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Welcome to Bruins Academy Learn to Play!
by posted 09/22/2019

Hello, Bruins Academy Learn to Play families —

On behalf of Cape Ann Youth Hockey and the Boston Bruins, I am excited to welcome you to the start of the Bruins Academy program. This welcome email contains important information about what to expect for your child’s first hockey experience, as well as contact information and other key details to prepare everyone for Bruins Academy, which will run for 4 consecutive weeks beginning on Saturday, October 12th

About the program

Cape Ann Youth Hockey is a non-profit USA Hockey-registered community hockey organization for boys and girls from Gloucester and Rockport, with a long-standing tradition of supporting hockey players learn to love the game! Whether you are a resident of one of our towns or a guest from another area, we are honored to have you join us for this exciting program and we are thrilled to help your child take his or her first strides on the ice.

The program will be run by several of our experienced coaches, high school student coaches and other players.  My name is Kristin Michel, and I am a CAYH Director and long-time developmental hockey volunteer and coach; you can reach me by email at or 978-290-6035 (after business hours) if you have any specific questions about Bruins Academy not already outlined here, or any other general questions. I and other CAYH board members will be among the coaches helping out at the sessions both on and off the ice.

At the rink

Dorothy Talbot Rink is located at 32 Cherry Street, Gloucester, MA adjacent to O'Maley Middle School. You will find parking available along the front of the building (please make note of parking signs and park in designated areas only) and  behind the facility as well.  The dressing rooms are in the lower level of the rink.  The players will be able to change and then leave their bags in the rooms while they skate.

There are plenty of stands for spectators at Talbot Rink.  For safety reasons, we ask that you to stay out of the team bench areas during the sessions. Likewise, no one besides players and coaches will be allowed on the ice.  Players should not take the ice until instructed by the coaches.  All players and volunteers must wear helmets at all times when on the ice. 

Getting ready

You must have your skates sharpened before the first clinic!  Skates arrive unsharpened, your child will not be able to participate without sharpening their skates. A few places on the North Shore to get skate sharpening are Todd’s Sporting Goods in Beverly or Pure Hockey in Danvers. 

Be sure to clearly write your child’s name on all of the equipment and the gear bag — all players will have the same equipment, so with no markings it’ll be nearly impossible to keep the gear straight when everyone’s getting changed.  Helmet stickers with player names will be provided by CAYH. 

If your child hasn’t yet tried putting on the equipment, we recommend you get dressed at least once before the first session. If you have any questions about how all that gear goes on, USA Hockey has a great video you can reference at

Please be at the rink approximately 30-40 minutes early so your child has enough time to dress. We have 39 players registered, and we expect it to be somewhat hectic as all of our first-time players get ready and get on the ice.

On the ice

As soon as the ice resurfacing is complete and the doors are closed, the players will be directed by the coaches to take the ice. On the first day, we’ll give them some time to skate around and try to get a feel for all that new gear before we break them into smaller groups.

The skills focus of Bruins Academy is to get the players comfortable on their skates, so they can move around on their own, pick themselves up when they fall, and feel confident in their ability to play hockey. Leveraging the methods we apply in our Instructional program, we’ll use a mix of games and other drills, with a progressive approach that we intend will ensure a fun experience for all the players. We plan to wrap up the final session with cross-ice scrimmage games to they can apply their newfound skills to playing ‘real’ hockey.

Don’t be surprised to see some tears of frustration along the way, and don’t be surprised to hear their skates are too tight or their helmet doesn’t fit right — wearing all that equipment and being in a hockey practice for the first time is a big step, and even children with some experience with pond hockey or open skating can have trouble making that big step.

Learning to skate is not easy and sometimes the players get so frustrated that they want to get off the ice and talk to their parents, but our coaches will do the best they can to reassure the players and encourage them to stay on the ice if they do get upset. 

What comes next?

The Boston Bruins’ reason for starting this program is simple: They want more players to try playing hockey without the inhibiting factors of cost and time commitment.

CAYH’s reason for supporting Bruins Academy is equally simple: We love to introduce new players to hockey, and the sweaty heads and big smiles we see when players come off the ice is wholeheartedly gratifying.

At the end of Bruins Academy, whether or not you’re a resident of our towns, CAYH would be glad to have you join one of our introductory skating and hockey programs.  Learn to Skate will begin on October 19th and Cape Ann Cross Ice will begin on November 16th; we also can put you in contact with representatives of your area’s town hockey program, if you’d rather participate in one of their programs. We’ll have more information as Bruins Academy progresses.  If you have a question about which program is appropriate for your player, we will be happy to assess their progress and provide you with our recommendation after the first session. 

In any case, we have 39 players registered for Bruins Academy, and we hope all 39 are skating somewhere this season!


We know that’s a lot to digest in one email, but if you have any other questions, concerns or recommendations, please feel free to reach out to me.

Otherwise, we’ll see you at the rink on October 12th. Be sure to take lots of photos and video over these first few weeks.  Looking back at these videos a year or two or more down the road will leave you shaking your head in pleasant disbelief.

Please visit our website at www.capeannyouthhockey for more information about our programs and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

See you at the rink!

Kristin Michel

CAYH Director

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