTP sessions start in September and run through the beginning of March (Learn More)
  • Typical Schedule:  Practices on Wednesday early evening and Saturday afternoon
  • Next Steps:  Players who do a LTP session in the fall move into Cross-Ice 6U or RWB 8U depending on their age at the beginning of the season in October. Players who do a LTP session later in the year move into Cross-Ice 6U or RWB 8U depending on their age in the following season.

Cross Ice 6U - Hockey Intro (October - March)

The Cross Ice (X-Ice) program teaches players ages 5-6 who have advanced from LTP the basic strategies of competitive hockey and introduces team and competitive play. Cross Ice teams typically practice 2-3 times per week prior to the start of games in December. Then they practice 1-2 times per week and play scrimmage games against other Cross Ice teams in the Dane County area on 1/3 of a sheet of ice with no goalies.

  • Season: Starts in mid-October and ends in mid-March
  • Typical Schedule: Practices on Wednesday early evening and Saturday afternoon, games on Sunday morning or afternoon
  • ADM: Stage 1 Active Start and Stage 2 Fundamentals
  • Next Steps: At the conclusion of their 1-2 Cross Ice years, players move on to RWB 8U

Red, White & Blue 8U (MITES) - Local Travel Hockey Intro (October - March)

Also known as Mites, the Red, White & Blue (RWB) program is for players ages 7-8 that stresses continued development of skating skills, hockey strategies, and fundamentals. The three levels within the program (Red, White, Blue) provide an appropriate like-skill experience for all skaters. RWB players practice 2-3 times a week prior to the start of games in November. Then they practice 1-2 times per week and play recreational games on the weekend against other RWB teams in the Dane County area on 1/2 of a sheet of ice or on the Studio ice rink at MIA with a suited up goalie in the net. RWB teams often participate in a local tournament during the season.

The Polar Caps also offers an 8U Girls Jamboree team which offers 8U girls a chance to play together in local tournaments throughout the season.

  • Season: Starts in mid-October and ends in mid-March
  • Typical Schedule: Practices on Wednesday early evening and Saturday morning, games on Sunday morning or afternoon
  • ADM: Stage 2 Fundamentals
  • Next Steps: When players age out of RWB 8U, they move on to 10U Youth/ Squirt or 10U Girls hockey.

10U Development - Hockey Intro (October - March)

The 10U Development program functions as an extension of LTP for newer, older players who have not gone through Cross Ice 6U and/or RWB 8U. The program serves players at the 10U (9-10 year olds) age level who may have had some prior experience skating. They practice 1-2 times per week and play recreational small-area scrimmage games on the Studio rink. Practices focus on fundamentals and skill development and introduce gameplay concepts as the season progresses. Additionally, some full ice skills practices and scrimmages combining 10U Development players with our 10U travel teams are scheduled throughout the season to introduce additional hockey tactics and strategies.

  • Season: Starts in mid-October and ends in mid-March
  • Typical Schedule: Practices on Friday evening and/or Saturday afternoon (note that additional skills practices may be on Tuesday or Thursday), games on Sunday morning
  • ADM: Stage 1 Active Start and Stage 2 Fundamentals
  • Next Steps: At the conclusion of 1 year of 10U development, players move on to a travel team based on their birth year: 10U Youth/Squirt, 10U Girls, 12U Youth/Peewee, or 12U Girls.

House 12U/14U - Recreational Hockey Intro (October - March)

The House program, previously known as Rink Rats, focuses on continued development of skating skills, basic hockey concepts, and fundamentals. The House 12/14U program serves players at the 12U+ (11 years and older) age levels who are typically newer, older players and have not gone through the ADM stages covered at Cross Ice 6U and/or RWB 8U. They practice 1-2 times per week and play recreational small-area scrimmage games on the Studio rink. Practices focus on skill development and may be wholly dedicated to 3v3 or 4v4 gameplay  as the season progresses. Additionally, some full ice practices and scrimmages combining House 12/14U players with our 12U co-ed peewee and 12U girls teams may be scheduled throughout the season to introduce development of additional hockey tactics and strategies. 

Note that more advanced players who want to play full ice games on a team against other club teams in a competitive team format with players of their same age should register for the 12U youth/co-ed peewee, 12U girls or 14U youth bantam teams.

  • Season: Starts in mid-October and ends in mid-March
  • Typical Schedule: Practices on Friday evening and/or Saturday afternoon, games on Sunday morning
  • ADM: Stage 1 Active Start and Stage 2 Fundamentals
  • Next Steps: At the conclusion of 1 year of development at House, it is recommended that players move on to Pee Wee / Girls 12U or Bantam / Girls 14U depending on their age

Travel Program

District Residency for Travel

Players in the Polar Caps Travel program should reside in the Vel Phillips Memorial or West High School districts in Madison. Please contact our Registrar if you have questions about district residency or transfer qualifications.

