Welcome to the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend tracker on 8/9 October 2016. We keep you updated here with events in 42 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 and Instagram, please use the hashtag #WGIHW when posting about the event.
Skautafelag Akureryar welcomed 40 girls and women between the age of 4 and 16 at the ice rink in Akureyri in the north of Iceland plus over 20 current players who were involved in organizing the event.
The participants were split into three groups where they learned the art of skating, passing and taking penalty shots on a goalie before playing cross-ice games. After the session they had the chance to take photos with national team players and have hot chocolate and snacks.
“The participants were having fun with lots of smiles. Some girls were determined to start practising right away after this session. Many young girls who are already practising were especially pleased at having photos taken with national team players whom they look up to,” said coach Sarah Smiley.
“Our Girls Hockey Day in Akureyri, which we are now hosting for the 4th time (2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016), keeps growing year to year. The 40 participants trying hockey is a record turnout for our club. Every year women’s hockey gets more and more recognition, respect and positive reputation in the town of Akureyri and this event certainly helps us to celebrate that. This event has not only been a useful recruiting tool but also has become a celebration of what we have achieved and how much with have grown the sport.”
60 to 70 participants came to the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in Dnipro (formerly known as Dnipropetrovsk) from children starting at 6 to adults up to 50.
They were zones for the different groups from little kids to adult beginners, intermediate, free-style skating and shooting with coaches and players to assist and teach new skills. A lot of gifts, snacks, balloons and diplomas were ready off the ice and three local TV stations were on-site to interview the new hockey players afterwards.
“It was the first time and it was great! In social networks we had comments like ‘Today I became a hockey girl!’ or ‘It’s the best fun on ice I’ve ever had!’,” said Maryna Borysenko of the women’s hockey club Dneprovskie Belki.
“The main aim to host the event coincides with the mission of our club – to promote ice hockey locally and country-wise, to attract and involve girls to this game and sport activity. To our greatest pleasure the aim of the event was achieved. We attracted both young and middle age females to try hockey. We created an opportunity for beginners to start skating. The event will be talked about and in the doorstep of the winter season it reminds people of fun and of the advantage of an active and sporty lifestyle.
“Another aim was to popularize our women’s ice hockey team. To show us as an active members of the local sport community. To attract more fans and prospective new players. Two girls during the event asked how and when they could join practice sessions of the team. And yet not so many people in our city even know that there is a female hockey team. The WGIHW is the perfect opportunity to prove that ice hockey exists for women too!”
Sunday was a great day for women’s hockey at HV71 from Jonkoping. 36 girls born 2003-2011 followed the invitation to the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend including 20 who tried the sport for the first time and many of them would like to start with the club.
“We have got a lot of positive feedback from the girls, parents, local media such as radio and newspaper, schools, community and many leaders in the club,” said Jenni Asserholt, long-time national team player and captain of the team.
“I think this will be the start of something very good and big for women’s and especially girls’ hockey in our club. We already have a great organization with support for the women´s team but in a longer perspective we need more young girls at HV71.”
Young teenage girls from 10 to 14 tried hockey on Sunday morning at the local ice rink in Carta, Romania, with the locker room, jackets and T-shirts coloured in pink as a surprise welcome.
USA: Glen Ellyn, IL
The Admirals Hockey Club organized a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event at Center Ice of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and 60 girls from 5 to 15 years of age followed the invitation. And there were enough reasons to do so.
“We had a great American Development Model style skate, combined with face painting, nail painting, eight yummy large pizzas, a dessert table, USA Hockey giveaways, and Kendal Coyne with her Olympic medal,” said Carla Pentimone, the Girls Hockey Director.
“They absolutely loved it. It was one of the girls’ 7th birthday, both she and her family said it was her best birthday yet! The Chicago Blackhawks and the Amateur Hockey Association Illinois published stories on us too.”
Djurgarden Stockholm organized a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event with 120 female players between the age of 3 and 30 trying to play hockey at the Hovet ice rink.
“We actually had a few players from a football team who tried hockey for the first time. They managed to get sponsored with full hockey equipment only for this event. That´s pretty amazing. It was great to see all the smiling faces on the ice that day!” said Angelica Lindeberg, PR and marketing for Djurgarden’s women’s team.
Girls’ coach Hanna Lindquist with some players from the women’s team and former player Danijela Rundqvist led the sessions on the ice. The girls also had the opportunity to try scoring on national team goalie Valentina Lizana Wallner while the club’s mascot Jarnkaninen was spreading additional joy.
“The players also talked a lot to the new girls, told them their stories how they started playing ice hockey, why they liked it and the best things about the sport ice hockey. And the new girls asked a lot of questions, it was great,” Lindeberg said.
