Whether to participate on a house team, an independent team or a travel team is personal to each player and their family and depends on the experience of the player and the level of commitment the family is willing and ready to make to the sport of hockey.
House programs are generally for beginners or those players that want to give hockey a try before determining whether they want to fully commit to the sport. All games are generally played at one facility and the house program is the least expensive option with the lowest level of commitment. House programs work well for participants that are testing the hockey waters or are participating in other sports and are not yet ready to choose which sport they like best.
For the fall/winter season, there are approximately 15 games plus playoffs with one game played on the weekend. There are also approximately 2 practices a month. For the spring season, there are approximately 12 games plus playoffs but no practices. RHA participates in the Ice Vault’s house league in Wayne, New Jersey and has its practices at the Ice House Arena in Hackensack, New Jersey.
An independent program is the next step up from house league play. This program involves a greater level of commitment as there are more practices and games than a house program and games are played at various facilities. Independent programs are for those players that want a greater hockey experience than what a house program offers but are still not quite ready to commit to a full travel program. The financial and time commitment is approximately half of what a full travel program entails, but an independent program will provide participants with a taste of what travel hockey is like and help them decide whether they are ready to make the jump to a full travel program
RHA’s independent program includes approximately 25 games, 20 full-ice practices and a season-ending tournament. The NJ Rams play and practice out of the Ice Vault and Ice House arenas.
Travel hockey represents the highest level of commitment to youth hockey. Moreover, there are even various levels of commitment within the different levels of travel hockey.
Tier II hockey is generally the next step up from house league hockey or an independent team and consists of teams from the AA through B divisions. League games are played in New Jersey as part of the NJYHL – New Jersey Youth Hockey League – and the NJYHL divisions are established based upon regions – North, Central and Southern New Jersey. Accordingly, for teams in our area, games are generally played against other teams within a one-hour radius. Tier II teams also participate in tournaments, but not as many and not in as extreme locals as do Tier I teams. For Tier II travel programs, there are at least 25 games during the season with one to two games being played each weekend, two practices per week and participation in two tournaments. Tryouts for Tier II teams are competitive, but mostly respecting the Tier II division for which the player will be selected. For example, top Tier II players are selected for AA teams with other players being placed on A and B level teams depending on their level of skills development.
Tier I AAA is the most demanding level of youth hockey with more practices, games and tournaments than any other youth hockey level. League games for the USPHL and AYHL include teams in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Tournaments are played throughout Canada, New England and the Mid-West in cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, Chicago, Detroit and Rochester. For Tier I hockey there are at least 45 games during the season with two games being played each weekend, three practices per week and participation in at least four tournaments. Tryouts for AAA teams are extremely competitive with only the top youth players being selected.