Welcome to the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend tracker on 11/12 October 2014. We keep you updated here with events in 30 countries. The result will be a collection of images and reports from a weekend full of fun for girls all over the world. The stories will be posted in chronological order as we get them with the newest ones on top. Thousands of girls will take part of this global campaign.
There will also be many more pictures in our photo gallery on Facebook where you can help women's hockey by sharing them. You can also follow our activities on Twitter, please use the hashtag #WGIHW for your tweets about the event.
NOTE: The dates for next year are 10/11 October 2015.
Great Britain: Dumfries
British hockey has always had a strong Scottish accent and now the women's game is starting to develop north of the border. After launching the country's only women's team earlier this month, the Solway Sharks of Dumfries were eager to give more local ladies a chance to try out the game during World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend. And there's more to come, with the Shark Tank due to stage the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship Division II Group A in April. Dumfries wasn't the only UK rink involved with the weekend - the National Ice Centre in Nottingham also joined in the celebrations. Find out more in our British feature.
40 participants including walk-in came to Singapore’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event at the ice rink at JCube in Jurong East.
The full-size ice rink was used to set up five fun stations where each group spent about 10 to 15 minutes. The groups were done depending their skating abilities.
“Everyone loved it and they asked when will be the next such event. The parents were very supportive and hope to have more events for their girls,” said Diane Foo of the Singapore Ice Hockey Federation.
“Our national team players had a good time as well. This was our first time hosting the event and we never expected to see so many female participants who are interested to try ice hockey. We hope there are more of these events to come along so that more female participants will go into this sport. It’s a good opportunity to recruit more female player to participate in the sport.”
The Women’s Ice Hockey Organization in Hong Kong staged the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event on Sunday at Mega Ice in the MegaBox shopping mall at Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong’s full-size ice rink.
No less than 115 people were part of the event including eight organizers from the women’s national team, 18 additional women’s national team players, four more players from the league and 85 new players including 46 of the age group 3-10, nine between 11-18 and 30 adults.
Despite 30°C in Hong Kong’s warm air, so many female players came to the 10th floor of this mall for the coolest game on earth.
The national team members helped the newcomers from the registration desks to getting equipment to being instructed on the ice and national team head coach Hiroki Wakabayashi and assistant coach Anqi Tan led the sessions with the ice split into three areas for beginners to advanced players. The evening ended with a group photo and balloons for all girls.
“The overall atmosphere from both the kids and their parents throughout the evening was filled with fun and enthusiasm. It was ever so rewarding to see the smiles,” said committee member and women’s national team GM Kevin Leung
“The younger girls definitely had a lot of fun. Some were a little hesitant at first but after a short time seeing their friends on the ice skating around they too were soon having a great time. It felt like a media red carpet event with all the parents pressed up against the glass with their photo and video cameras.”
This year the organizers reached capacity limit and had to stop registration and extending the event to two days was not an option due to the high prices for ice time in Hong Kong.
“This event is an amazing way to promote the sport of ice hockey to the community. The fact that this event took place in a mall also really helped advertise the sport in general,” Leung said. “Also the media reaction was positive and helped reinforce that female players can participate in this sport too and it is not only a fun game but also quite safe with the proper instructions.”
A World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend took place in Spain in Majadahonda in the Madrid region to co-inside with the start of the season in the women’s hockey league in which SAD Majadahonda won its two games against newly created Asme Barcelona Ice Cats 2-1 and 3-0.
The girls’ day part at the rink brought together 80 participants who performed skills test and played hockey for the first time ever.
Romania: Miercurea Ciuc
Due to a decline in female players, Romania hasn’t played in the Women’s World Championship since 2011. The last national team captain, Kinga Koncsag, is now a coach and works on increasing participation in her hometown of Miercurea Ciuc and elsewhere. We talked with her for our featured story.
Few rivalries in hockey match the one between the teams in Rauma and Pori on the Finnish west coast. Almost exactly halfway between Rauma and Pori, there's Panelia, a small village that's 44 minutes from Pori, and 41 from Rauma, according to Google Maps.
But the girls hockey weekend is not about rivalries. Not even little bit.
"We are going to organize this event every year. Last year we had over ten new participants. You never know how many participants will come," says Tanja Raitanen, manager of the smallest girls' team.
This year, there were ten small players, aged between six and eleven, and five instructors, including Raika Panelia's own Laura Hakala (who, by the way, chose to play for Lukko) and Team Finland's Eveliina Suonpää.
However, most of the girls were from Raika Panelia's girls' team, with just one girl trying out hockey for the first time.
