Portland Jr. Winterhawks

New To Hockey?

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions and other useful information about our programs and the wonderful hockey community in the greater Portland area.  Let's get started...

At what age can my child begin ice hockey with the Jr. Hawks?
Typically children are between 5 and 8 years old when they enter the Mite program, but don't let age stop you; we have seen great skaters develop after joining at 12-15 years old.
Where do the Jr. Winterhawks practice & play? 
The Jr. Winterhawks skate primarily at the Winterhawks Skating Center ( WSC ) in Beaverton which was formerly known as Valley Ice Arena.  In addition, we also skate at Sherwood Ice Arena in Sherwood and sometimes use Mt. View Ice Arena in Vancouver, Washington .  All rinks have great ice, locker rooms, concession stands, rental skates, & friendly staff to assist you.  We also get various opportunties to use the Memorial Coliseum in downtown Portland (facility is booked monthly around the WHL team needs and other events that are hosted by the venue), in fact this is the primary practice facility for our Winterhawks Varsity Teams.
How do I get my player sized for needed gear? 
Northwest Skate Authority has a hockey shop next to both the Winterhawks Skating Center and Sherwood Ice Arena for all your skating needs, including skate sharpening.
What if my child needs to learn to skate?
The local skating rinks, the WSC, Mt View (Vancouver), Sherwood & Ice Chalet (Lloyd Center) have several programs to teach your child to skate. Their “learn to skate” programs will give your child the basics in skating, and their “learn to play hockey” programs will continue the progression to stick handing and basic hockey skills.  You should also take your child to 'Open Skate' at any of the rinks to give them more time on the ice to practice their skating.  There are many private skating coaches in the area as well. Private lessons can accelerate your child's learning, & help him/her to form good skating form & skill. To contact a private skating coach in your area, please call your local rink.
Ice hockey is dangerous, right?
NO!  Bicycles, basketball, football & roller sports top the list of eight recreational activities with the largest number of injuries among children. Ice hockey is not even listed!  This can be attributed to proper safety equipment & physical conditioning, but mostly due to the controlled ice surface. You will rarely see a knee injury, or the like, because if you get hit in the knee, you just fall down. No cleats to stick, no holes to hit, no bad bounces of balls. While there is always a chance of injury in ice hockey, here is the leader board for most injuries:

  • Bicycles
  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Roller sports
  • Playgrounds
  • Soccer
  • Baseball/softball
  • Trampolines

Isn't hockey just for boys?
Not at all! Female ice hockey is actually growing faster in numbers than its male counterpart. With the elimination of ALL body-checking in our recreational leagues beginning in 2013, the risk of injury is significantly reduced and the “fear factor” is eliminated.   Several girls play at every level of our program, from the 7U to the Varsity High School Division, & often are team leaders!
What are the age divisions in the Jr. Winterhawks?  They have funny names! 
The Jr. Hawks follow the USA Hockey Age Division classifications:

  • Mini-Mite Division (7U, ages 5-7)
  • Mite Division (8U, ages 6-8)
  • Squirt Division (10U, ages 9-10)
  • PeeWee Division (12U, ages 11-12)
  • Bantam Division (14U, ages 13-14)
  • Midget Division (18U, ages 15-18), includes the Winterhawks Varsity Hockey League (WVHL)

Where can I purchase ice hockey gear?
There are several shops in the Portland area to purchase ice hockey gear.

  • NW Skate Authority - Adjacent to rink at both Sherwood Ice Arena & Winterhawks Skating Center
  • Play-It-Again Sports – Next-door to Winterhawks Skating Center
  • On-line web sites

What hockey gear does my child need?
Your child will need the following hockey gear:

  • Hockey Helmet with Full Face Guard
  • Mouth Guard
  • Shoulder Pads
  • Elbow Pads
  • Hockey Gloves
  • Hockey Pants
  • Garter Belt or Hockey Shorts with Velcro
  • Sports Protective Cup
  • Hockey Socks
  • Shin Pads
  • Ice Hockey Skates
  • Hockey Stick
  • Practice Jersey
  • Neck Guard

*Note:  Much of this equipment can be found used, as children generally out-grow their equipment before they wear it out. Ask around, check posting boards & used sporting equipment stores for used equipment. PJW also hosts a GEAR SWAP in the Fall in conjunction with our Evaluation Days so that’s another great opportunity to get outfitted or trade-up for larger gear at the start of a new season! 

We also have loaner gear bags that are sized for 8U players, which include shoulder pads, hockey shorts, elbow & shin pads, gloves & a helmet--just need to pay a $50 deposit, which is refunded as a credit towards the next PJW season of play when bag is returned...contact admin@jrwinterhawks.com for details and to make arrangements for this option if your player could use these basics to get started (offer applies to registered players only). 
When does the season start & how long is it?
Each age division & level of competition is a bit different. There are two basic programs—a Recreational one (called “Metro”) & a Travel/Elite one that involves try-outs (called “Tier”).

  • Registration for both programs begins in June.
  • Travel/Elite teams host tryouts in May/June for the Midget levels, and over the first two weekends in August for 14U, 12U & 10U levels---these teams will begin practicing shortly after final rosters are set (tryouts extend for at least 3 days, and team rosters are posted after the final skate, with first cuts being made part-way through the scheduled ice times, as announced in advance).
  • All recreational/Metro League players 10U and above are evaluated in early September by our coaches.  Evaluations are used to balance skill levels and form even teams for the current season which begins the following weekend.
  • 8U players are not evaluated, but consideration is given to balance the 2 groups by ability, and therefore placement may differ from the group registered by age--many first year players in Mites are placed with the MIni-Mite group to increase their skating confidence going into the older Divisions. This age group begins play in early October and plays cross-ice games.
  • The regular Metro season will finish at the end of February (except for host tournaments for the 12U & 14U Divisions in early March); the Tier season will continue with post-season tournaments going as late as early April.
  • Although not sponsored by PJW, there is a Spring Hockey program for every age division offered through WSC (runs April-June) in addition to other private hockey clinics, camps & off-season training sessions offered throughout the greater Portland area, as well as rink-based learn-to-skate programs scheduled throughout the year.

How do I register my child to play with the Jr. Winterhawks?
You can now register online directly through the PJW website (separate registration periods will coincide with the various seasons/programs).  Check our website often for information on all our programs and offerings:  Portland Jr. Winterhawks
How can I as a parent get involved with the Jr. Winterhawks?
PJW welcomes your participation in the organization!  We feel that member participation is the best way to give your child a quality experience that builds players for life. Coaches are selected through an application process & must then be certified through USA Hockey.  Parents also serve as Team Managers, Off-Ice Officials, Jersey Parents & most staff volunteer positions during our Host Tournaments—we encourage all of our families to get involved & are grateful for your donated time & talents in every aspect of our organization!  Contact any of the Board members to see how you can help. 
The Portland Jr. Winterhawks support USA Hockey’s American Development Model ( ADM ).  In partnership with the National Hockey League, the ADM provides age-appropriate guidelines & curriculum to hockey associations across America to help more kids play, love & excel in hockey. We encourage our families to read about this highly regarded program that is based on sports science & an athletic development model used world-wide—it is focused on the age-appropriate development of our kids as athletes first so that they can develop their potential while having fun as they learn to play & love the game!   Check out their website here!  

USA Hockey also has a great resource guide to introduce new families to hockey...link here to their webpage encouraging you to "COME PLAY YOUTH HOCKEY!"