Our quest to unveil the best youth hockey association and club websites on the global Sport Ngin platform indeed took us into some rarefied air.
We twice scaled the Rocky Mountains, twice landed in the hockey hotbed that is Minnesota and took a wholly unexpected stop in central Illinois in assembling our top 5.
Sport Ngin’s foundation was built on the objective of making lives easier for youth hockey administrators juggling a dizzying array of tasks. Years later, there are hundreds and hundreds of hockey association and club sites on the platform, and many of them are superb in both design and content.
We graded more than a dozen of the top youth hockey sites on the platform, assigning points in categories such as Design, Navigation, Content, Team Pages, History, Alumni and more. The sites that rose to the top were the ones that coupled a clean, concise home page design (making for a striking first impression) with the greatest depth and variety of content.
Location: Greater Colorado Springs, Monument and Castle Rock areas of Colorado
Webmaster: Ed Blach
The Colorado Rampage hockey club was founded in 2002 by Schenectady, N.Y., native Andrew Sherman. The club has recreation, Tier 2 and Tier 1 teams from Mites to Under-18 and has a membership of about 275 players ranging in age from 4 to 18. Sherman, the longest tenured 18U coach in the Rocky Mountain Region, has never had a losing season. His teams are 346-198-56 since 2002.
The home page design features the obligatory mountain photo in the background (this is Colorado, after all) and incorporates images of standout former players. The Players of the Week feature in the home page news aggregator showcases Mite, Squirt, Pee Wee and Bantam players complete with headshots and is one-of-a-kind (we didn’t find any other site that recognizes its players this way).
Buttons labeled Pay Season Fees, Tryouts and Camps & Clinics are placed high on the home page and serve as a great secondary navigation. There should be no problem finding a particular team, as a tab element on the home page incorporates links to all the club’s Tier 2, Tier 1 and House teams.
Scores, schedules and rosters are available for most of the top-level teams, and statistics are also available for some teams thanks to direct links to the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association site.
The attractive About page offers a quick summary of the size and scope of the program and lists its affiliations with various state, regional and national leagues and governing bodies. Included in the About section is a Rampage History page that tells the story of Sherman’s background and why he started the club. The Alumni page lists former players dating to 2003 who have gone on to play at the junior, college and pro levels.
University of Denver junior Grant Arnold, a Rampage alum, is one of the Pioneers’ captains, won a junior hockey championship in the USHL with the Green Bay Gamblers and, as a baseball player, participated in the 2003 and 2004 Little League World Series.
Most of the coaching staff pages for the club’s AAA programs include bios and photos of the head coaches.
Location: Springfield, Ill.
Webmaster: Grant Hammer
Springfield, located about 100 miles northeast of St. Louis and 219 miles southwest of Chicago, has a population of about 116,000 and is the largest city in central Illinois. Although not known as a hockey town, membership is booming Springfield's youth hockey association that has learn-to-play members all the way up to Midget AAA.
Hammer said one of his main goals when setting up the website was to create a professional, positive and lasting first impression. He achieved that through his clean, modular design that includes an appealing mix of photos, graphics and news aggregators.
The top navigation is simple and clearly labeled. The About category is home to several important pages, including those that house information about the association’s mission, rules and bylaws.
We sampled several team pages at various age levels and all of them had complete rosters (with headshots) as well as schedules updated with scores. The Midget AA team even had season statistics.
A minimalist overview page leads into a similarly clean mission page and then on to a history page that has two rotating slideshows loaded with photos of vintage jerseys, team photos, medals and other memorabilia.
Springfield Youth Hockey celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011.
A Hockey 101 page provides newcomers to the game a quick introduction of rink dimensions, positions on a team and basic rules.
Location: Lakeville, Minn.
Webmasters: Chad Langhorst, Sara Rasmussen
Lakeville is southern suburb of Minneapolis and St. Paul that splits its association into north and south teams that feed into Lakeville’s North and South high school programs.
The distinctive colorful design that pays equal homage to the North mascot (a panther) and South mascot (a cougar) -- “Two Cats, One City” is the slogan on one of the association’s logos.
There are plenty of link options in the subnavigation in the left rail, with registration holding down the top spot.
A mixed bag here, with some pages filled out with coach information, rosters with photos and updated scores. Others were missing various levels of content.
The history section is a work in progress for Lakeville hockey historian Marcus Anderson. He has set up a two non-monetary registrations as he attempts to source stories and recollections from former players and collect Lakeville hockey-related memorabilia. Multiple tables have been created to list former association players and where they have gone on to play.
Jordan Schroeder, a speedy forward for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, grew up playing in the Lakeville youth hockey system.
The history page includes video highlights of Lakeville South’s stunning 2012 upset of No. 1-ranked and heavily favored Duluth East in the quarterfinals of the wildly popular state high school tournament.
Location: Maple Ridge, British Columbia
Webmaster: Roxanne Reid
The Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association is based out of the eastern Vancouver suburb of Maple Ridge. The association also has a home rink in nearby Pitt Meadows.
Count the distinctive red and white home design as another that incorporates mountains (we love mountains!) in the home page background. The content on the home page is smartly organized, avoiding the all-too-common practice of using it as a dumping ground for all of the site’s content.
The top navigation works well in the conjunction with the sub nav in the left rail, where the top links include Calendar, Media and Events.
Rosters were filled out and scores were entered for several teams, but several teams had only the basic information.
The Info section of the site includes basic information about the program – costs for playing at various levels and rink locations.
Winnipeg Jets star Andrew Ladd, who was born in Maple Ridge, is listed prominently as one of Ridge Meadows’ sponsors.
Aggregators on the home page include an array of instructional videos and photo galleries.
Location: Stillwater, Minn.
Webmaster: Doug Biever
The simple, understated design that puts an emphasis on the horse (Stillwater’s mascot is the Ponies) jumping through a horseshoe. Go ahead and swipe your cursor over the leaping pony – voila, it not only lights up but seems to be shooting a laser beam out of its eye. Awesome! Seriously, we’re big fans of clean, neat home page designs, and this site fits that description to a T.
All the links are bundled in the top navigation, where links labeled Association, Teams and Resources take the lead.
Many of the teams don’t have complete roster information, and complete results were logged on only a handful of teams’ schedules. On the positive side, the Stillwater boys’ and girls’ varsity pages are mirrored from the Minnesota Hockey Hub and have complete roster, schedule and statistical information.
Big area of opportunity here, and the hockey association doesn’t have to look far for examples on how to gather and post this category of content. The outstanding Stillwater High School football site is loaded with historical information.
In 2014 Stillwater’s varsity boys’ team reached the immensely popular state hockey tournament for the first time in the program’s history.
The Tournaments section of the site provides detailed information on the multiple tournaments hosted by the association.
Here are more outstanding sites that were in the final judging mix but didn't crack the Top 5.
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