The New Jersey Devils Youth Hockey Club is committed to delivering the most comprehensive youth hockey programs available to all youth of all ages. The scope and depth of out programs is second to none in creating an atmosphere that will: foster player self-confidence, develop high self-esteem, and build strong character. We provide the most qualified professional staff available to instruct out players and offer state of the art programs that are designed for youth to learn and play the sport of ice hockey. The organization offers a complete range of ice hockey programs from the beginners entry level to the highly competitive AAA USA Hockey Sanctioned level. All of our programs, regardless of level, are structured to provide players with the latitude for individual growth that will enable each participant to reach his or her maximum potential as an individual and help to prepare him or her to succeed in life's competitive environment. The cornerstone and driving principle of this organization is our Commitment to Youth.
The New Jersey Devils Youth Hockey Club is dedicated to providing ice hockey programs that are focused on helping youth of all ages and skill levels to learn the values of teamwork, sportsmanship, commitment, self-esteem, discipline and responsibility. The underlying goal of our Program, is to promote and instill these fundamental values within each individual to last for a lifetime.
The origins of the Club date back to July 15, 1974, when the “Essex Rocket All Stars Hockey Club” was formed. The Essex Rocket All Stars Hockey Club skated teams out of two Essex County operated rinks located in Branch Brook Park and South Mountain Arena. In December 1975, the Club moved to the Totowa Ice World in Totowa, New Jersey. The Club changed its name to the “New Jersey Rockets” on January 27, 1976, in conjunction with the move to the then new ice arena in Totowa. Beginning with the 1984-1985 season, the New Jersey Rockets and the New Jersey North Stars began a joint operation in the Totowa Ice Arena. The New Jersey North Stars was a thirteen year old Morris County youth hockey club which had skated its teams in the Mennen-Livingston Hunt Club and then in the Mennen Arena in Morris County after it opened in 1977. The two clubs jointly operated clinics and house leagues and skated Tier I travel teams in the Atlantic Hockey League as the “New Jersey Rockets” and Tier II teams in the New Jersey Youth Hockey League as the “New Jersey North Stars” for the 1984-1985 and 1985-1986 seasons. When the Totowa Ice Arena closed at the end of the 1985-1986 season, the Club moved its operations to Bayonne High School Rink and South Mountain Arena for the 1986-1987 season. The Club skated six New Jersey Rocket teams that season at both the Tier I and Tier II levels in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League and in the now defunct Garden State Youth Hockey League. The New Jersey North Stars became inactive at the end of the 1985-1986 Season.
In the 1970’s, the Essex County Chiefs skated youth hockey teams out of Branch Brook Park and South Mountain Arena. After the former Essex Rocket All Stars moved to Totowa, the Essex County Chiefs continued to operate youth hockey teams out of the two locations until Branch Brook Park was closed and the second ice surface was built at South Mountain Arena in 1986. The Essex County Parks Department employed an ice hockey director during the same time period to operate house leagues, clinics, and a summer hockey school. The Essex County Chiefs continued to skate at South Mountain and had the majority of the available travel team ice time at South Mountain Arena through the end of the 1986-1987 season.
In early 1987, the Essex County Parks Department terminated the hockey director position as a cost saving measure. Shortly thereafter the Club reached an agreement with the Essex County Parks Department for the New Jersey Rockets to assume responsibility for operating the clinics, house leagues, spring leagues and summer hockey school previously operated by the Essex County Hockey Director. In return, the Club was permitted to purchase additional ice time for its travel teams and Parks Department encouraged the Essex County Chiefs to merge their travel team program with the New Jersey Rockets program.
On June 29, 1987, the New Jersey Rockets “merged” with the Essex County Chiefs. The Essex County Chiefs became inactive and the Club’s name was changed to the “New Jersey Arrows Hockey Club.” During the 1987-1988 season, the Club skated teams under the names and colors of the “New Jersey Arrows” and the “New Jersey Rockets.”
Other than the names and colors, the design and markings on the travel team uniforms were the same.
In September of 1988, the Club obtained permission from the New Jersey Devils to use its National Hockey League name, logo and colors. As a result, the Club changed its name to the “New Jersey Devils Youth Hockey Club” on September 13, 1988. Beginning with the 1988-1989 season, the Club skated all its teams using the New Jersey Devils name, logo and colors.
The Junior Rockets were one of the original franchise owners of the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League which was established in 1978. The league was a junior hockey league and shortly after it was established, the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League merged into the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League. Several members of the Mid-Atlantic Hockey League, including the Club, formed the Atlantic Youth Hockey League to provide a competitive youth level program for the elite players. In 1980, U.S.A. Hockey initiated a then pilot program to create two distinct levels of play, which would allow both levels to compete for a National Championship at each age classification. The levels were designated “Tier I” and “Tier II,” and the Atlantic Amateur Hockey Association designated the Atlantic Youth Hockey League as the Atlantic District’s Tier I league for the highest level of competition.
The Junior Rockets skated Junior B teams out of Totowa Ice World in conjunction with the Club’s youth hockey programs through the 1985-1986 season. When Totowa Ice World closed after the 1985-1986 season, the Junior Rockets became inactive. In 1994, the Club purchased the Junior Rockets franchise from Ken Gesner for $8,500.00. In June of 1995, the Club “traded” franchise names with the Junior Devils franchise, and in addition acquired ownership of the Junior Devils, Inc., prior to the former Junior Devils owners’ selling the newly named Junior Rockets franchise. The Club again added a Junior B team to its program for the 1995-96 season and skated Junior B teams through the 1999-2000 season when the decision was made to discontinue skating teams at the Junior level. The decision was made largely due to the U.S.A. Hockey age changes and the competition with the Club’s Midget AAA program. The Club has decided this year to reactivate our Junior B team for the 2003 – 2004 season, which is being coached by Tom Wisloff and managed by John Stack.
The Club is currently one of the largest youth hockey organizations in the state of New Jersey sanctioned by the governing body of hockey in the United States, USA Hockey. The Club is also one of the oldest youth hockey organizations in the Atlantic District, having been in continuous operation since 1974. Our program has been the most successful program from the Atlantic District competing at the U.S.A. Hockey National level. The Club’s teams won U.S.A. Hockey National Championships in the Junior B Division in 1980; in the Tier I 14-and-under Division (Bantam AAA) in 1985, 1986 and 2001; and in Tier I 12-and-under Division (Pee Wee AAA) in 2002. In addition, our Bantam AAA team won the Silver Medal in the Tier I 14-and-under Division in 1999, our Midget AAA team won the Bronze Medal in the Tier I 17-and-under Division in 2001, and our Bantam AAA team won a Bronze Medal in the Tier I 14-and-under division in 2003.
The Club has a proud tradition and takes pride in its years of excellence and accomplishments in all of its programs.
The Club operates men’s travel teams as well as running house leagues all year round (except the month of July), spring clinics and an annual Summer hockey school in conjunction with the Huron Hockey Club of Batavia, Illinois. Since the Essex County “privatized” the ice hockey programs at South Mountain Arena, the Club has substantially and successfully expanded all of the programs that already existed as well as having initiated new programs. At the present time, the programs at all levels, including travel teams, Fall and Spring clinics, house leagues and the Summer hockey school are running at capacity. The Club is also actively involved in the U.S.A. Hockey Sled Hockey program and Special Hockey International. Since 1986, the Club has more than doubled the ice time purchased for youth hockey programs, and the Club is constantly searching for more ice time so that we can continue meet the needs of the youth of the area.