"After the skate, Laura and Eveliina signed the players' practice shirts or helmets, handed out cards wih their autographs, a diploma and a bracelet.
"Everybody had fun, that was the most important thing," says Raitanen.
If there's one common theme with all World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend events across the globe, it's this: "The girls and parents were smiling the whole day."
Those are the words of Ville Lehmus, girls' team coach in Orivesi, Finland, when he's talking about his Fortuna Hockey's event.
"We had 21 participants, eleven of whom were beginners. The girls were between three and 14, the bigges group was the one with the 5-6-year-olds. We also had six instructors on the ice, including Ilves Tampere's national team player Anna Kilponen, Tappara Tampere's Henna Kivekäs and Minna Halonen, who's a former Team Finland goalie," Lehmus says.
During the one-hour ice session, the girls played games, had skill competitions and learned to score goals. Afterwards, they had drinks and cookies in the rink cafeteria - coffee for the parents - while they were given more information about girls hockey and Fortuna.
Then it was time to hand out the diplomas and the GHD bracelets.
"We hope to get some new girls to our girls' hockey group. We have nine girls in the group now," says Lehmus.
It was a long day in Östhammar, Sweden, where girls went to hockey school, girls’ teams challenged boys’ teams and everything ended with a disco for the girls and women participating in the event. Read in our featured story what Östhammars SK coach Joachim Lindström said.
Geneva hosted one of the bigger World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in Europe with 81 participants – including 30 who tried hockey for the first time. This time the event was staged at the big rink at Vernets where Geneve-Servette plays its home games of the National League A and the Champions Hockey League.
Most of the girls who accepted the invitation to try hockey were between 15 and 20 years old but there were also younger ones down to six-year-olds and adults up to the age of 57, some of them mothers who wanted to try hockey themselves too rather than just watching their daughters.
It was a day-long event that started with the registration and group assignments before the participants got a tour through the rink and were able to see the locker room of the men’s professional team that later, after getting equipment, was represented on the ice by U20 national team player Noah Rod and Tim Traber, who joined the coaches, ambassadors Yan Gigon and Vanessa Plante, and female players Kaleigh Quennec and Ophélie Ryser to instruct the participants.
After the 75-minute ice sessions the girls went back to change before joining the autograph session, getting a Swiss raclette meal and exchange experiences on their exciting day.
“The reactions and comments were all encouraging, whether it was compliments for the organization or a thank you for making female ice hockey possible and accessible for girls and women of any age. They also appreciated the behind-the-scenes tour to see a professional team’s life,” said Ksenia Fliguil of Genève Futur Hockey.
“Many girls and women have asked about the possibilities to attend beginner courses to hockey. This is a new program that we are introducing this year on our communal outside rinks,” she said.
With a population of less than 600,000 inhabitants Macau, one of two Special Administrative Regions of China along with Hong Kong, which also hosted an event, is one of the smallest IIHF members but it tries hard to keep up with other smaller Asian nations in international competitions and shows its readiness to grow with 25 new female players who tried hockey during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
We talked with the general secretary of the Macau Ice Hockey Federation, John Ng, in our featured story.
Four of the ten girls who participated in HC Wettern's girls' event at Kungsvalla rink in Vadstena, Sweden had never played hockey before, and two of them - both ten years old - said they'd be back for the club's girls' hockey school. That's a pretty impressive conversion rate.
"I hope we got four new girls to our club, and that the event did shed some light on hockey as a viable sports alternative for girls, too," says Helena Skoglund, who runs the hockey school at HC Wettern.
Women’s ice hockey is rather young in Turkey. It is believed that the Middle East Technical University started the first program in 2005 when a group of girls wanted to switch from ice skating to hockey and in 2006 a women’s league was founded and one year later the women’s national team formed for the first time.
Nowadays the age when girls start to play hockey is going down also thanks to the annual recruitment event as part of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. This will increase the foundation of Turkish women’s hockey.
This year’s event took place on Sunday at the Bahcelievler Ice Rink in Ankara and 100 participants came who were between the age of 5 and 18. They got their t-shirts and warmed up in the fresh air before going to the ice where local players, some of them pioneers who started to play hockey in their teenage years, helped the newcomers.
At the end an exhibition games between players from Turkish women’s teams was played.
“The participants were excited with the event. The female players were aware of the importance of the event. The parents and kids had fun all day long,” said Kemal Burkay Altuntas.
“We believe it was good advertisement of ice hockey for girls because we invited many girls from schools who had never heard about hockey before. They came with their family and they were smiling. Some of them said they will keep skating and they took information from players and coaches.”
23 young girls between the age of 3 and 13 took part in the girls’ event in Narvik. At Nordkraft Arena they got their helmets and gear for a one-hour ice session that ended with juice, food and diplomas. The event was also covered by the local newspaper.
"We walked on ice, and played around a lot. You could tell some of the girls were beginners, but many of them could skate and they were more confident," Vibece Nakis, one of the instructors, told Fremover.
"The skill levels weren't important. What was important was that everyone was having fun," she added.
“The girls were having fun and the parents were very satisfied with arrangement. I think the girls will come back for the skating and hockey school,” said Karen Enevoldsen, who is coaching the women’s Division I team of Narvik.
The country of the next Olympic Winter Games also held its annual World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event. 30 girls and women from the U10 category to adults came to the Mokdong rink in Seoul to get their hockey gear and meet their instructors. One coach and ten players of the women’s national team came to the rink to assist the players in three groups depending on their skill level.
The beginners started with skating lessons while the intermediate-level group went on with sticks and puck and the advanced group had a game. After the events the girls had the chance to take pictures with the players, their new friends and gifts.
“The girls enjoyed the time with their new friends on the ice and their parents were happy to see their daughters play hockey. Many parents and participants asked me whether the Korea Ice Hockey Association will have the same event next year. They are already excited about the 2015 World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend,” said YeunHwa Hong of the Korea Ice Hockey Association.
“It is a great opportunity for girls to make hockey friends and build their network in women’s hockey. I believe these networks will help recruit more players and develop girls’ hockey in the near future,” Hong added.
“They appreciated the opportunity to have fun on the ice and with the national team players. The parents showed big interest in the event and were happy to hear that it takes place in so many countries at the same time. Having the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang encourages girls to play hockey more than ever and they look forward to achieving their dreams.”
Argentina didn’t have its first World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event on Sunday but the first on ice rather than an inline rink (see feature from 2012). The small-size Pista Uno in Bariloche situated in the foothills of the Andes in the southwest of the country saw 17 girls from 3- to 20-year-olds try ice hockey.
The girls were introduced to ice skates and hockey equipment before they had some basic lessons in skating without and with a hockey stick before getting a puck and learning to pass and shoot before finishing the event with stretching and refreshing drinks.
Three-year-old Kaya was the youngest one using some skating help first, you can find here in our photo gallery.
“Parents felt really happy with this event where girls felt enthusiastic. Some parents told me that they had thought ice hockey was a ‘men only’ sport because of hits and speed but seeing girls laughing and enjoying the games changed their minds,” said Dario Exequiel Guajardo Baruzzi, head coach at the ice rink and member of the development commission of the Argentine Ice and Inline Hockey Association (AAHHL).
“We think and hope this event will help to increase our number of female players so we are studying to do it more often as a regular activity.”
As one of the NHL’s so-called ‘non-traditional’ hockey markets, it’s been a process trying to grow the sport in Tennessee, so one can imagine the difficult task facing the Nashville Predators Amateur Hockey Association when trying to attract more girls and women to the game.
Thanks to events such as the Women’s Only Skills Clinic held at the Ford Ice Center in the Nashville suburb of Antioch, a brand new rink built by the Predators, progress is being made in that direction.
A total of 24 girls and women of all ages, ranging from under 10 up to adults, participated in the events on Saturday and Sunday, held in conjunction with the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend, and the response was outstanding.
“It was a blast, we got a lot of girls and women interested in playing some more hockey,” said Zach Jackson, the Hockey Coordinator for the Ford Ice Center.
It was a busy weekend, with events on both days, helping to draw in more participants.
“We had a women’s only Open Stick Time for all ages and abilities, with a couple of female guest instructors giving tips and tricks for all those interested on Saturday,” Jackson reported. “Then on Sunday, we had a women’s only skills clinic with our hockey director and hockey coordinator running, with some female guest instructors as well. It went really smooth. Every girl was provided equipment and only paid $10 to sanitize the equipment after they used it.
“We also passed out goodie bags of pink hockey laces, Predators stickers, flyers for our programs, USA Hockey Women’s team cards, free skate rentals, four Nashville Predator game tickets and USA Hockey stickers.”
Having the equipment available to provide to the new players was a big draw to the event, which helped bring in several participant who hadn’t previously registered.
“Through us just having the equipment out in the lobby and fitting all the different pads, people just walked up who weren’t previously registered and got on the ice with the full equipment,” Jackson said. “Having the ability to take walk-ins was a big asset to making our event even more successful.”
The feedback from the participants was excellent, and several new hockey players were created simply from giving these girls and women the opportunity to try it out.
“There was a lot of appreciation for recognizing that girls do play this sport and can play well, too,” said Jackson. “It was pretty cool to see no one but the females on the ice and having a lot of fun. We have been working to get a female hockey community going, and this is just another great step toward that goal. We got a lot of girls excited about playing hockey.”
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Sarajevo
Ice hockey is not the most usual sport in Bosnia & Herzegovina and women playing it is even less usual. Reason enough for the federation and the current female players to run a try-hockey event.
Because ice is only available in the winter, they improvised with a small hockey field for ball and inline hockey in front of a shopping mall in the middle of Sarajevo. Read more in our featured story about the reactions and how to rebuild hockey in the city that held the 1984 Olympics but also had to recover from years of civil war.
One of the two World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in Romania was held on Sunday afternoon in Brasov with the other taking place in Miercurea Ciuc (story follows on Monday). It was the first World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend held in the country.
30 girls and women between the age of 6 and 40 entered the city’s Olympic Ice Rink in the event hosted by ASC Corona 2010 Brasov.
Four groups were formed depending on their age and skill level and performed various practices under the supervision of the coaches starting from skating, keeping the balance to passing, shooting and a cross-ice game.
“Everyone had fun and would like to repeat the experience as soon as possible,” said Zoltan Olti-Pasca, President of the club’s ice hockey department.
“It was a thrilling experience that they would like to repeat more often.”
Parents and spectators cheered and some, inspired by the girls, wanted to come and try holding a stick and hit the puck on their own.
The event was also covered by the local newspaper and online media.
“In Brasov more and more people come to see hockey games and we hope that this event raised awareness amongst the female population of our city,” Olti-Pasca said.
At the SportsPlex in Bellingham, Wash., the Whatcom County Amateur Hockey Association hosted an event in conjunction with World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend and had 22 girls aged 4-13 participate in their hockey clinic.
With eight players from the boys’ bantam and midget teams helping out, the girls took the ice for an hour and 15 minutes, learning a variety of skills and receiving lots of valuable 1-on-1 attention.
“We had all women on the ice, which was a great move and was noticed by everyone,” said Ted Ritter, president of the Whatcom County Amateur Hockey Association.
Ritter noted that the response to the clinic was overwhelmingly positive.
“We offer a Play Hockey four-session practices as a follow-up and some (participants) have signed up for that, the rest are being recruited,” Ritter reported.
The best thing about the event is that it just helped raise awareness and attracted a few more new players to the sport.
“Nobody knows about it. It was left to us to promote and that’s hard to do,” Ritter said. “In our outreach, I think that fact helped, but more important was having all girls and women on the ice. It did inspire us to do something.”
What better way to promote girls’ hockey than to host a wide-ranging tournament that brought together over 50 teams of girls to play against each other over the weekend?
The Ohio Flames Girls Ice Hockey Club, based out of the Serpentini Winterhurst Arena in Lakewood, Ohio, held their 11th annual tournament as part of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
Teams from all across North America, from the U14, U16 and U19 age groups, participated throughout the weekend in the tournament, with championship games taking place on Sunday.
The tournament also benefited from the presence of Team USA goaltender Brianne McLaughlin, who is from the area and once played for the Ohio Flames organization. McLaughlin owns a gold medal from the 2010 Winter Olympics, a silver from 2014 and two golds from the Women’s World Championships (2011, ’13).
“On Saturday, several local female players attended the Lake Erie Monsters AHL game and got to participate in the opening ceremony, with Brianne McLaughlin of Team USA,” noted Seanna Conway, head coach of the Ohio Flames U14 AAA squad.
It was a fun weekend that helped to support the weekend’s overall philosophy.
“Continue to grow and develop the women’s games’ popularity amongst young girls in Cleveland and throughout North America,” Conway said of the tournament’s primary goal.
Hockey has never been hotter in Stavanger than it is now. The men's team was close to making the Top 16 in the Champions Hockey League, Stavanger is the biggest club in Norway with 1,200 players, the biggest women's hockey club, with two women's teams, and teams for girls under 14, under 11, under 9 and under 7.
This year, Stavanger Hockey wanted to recruit even more young girls, aged between five and nine, and apparently there's no stopping that snowball now, since a whopping 46 girls turned up, wanting to test hockey for the first time.
"We kept the event only for girls who aren't already in a team," says Ernst Falch, who's in charge of recruitment for girls' hockey.
The event was three hours long and covered everything from theory of hockey, to parental information, to introductions to talking about skating to actually skating.
