At the NSWC, one of the biggest benefits for our hockey players, aside from our unrivaled Minor Hockey and seasonal developmental programs, is our ability to offer Open Ice.
Below is a great article done by Thomas Drance, of The Athletic, with a great example of what Open Ice can be used for.
The article is locked, as The Athletic is a paid subscription-based site ($1/month).
Yes, Open Hockey is a time for kids to have fun and be kids, start a game of pick-up3-on-3 with their buddies, work on their skills, and just enjoy and fall in love with the game of hockey. However, it can also be a time to learn from others and learn on their own in an unstructured format. We are very fortunate to be in an enriching environment that loves hockey. When players are able to compete with/against each other and can watch better skilled players, they naturally get better. It is improvement by osmosis.
Here is another great article on the importance of playing unorganised hockey and being a creative hockey player: