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House/REC Program FAQs

What is the difference between House Hockey, Travel Hockey and Select programs?

House/Recreational Hockey is a developmental weekend based hockey program for players ages 5-18. The purpose of House/Rec Hockey is to provide players with a fun, competitive experience where players can develop their game and advance to the next levels if they choose.  There are two House/Rec seasons: Winter (September through February) and Spring (April through June.) 

Travel Hockey and the High Performance program are competitive hockey programs for boys and girls ages 7-18.  Tryouts are required.  Travel Hockey provides players with the opportunity to play at a more competitive level than House / Rec Hockey.  Approximately half of a Travel Hockey team’s games are held at Prince William Ice Center and half of them are held at rinks throughout Virginia, Maryland and beyond.  Tryouts for Travel Hockey are held in May.  The Travel season runs from August to March. 

Recreational Tournament teams is an add-on program for House/Rec players desiring additional games at a more competitive level. Tournament Team's attend preselected weekend tournaments that are conducted during the Fall/Winter hockey season.  


When are the practices and games held?

House/Rec practices and games are conducted on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday).  For the younger age groups, the majority of time slots are in the morning ranging from 5:50a.m. to noon.  The older age groups (Bantams and Midgets) will often have games or practices in the afternoon or evening, rarely starting after 9pm.  Times are subject to change.

Will my child have a practice or game at 6 a.m.?

For our younger age groups, the answer is yes. To accommodate all of the various Patriots programs & teams these early ice times are necessary. Note some local programs utilize 0500 ice times. Every effort is made to rotate the time slots across the younger age groups and teams.

What are the age groups?

USA Hockey age groups are determined by birth year. For example in the 2017-2018 season the age groups are:




 U6 (Mini Mite)


 U8 (Mite)


 U10 (Squirt)


 U12 (Pee Wee)


 U14 (Bantam)


 U16 Midget


 U18 Midget


Why do I have to register with USA Hockey?

USA Hockey, Inc., is the National Governing Body for the sport of ice hockey in the United States. Its mission is to promote the growth of hockey in America and provide the best possible experience for all members by encouraging, developing, advancing and administering the sport.  Registration is free for U6 (mini-mite) aged players and $40 for all others.  A full list of membership benefits can be found here:  

Is my child ready for the House program?

This depends.  If your player is 5-8 yrs old and is currently enrolled, has completed or has already demonstrated skating and stick handling skills equivalent to level 2 in the Prince William Ice Center’s Learn to Play Hockey program, then your child is ready.  For players above the 8U age group, enrollment in or completion of level 4 of the Learn to Play Hockey Program is highly desired.  Exceptions to this requirement should be addressed to the House Director.  Our goal is for your child to have an enjoyable and enriching experience while developing his or her hockey skills. Also reference the "New to Hockey"/"What's after Learn to Play?" for additional information.

I taught my child how to skate – OR- My child played inline hockey….does he or she still need to participate in the Learn to Play Hockey Program?

That depends on the age of your child and the level of skill he or she has acquired so far.  See the above FAQ. The director of the Potomac Patriots Youth Hockey program or another club official can assess your child’s ability to compete at the appropriate age level. 

Now that we started playing in the House League, do we still need to continue with the Learn to Play Hockey Program?

It is highly recommended that your child continue the Learn to Play Hockey (LTPH) program until level four is completed.  The additional instruction from the LTPH program will augment the development he/she receives during the house program and will be better prepare your child for more competitive hockey at the older age groups as well as for travel hockey. 

Is checking and hitting allowed?

During the Winter Season, checking is allowed at the U14 (Bantam) and above age groups.  According to USA Hockey, the purpose of body checking in youth hockey is to separate the opponent from the puck. The purpose is not to intimidate, grind out or “make ‘em pay a price.” And it is certainly not to hurt anyone. This means that the right way also is the controlled way.  USA Hockey takes checking education so seriously that they developed a 148-page publication just to teach this skill to young players. 

What kind of equipment is provided?  What do I have to buy? 

Players must provide their own equipment.  All equipment must be ice hockey certified. Full equipment consists of: an HECC-approved helmet with full face shield or cage, mouth guard, shoulder pads, elbow pads, pants, shin guards, gloves, stick and hockey socks and hockey skates.  Males require an athletic cup. Females require a jill strap.  Equipment may be any color, but please note that all travel players are required to wear navy blue helmets and gloves.  Keep this in mind if you plan on transitioning from the house program to the travel program.  The club has a supply of loaner goalie gear for those who are interested in trying that position out.

I’m interested in coaching or helping out.  What do I need to do?

The Potomac Patriots requires that all on-ice coaches to go through USA Hockey’s certification process.  The club will reimburse coaches who successfully complete USA Hockey’s training program as well as for the required background check fees.  More information about USA Hockey’s certification program can be found here:

There are several ways parents can assist the club’s activities off-ice by volunteering as team managers, website management for their team, score keepers, penalty box attendant, pre- and post-game set-up and tear-down and other team activities. Contact your head coach or team manager for additional information.