"It is very important not to be pushy and, instead, take the time so that the kids feel safe. Ice is a foreign element to many of them, so we talked about how cold and slippery it is and so on. If we hadn't done that, half of them would have gone home," Falch says, smiling.
Girls got to borrow skates and helmets from the Stavanger hockey school and then they were divided into two groups, according to their skating skills.
"They all would want to come back to either the skating or hockey school, which is great," Falch says.
"To get so many new players is fantastic, because we can then build age groups in a serious and good way," he adds.
But team sports are so much more than just sports. It's where lifelong friendships are formed.
"We like to highlight to the kids and parents that players get many new friends. The parents understand the value of having friends and learning to control your emotions and how new friends enrich their children's lives," Falch says.
Karlskrona HK's event was one of the biggest ones in Sweden, with 31 7- to 16-year-old girls attending the Girls Hockey Weekend at the Telenor Arena.
Their busy day started with introduction to the equipment and the sport, continued with an ice session that included skating exercises, mini games, competitions, and ended with a team photo and an information session about future practices.
"They loved it, and the parents were interested to hear what we had to say so we think the event will have a positive impact on getting more girls to play. If I had one wish, I'd use it to get GHW promoted on television, to get the word out even more," said Conny Olausson, manager of Karlskrona HK's women's hockey.
30 girls between the age of 4 and 18 participated in the annual girls’ hockey event at the Winter Sports Palace in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. Both on Saturday and Sunday skating and classroom lessons were held before the girls separated into different age groups played games on the ice on Sunday.
“Everyone was very happy,” said Tzvetana Krasteva, one of the event organizers. “Thanks to the event every year we can promote the sport in Bulgaria and the world. The day will stay in the hearts of the participants and parents with great memories.”
In Gävle, home of Brynäs, one of the most classic clubs in Sweden, the organizing club was Strömsbro IF. For them, this year's Girls Hockey Weekend event was the first. An important first step.
"We'll expand this the next year, and hopefully we get more girls to try out then," says Thomas Fahlstedt, recruitment manager.
Five girls attended the club's inaugural Girls Hockey Weekend, all aged five and six. They participated in a practice with boys of the same age, and then were treated to juice and cookies. They'll be back.
Like in many clubs around the world, girls that are interested in hockey often don't have a girls' team to go to, but instead, they play with boys. That's also the case at Aakoo, a club in Inkeroinen, in Kouvola, Finland.
"We gathered together girls from different organizations in the region. Most of them are playing in a boys’ team but we are trying to put together our own girls' team now," says Arja Lakka, chairman of the club.
While the 15 players had their ice session on Sunday afternoon, doing skating and stickhandling drills while music was playing in the background, their parents had an info session in the arena's cafeteria.
Just because hockey is fun and the girls hockey day is all about fun, doesn't mean there can't be, or shouldn't be, structure to how things are done.
Here's the report from Mänttä Ice Hockey Arena, city of Mänttä-Vilppula, Finland.
Hosting club: Koillis-Pirkan Kiekko (KPK). Approximately 35 participants, aged between 5 to 40.
9.00. Sign-up. Equipment to the dressing rooms. Face painting. 9.50. Outdoor games and activities to warm up. Getting to know our visiting player, the Finnish national team player Anna Kilponen. 10.10. Getting to know the hockey gear, some tried the gear on and wore them on ice. 10.45. Hit the ice. Some fun games, some exercises and girls against women game. Anna Kilponen and the hosting club's mascot on ice as well. 11.45. Off the ice. Talking about girls' hockey. Anna Kilponen gave autographs. Everyone got her GHD diploma.
"There were a lot of smiles, on the ice and off the ice, as the parents were also very happy," says Tanja Mäkelä, girls hockey coordinator at Koillis-Pirkan Kiekko.
"The GHD is very important for our small community so that we can show that girls can play hockey, the game's not just for the boys. Events like this will help make the hockey world more tolerant and more open for girls' hockey," she says.
Nivala Cowboys were all about cowgirls on Sunday, although the local team's women's team has an even wittier name: NiceHockey. (It's witty for Finnish-speakers and "nice" is the pronunciations guide for "naiskiekko", or "female hockey".
"Twenty girls came to have fun with our women's team. They played games and practiced skatin and I can honestly say that smiles and laughts is the best prize for all of this," says NiceHockey manager Teppo Pirnes.
Once Joensuu in eastern Finland had three female teams. The number went down to zero and up to one as the senior women's team staged its comeback. Now the ladies want to attract younger girls to form a girls' team. The World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend was a welcomed event for the ambitions. We talked with player and organizer Jenni Oinonen in our featured story.