Co-Ed and Girls Teams (SEPTEMBER - March)

As your player progresses, they will move up to the travel hockey teams at each age classification.

  • 10U: Squirt/Youth/co-ed or all girls. (9-10 year olds)
  • 12U: Peewee/Youth/co-ed or all girls (11-12 year olds)
  • 14U: Bantam/Youth/co-ed (13-14 year olds)

Placement on these competitive teams is designed specifically to group together players with similar skill levels and experience and in the best interest of each players' development. Evaluations are held at the conclusion of preseason practices to determine team placements. Depending on the total number of players at an age group, the Polar Caps roster teams at the following levels of competition: A, B, C1, and C2, within WAHA (Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association).

Girls 10U and 12U

In 2024-25, the Polar Caps will host at least one all-girls team each at the 10U and 12U age levels for the season. If registration numbers can support it, the Polar Caps will form A and B girls teams at each level. The Polar Caps will accept qualified transfers to support formation of two all-girls teams at each level. This is supported by the WAHA rule allowing girls to play for a neighboring association's all-girls team if their home association doesn't offer an all-girls team. 

Girls and Boys 14U

In 2024-25 the Polar Caps will not have enough players to field an all-girls teams at the 14U age level and their best option is the Madison Mavericks, which are hosted by Verona (Learn More). Note that girls in 9th grade who have one year of 14U eligibility left (birth year 2010) may have options to continue to play with the Mavericks 14U team or with the Metro Lynx, the girls co-op high school team for the Madison area.

Note that Boys in 9th grade who still have a year of Bantam 14U eligibility left typically play their 2nd year of Bantam with the Polar Caps. First, the Bantam-eligible 9th graders go through the Polar Caps evaluation process and are placed on a Bantam team. Second, they go through the tryout process with their high school team along with the rest of the high school age players. Then the high school coaches have the option to select a Bantam-eligible 9th grader for their high school team depending on the required skills, experience, and/or team needs.

Travel schedule

The Polar Caps 10U, 12U Girls and 14U teams typically have 3 practices per week, off-ice training, and weekend games at home and/or away throughout WI and sometimes in neighboring states. Typically, teams may participate in a regional area weekend tournament and may also have 2 or more out of town weekend tournaments per season. The level of travel for games and tournaments is adjusted for each team each season based on what is needed to create a balanced schedule while maintaining a competitive environment for the team as a whole.

Travel teams also play for an opportunity to compete in the Wisconsin State Tournament at the end of the season (usually first weekend in March). The Polar Caps travel teams are part of Region 4 and play in Division 1 of WAHA.

  • Season: Preseason starts in September and season ends in early to mid-March
  • Typical Schedule: Practices on weeknights Monday to Friday, off-ice training on Monday, games on weekends Saturday and/or Sunday
  • ADM: Stage 3 Learn to Train (10U and 12U) and Stage 4 Training to Train (14U)
  • Next Steps: At the conclusion of each Travel team age level, players progress on to the next one. Typically, players will spend 2 years at 10U, 2 years at 12U, and 2 years at 14U.

2024-2025 Season Program Options by Skater Age

Birth Year "Hockey Age" Learn to Play 6U Cross Ice 8U Mite RWB 10U-12U+ House 10U Squirt 12U Pee Wee 14U Bantam
2021 3 Yes
2020 4 Yes Yes
2019 5 Yes Yes
2018 6 Yes Yes
2017 7 Yes Yes
2016 8 Yes Yes
2015 9 Yes Yes Yes
2014 10 Yes Yes Yes
2013 11 Yes Yes Yes
2012 12 Yes Yes
2011 13 Yes Yes
2010 14 Yes Yes

Notes on Recommended Options by Age:

  • New skaters ages 5-6 should do the first session of LTP and then Cross Ice 6U for the season.
  • New skaters ages 7-8 should do the first session of LTP and then RWB 8U for the season.
  • New skaters ages 9-10 should do the first session of LTP and then House for the season.
  • New skaters ages 11+ should do House for the season.
  • Players who have previously completed Cross Ice 6U should do RWB 8U for the season.
  • Players who have previously completed RWB 8U should do Squirt or Girls 10U for the season.
  • Players who have previously completed 1-2 years of House should do Squirt or Girls 10U, Pee Wee or Girls 12U, or Bantam / Girls 14U based on their age group for the season.

Fees

Polar Caps' fees have historically been some of the lowest in the city, and having parent volunteers helps to keep costs down. In addition, the Polar Caps have financial aid available to help families on a fixed income with fees and costs.