What Is an AAA Hockey Team and How Are They Different?

What Is an AAA Hockey Team and How Are They Different?

AAA Hockey Teams

With so many different hockey terms out there, it’s hard to know what is what. For example, many junior teams play what’s commonly referred to as midget hockey in minor hockey. Nevertheless, there are clear definitions for each hockey term, so don’t be put off by all the variations.

AAA hockey is the highest level in minor hockey and refers to teams with top minor hockey players aged 9 - 18. The AAA teams are divided into groups by age, such as Squirt (9 -10), Peewee (11 - 12), Bantam (13 - 14), Midget Minor 16 and Under, and Midget Major 18 and Under.

The following article contains information about what a AAA hockey team is and how those teams are different from others. I will also look at what minor hockey is and what other types of hockey teams there are.

What Is A AAA Hockey Team?

A AAA hockey team is a minor hockey team and can involve players from one of several age groups. AAA teams are at the highest skill level in youth hockey, but not as skilled as elite hockey players who play in the National Hockey League (NHL).

Kids on school hockey teams move up to AAA once they’re good enough, but playing on an AAA team is a huge commitment. You can find out more about this in our article looking into if travel hockey is worth it.

YourTV Quinte has an excellent video of an AAA cup match here:

What Is Minor Hockey?

Minor hockey is another term for youth or junior hockey. However, the minor hockey leagues are solely contained within minor hockey, as there are some external private teams and leagues.

Minor hockey is open to all children, from the under-8s to the under-18s. Kids play exclusively with other kids their age, within a one or two-year margin, so you don’t have to worry about your little eight-year-old playing with heavily-built teenagers.

Levels of Minor Hockey

With so many levels and kids of broad age ranges, it’s challenging to know who plays in which tier. However, the levels have distinct names that are reasonably easy to remember. Very young children might play in Mini-Mite teams instead of the usual Mite teams.

There are eight levels of minor hockey, as follows:

  1. Mite: 8-year-olds and younger (no AAA teams)
  2. Squirt: 9-10-year-olds (AAA teams)
  3. Peewee: 11-12-year-olds (AAA teams)
  4. Bantam: 13-14-year-olds (AAA teams)
  5. Midget Minor 16 and under: 15-16-year-olds (AAA teams)
  6. Midget Major 18 and under: 15-18-year-olds (AAA teams)
  7. Junior hockey: 16-20-year-olds (AAA teams)

More details about these age groups can be found in our article describing the different minor hockey levels.

What Is Junior Hockey?

High school students can play in minor hockey, and although there are some AAA teams, most of these players play at the junior hockey level or high school hockey. The older players might also play in the United States Hockey League (USHL), but they can play in house or travel teams as well.

Differences Between AAA Hockey and Other Types of Hockey

There are two significant differences in AAA hockey teams compared with other types of teams:

  • The players will be under 20 years old: All AAA teams are made up of minor or junior hockey players, and they will not be older than 20.
  • The players are the absolute best in their age group: AAA is the highest level youth hockey teams play, so the AAA teams are the best youth players available.

However, AAA hockey teams don’t compete in international competitions, and the players are not quite at the elite level. Elite teams play at the NHL and Winter Olympic level.

How Is AAA Hockey Different From Elite Hockey?

There are several differences between AAA hockey and elite hockey. It might help to think of elite teams as the Olympic and NHL players, and AAA teams as the minor hockey teams with younger players, such as Peewee hockey.

  • AAA players don’t travel abroad to compete. In elite hockey, the teams regularly play international matches and may sometimes travel abroad to train. AAA hockey teams don’t do this.

  • Elite players are much more skilled. The elite teams play at the Olympic level and are the most skilled hockey players. AAA players are talented hockey players, but not quite at the same level as the elite teams. Primarily, this is because the players in AAA teams are very young and still learning.

  • Elite players have a vast audience, and many people watch their games. The elite teams compete in National Hockey League (NHL) matches and the Winter Olympics, both of which are hugely popular worldwide. AAA teams usually play against other teams of a similar age, and their games are unlikely to be televised.

  • AAA teams don’t move their players to an elite team, but an elite team might move their players to affiliated minor AAA teams. Sometimes, an elite team will move a player to a connected minor AAA team, if they do not perform at an elite level. Elite teams may be affiliated with a AAA team due to sharing a similar location, making it easier to transfer players there. However, most AAA players cannot be assigned to elite teams due to age.

We cover more of these differences in our article titled “What Are the Main Differences Between Elite and AAA Hockey“.

What Other Types of Hockey Are There?

Aside from the minor and junior hockey teams, there are girls’ and women’s’ teams, major leagues, and minor leagues.

The girls’ teams have different age classifications than boys’ teams, and the women compete in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).

In adult hockey, there are several minor leagues, including:

Some of the major league competitions include the NHL, Big Six Hockey, the World Cup, and the Winter Olympics.

How Do I Start Playing Ice Hockey?

The first thing you need to do is contact your nearest ice rink. They will tell you if they have amateur or adult teams and how you can start playing. If you’ve never skated before, you’ll probably have to complete a skating course before you can start playing hockey.

Next, you’ll need to check that the team you want to join plays at the right level for you. If they’re playing at a highly-skilled level and you’ve never played before, it probably won’t work.

You’ll also want to find out the details of their training schedule, as many adult ice sports train late at night or even in the early hours. If you like your sleep or have a busy professional life, hockey might not be for you.

Some ice rinks run learn-to-play sessions, where you can borrow equipment and have a go at some hockey without committing to anything or spending a lot of money.

If you’re considering taking up ice hockey, you’ll need to budget, as you will need a lot of safety equipment, which doesn’t come cheap. Try and locate a second-hand kit, if you can, as this is an excellent way to save money and recycle.

If you’re interested in trying ice hockey for yourself or already play, we recommend these Elite Hockey Skate Guards from Amazon to protect your skate blades. They come in a wide range of colours and sizes, and the external fabric is water-resistant. The skate guards also have a rubber base for more comfortable walking.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we explained what a AAA hockey team is and how it is different from other types of hockey teams. We also looked at the different levels of minor hockey and provided information on junior hockey. The article also offers advice on starting to play ice hockey and the various minor and major leagues that adult players participate in, such as the NHL or the Olympics.