25 girls around the age of 14 to 15 came to the Daugava Ice Rink in the Latvian capital of Riga where they had the chance to try hockey with the players of the women’s ice hockey club Saga.
Afterwards the girls were split into three groups to compete in fun games before the girls received their “hockey diploma” and a puck and had a snack together in the dressing room.
“We had a wonderful time on ice. All the girls were so excited and happy about the chance to try this great sport,” said team founder and manager Inara Zvidre. “That was a really great day for all us and we will continue our work to make women's ice hockey more popular in Latvia.”
Any event taking place in Tromsø, Norway is bound to be the northern-most event in the world, and the GHD is no exception. Over 30 young girls aged between five and 13 showed up at the Tromsø rink, 300 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, to play some hockey.
"The girls were registered at 10.30, and hit the ice under guidance of adult girls from Tromsø ice hockey club fifteen minutes later. The beginners group had basic skating drills, with some play with parachute and other games. Other groupls had stick and puck handling exercises, skating drills, and another group played a game. The girls changed groups every fifteen minutes," says Kristin Fenton.
And then: time for post-practice meal - fruit and cookies - with the mothers and fathers. Also, the participants received a diploma and a key ring, and more information on joining the team.
"The parents' comments were very positive and I think the girls had fun on the ice and afterwards. We know more girls will join our club thanks to the event," Fenton says.
"The World Girls' Ice Hockey event is a great way to spread the word about girls' and women's hockey in the community. Our club got the opportunity to talk about the event and our girls' hockey school on the local radio, and the local newspaper came to our practice," Åsa Thors says.
"Hopefully more girls will come and try hockey," she adds.
This year's event took place in Dragonhallen in Umeå, with 29 players and four coaches. The youngest players were four, the oldest eleven, and some of them have played for a couple of years.
"This event was the second time the girls practised hockey on ice together. We practised skating, dribbled and passed the puck to each other, and had a short game. After the practice the girls got juice and a shirt from the Swedish Ice Hockey Association," Thors says.
146 participants and 50 volunteers took part in the Ice Hockey Association of The Netherlands’ girls’ weekend in Maaseik.
Players of mixed ages (from 9 to 39) and at different experience levels from all over the country came to the de Wintertuin rink for a round-robin competition with eight teams and players, their parents and fans stayed there for the whole weekend with social events on Saturday night and a common breakfast on Sunday morning.
“I have met new girls and others I saw again after summer holidays. Off the ice we have had a lot of fun but when we were on the ice for the games we wanted to win,” one of the participating girls said. “Next year I will join again, you just don’t want to miss it!”
The organization with Marlies Goessens, Jenny Goessens and Mandy Gooijer as the faces behind the project hope to make women’s hockey more popular with the annual event and recruit more female players said Arnoud van Berkel, executive director of the Ice Hockey Association of The Netherlands.
“Not only the games where important, but there was also time for fun, entertainment, social contacts. Many people enjoyed the well-organized weekend and they are looking forward to the next girls-only weekend,” he added.
For the first time the Ilse Robben award, named after the former women’s national team player and top-level referee who died of breast cancer five years ago, was given to Nancy van der Linden, a former national team player who is now the assistant coach of the women’s national team.
USA: Stockholm (New Jersey)
Here's a clip of how it went at the North Jersey Phoenix' girls' event in Stockholm, New Jersey.
Sunday morning at the Esbecon rink in Nummela, 45 minutes from Helsinki. The air was fresh, the girls were excited, and an Olympic medalist was there to welcome them. Sounds like a very good day for hockey.
And it was, says Terhi Mertanen, who won bronze at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
"We had eleven girls from a local team, and then seven first-timers out on the ice. The players had a blast on the ice, and the parents seemed to be impressed by the bronze medal," she says, smiling.
The youngest ones were just five, and the oldest eleven.
Upon arrival, the girls were also welcomed by a few mothers wearing pink jerseys, and then taken to the dressing room to get their skates on. On the ice, the entire group got right into it, and played together, before they were divided into smaller groups for skating drills.
"After the practice, I showed the girls an Olympic bronze medal from Vancouver. They also got a wrist band and a postcard as a memory of the event," says Mertanen.
And who knows, maybe one of them will be back in 2027, with a medal from the 2026 Games? Hopefully, they all will have great memories of their hockey journey that started at the 2014 GHW organized by Harjun Kiekko.
Ice Hockey Queensland and the Brisbane Goannas Women’s Ice Hockey Club, with assistance from Southern Stars Club and equipment from the Brisbane Buccaneers, hosted an event at Acacia Ridge Iceworld in the Brisbane region with 30 participants between the age of 6 and 45 showing up to try hockey.
After being fitted with the equipment, the participants were coached with basics and fun games by members of the Brisbane Goannas of the Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League.
“It was an awesome day for all. He already had queries as to when the next event would be held, questions about joining local clubs, and also about the Brisbane Goannas junior program Geckos 2 Goannas and the Australian Women’s League,” said the Goannas’ Vice President Jad Daley.
“We definitely increased participation and awareness about women’s and girls’ ice hockey.”
The University of Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey team hosted a clinic on Saturday as part of the 2014 World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
Prior to the Bulldogs’ home game at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, the team’s assistant coach Gina Kingsbury, who won two Olympic gold medals as a member of Team Canada (2006, 2010), led a free skills clinic for 40 girls aged 7-12.
Kingsbury, who also won three gold medals at the Women’s World Championships (2001, ’04, ’07), then let the girls see her Olympic gold medals in addition to signing autographs, which the Bulldogs’ players did as well.
All girls attending the clinic then received free tickets to UMD’s game against the No. 1-ranked University of Minnesota that night, and it turned out to be a good one, as the Bulldogs tied the Gophers 3-3 before prevailing in a shootout.
“This event was the first one held in our community and it was a great success,” said Angela Jones, Women’s Hockey Event Manager at the University of Minnesota Duluth. “We had participants who have never tried hockey or attended a college hockey game attend the event. The parents and girls were thrilled to be a part of the 2014 World Girls’ Hockey Weekend. In addition, we had one of our best crowds in recent years as a result of the large number of girls who attended the game.”
It was a highly successful initiative that will hopefully help grow the sport and get more girls interested in playing hockey.
“In our community, girls’ hockey participation has leveled off and fewer families are getting involved in the sport,” Jones said. “Our hope is that through events such as these, girls’ hockey interest and participation will grow and increase.”
In Westman in southwestern Ontario, it’s a girls’ game too. The Westman Wildcats and their Bantams and Midget girls’ teams hosted 77 girls in two groups – 4-8 and 9-12 year-olds – in the town of Hartney. Those who tried hockey for the first time got a glimpse about the sport and all learned about the opportunities in girls’ hockey in the region once they get older and that they can keep growing with their games once they leave their boys’ teams. In our featured story we talked with Wildcats manager Penny Hunt.
U.S. Olympic silver medallist Annie Schleper, NHL team Tampa Bay Lightning and the women’s hockey team Lady Vipers joined forces on Saturday to promote girls’ hockey in Florida before and during the Lightning’s home game against the Ottawa Senators. The local team lost but for the community the game was a big win. We walked with former NHL GM Jay Feaster, who is now the Lightning’s Executive Director of Community Development, in our featured story. Also other NHL teams or their junior teams or venues host events during the weekend including the Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks.
Zilina, the fourth-largest city of Slovakia, is one of the places with the largest World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events each year. Almost 100 girls were on the ice accompanied by boys and stars from female and male ice hockey such as Zuzana Tomcikova and Robert Petrovicky. We talked with the former world champion and the organizers in our featured story.
The enthusiasm displayed by the girls and parents at the GWD event in Somero, Finland, was put in words by the local club's event organizer Maija Laine:
"Maybe we could have more events like this, maybe two in the fall and two in the spring. That would give more girls the chance to try hockey and enjoy it without the pressure of playing in a team. They could just come a few times a year, and have fun," she says.
This time, twelve girls came to the TPE Spirit arena to have fun, and the youngest ones were just four years old. Two instructors welcomed them, told them about the program, and collected their contact information.
And then it was time to hit the ice. The group was divided into two, so that the older players practised together, and the younger ones among themselves.
"The girls were excited but Someron Pallo as a club can't promise to have girls-only teams. Of course, they're more than welcome to play with boys," Laine says.
The Steel Arena known from the 2011 IIHF World Championship hosted one of the Slovak events for girls on Saturday organized by Ice Dream Kosice.
The girls were split into four groups where they trained different skills with the help of professional coaches before playing a friendly game.
“The girls were really happy that they could skate at such a big arena in Slovakia. They liked the coaches and competitions held on the ice. We hope that we were able to encourage new girls to play hockey,” said Eva Molekova.
The weekend stream on then Finspång AIK's website was kicked off with the Girls Hockey Weekend from the Klimatteknikhallen. A half a dozen players aged between six and eight spent almost an hour and a half on the ice, familiarizing themselves with the cool game of hockey.
"Everybody is excited about our girls playing hockey, and the club gives its full support to developing the program," says Mats Kinell, girls' team's coach in Finspång, a small town about two hours southwest of Stockholm.
"We plan on celebrating the Girls' Hockey Weekend in the future and believe that our event will become bigger each year," he adds.
For a third consecutive season, Odense Ishockey Klub opened their doors to new girls looking to pick up hockey. This time around, ten brave girls - and their mothers - suited up and took the ice at Odense Isstadion.
Odense women's team was there to greet them, and guide them through their first practice. After some skating drills, the falling down decreased substantially.
"Everybody had a lot of fun, some of them said they'd like to try again. As for the mothers, they said it was hard," says Charlotte Poulsen at the club who adds that the club hopes to get some new players after the weekend.
Currently, Odense has teams for female players that are 12 and older, but even younger girls can join a mixed team.
One of the biggest obstacles for testing hockey is the lack of equipment. Limhamns Hockey in Malmö, Sweden, got rid of that one by arranging a drop-in event in which the participants could borrow what thye needed.
About fifteen girls aged between six and 13 practiced passing, shooting and skating, and ate hot dogs together after the practice. "We also had girls from several surrounding hockey teams on the ice, helping the beginners, and showing how things are done," says Helena Vilhelmsson, Limhamn Hockey's manager. "We hope to start a girl’s team this season and this was a good start. We also hope to promote women’s hockey since Malmö is hosting the World Championship next year," she adds.
Women’s hockey has won hearts in Russia thanks to the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi despite failing to win a medal. Now Russian hockey hopes to capitalize on the effect. 70 curious girls came to the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend at the Meteor sports school and got a session from former national players such as Zhanna Shelkova and Larisa Mishina who give their passion to the next generation. Find out more in our featured story.
Japan’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event was organized by the Indians Tokyo West Ice Hockey Club in Kose in the Yamanashi prefecture. 13 girls between the age of 6 and 15 years took part in two ice practices with a video session and lunch in between.
“The participants are just starting ice hockey but they were full of energy and fun from the beginning till the end,” said Taeko Hosoya of the Japan Ice Hockey Federation.
“They said that they don’t feel age difference and made good communication on and off the ice.”
In Japan women’s ice hockey is not a major sport and with facilities booked female players often have to practice late night.
“We hope that such an event will increase women’s hockey here and girls will become more familiar with ice hockey and we want to make an effort to make women’s ice hockey more popular in Japan,” Hosoya said.”
Also this year Malaysia is organizing to girls’ events during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. The first took place on Saturday at Sunway Pyramid Ice Rink in Selangor, Petaling Jaya.
25 participants came to the rink located in a shopping mall with the average age of 13. After getting the gear from the equipment manager, Hafiz, volunteers from the Jazura Girls Ice Hockey Club helped the participants to get ready for the ice session. They saw a short video and got introductions from the captain, Adilah.
“On ice, the participants were taught basic strides, had the opportunity to stick handle a tennis ball, go through mini obstacle courses, and had a race to bring out their competitive spirit,” said Nur Versluis, women’s program director of the Malaysia Ice Hockey Federation.
“The event has brought more awareness to the community of the sport and has increased the interest in ice hockey for the participants.”
A second event will be held on Sunday at PJ Arena.
27 girls between the age of 4 to 12 came to Aarhus Skøjtehal and all of them were new both to hockey and ice skating. At different stations they were able to test their skills and the youngest ones got penguins to hold on.
At the end the girls played a game and the kids and parents were invited for juice and cake at the club house for gifts but also more information and autographs with local Danish women’s national team player Liv Hansen.
“Everyone appeared to have a good time on the ice and off. Several asked about our hockey school for young kids, as well as our programs for adults and let us know they would be back,” said Dana Sackett Lössl, treasurer and board member of IK Aarhus. She hopes that at least six girls will join the program and maybe also that one or the other parent will be back on the ice with the club.
France: various locations
In France the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend was traditionally mostly held earlier during a national “open door” weekend for girls who had the opportunity to try different sports.
Ice hockey was offered in 21 different cities in France: Brives, Caen, Cergy, Chambéry, Clermont-Ferrant, Colmar, Epinal, Grenoble, Joué-lès-Tours, Le Havre, Limoges, Montpellier, Nantes, Orléans, Poitiers, Rouen, St-Brieuc, St-Gervais, Tours, Valenciennes and Wasquehal.
Girls and also their mothers came to learn about hockey and try it. The picture below is from the event in Grenoble.
Florence Schelling, the Swiss national goalie and MVP of the Olympic women's ice hockey tournament in Sochi 2014, organized an event in the Zurich suburb of Kloten. Read here what she said and men's national team head coach Glen Hanlon, who came to support.