“We only heard good comments through the day. At first from the parents when they brought some hotdogs, warm beverage and fruit in our café. They thought it was good that the event was for girls. This way they dare to try it, which sometimes can be a problem when a lot of boys are around. Some parents drove three-and-a-half hours to come to our event.”
31 girls between 5 and 10 years came to Donauparkhalle for the event organized by the local women’s hockey club in Linz, the IceCats.
After trying the first hockey moves in floorball, they hit the ice for a 90-minute session with five stations while enjoying a presentation of the club and a buffet off the ice.
“We hope that we can find about seven or eight new girls for our young-girls program called ‘IceKittens’. We have already more than 40 young girls between 5 and 14 in our Club. Many of them are between 9 and 12 years old. So we tried to find girls between 5 and 10,” said head coach and GM Detlev Bauernfeind. “With 75 girls and women in our club we are already the largest women’s hockey club in Austria and the only one with a young-girls program.”
20 girls from 5 to 15 years old came to the ice rink in Galati, eight girls from the region and 12 girls from a school who came by train from Beresti located 80 kilometres away to get their first experience.
After some few skating drills they did deveral hockey contests on the ice and in the end they got gifts and prizes.
“The parents were very pleased and hope we can do more ice hockey promo. Actually, we have been talking with a teacher for a closer school to do a women’s hockey class to enlarge the number of our female players. At the moment we have seven girls practising ice hockey among the boys. Two of them represent our U18 national team,” said Cristinel Munteanu, U18 and U16 coach at Dunarea Galati.
“The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend is reminds our club management that hockey is for girls too. They are going to discover the benefits of bringing girls into the club life. Also this event encourages the girls to come to enjoy and to join ice hockey,” Munteanu added.
Women’s hockey has a small following in Ukraine. For a long time it didn’t exist but this year the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine has 51 female players registered and with the country’s first participation in the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend the number is set to grow.
Three events were held in the country, in the capital of Kyiv, in Kharkiv and in Dnipro (formerly known as Dnipropetrovsk) where girls and women of all ages were helped by prominent coaches or players such as Sergi Varlamov and even mascots.
In the capital of Kyiv 300 persons were on the ice, women, girls but also boys were invited at the event organized by the women's hockey team Ukrainochka supported by three local sport schools and the state administration. And it was a success.
“We have nine girls from 5 to 12 years old who will be back to the ice rink for training this week as the part of schools teams. There are also three new girls between 16 and 18 years who will join our club and ten boys who wish to join local hockey teams,” said Olexandra Slatvytska, women’s hockey manager at the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine.
Mexico: Mexico City
The Mexican Ice Hockey Federation did not only host the first round of the Women’s Olympic Qualification at the IceDome in Mexico City, it also used the opportunity to invite girls and women to try hockey at the rink.
Both events were a success. The women’s national team beat Turkey and Hong Kong to advance to the next round in the Kazakh capital of Astana. Find a tournament recap here.
Hola from Mexico! The Mexicans did not only win the first round of the Women's Olympic Qualification, they also invited girls and women to try ice hockey during the #WGIHW http://www.iihf.com/iihf-home/sport/women/world-girls-hockey-day/2016/
Serbia again hosted a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event at the Pionir ice rink in Belgrade. It was a full weekend of celebration for women’s hockey at the event hosted by the Serbian Ice Hockey Association with logistical help of all other clubs from Serbia. In total 45 participants from 5 to 15 years of age took part.
On Saturday afternoon the girls went onto the ice sheet that was split into different parts for practices and fun games with six different coaches. Afterwards the participants had a meal and supported men’s team HK Beograd in the MOL Liga game against Romanian club SC Miercurea Ciuc.
On Sunday there was another practice opportunity for girls followed by U8 and U10 cross-ice tournaments and an exhibition game a girls’ selection against Partizan Belgrade’s U12 boys’ team.
“All the parents were very happy and positive about the Serbian Ice Hockey Association organizing a Girls’ Day in Serbia. They are supportive for more similar activities in the future. At the same time they really enjoyed watching their girls have fun on ice with all the other girls from other teams and towns. It was a fantastic atmosphere in general,” said event organizer Uros Brestovac.
On the first day the state broadcaster RTS came to the rink to produce a clip from the event and other media covered the event in Serbia as well.
“With this event we will definitely have more girls who will at least come to try and see what ice hockey is like, to feel the energy, the fun time,” he said and hopes that the already growing number of female players in Serbia will go even higher.
The women’s hockey club Salzburg Eagles hosted one of the two World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in Austria. 27 teenagers came to the event to try hockey and are offered to join again for try-outs every Friday evening.
“We got plenty of Facebook likes and messages. The main question was: When will the next training be held? We still hope becoming talk of the town. At least it would be great to be seen as a serious sport,” said Gregor Wimmer, who takes care of the marketing and communication of the club.
22 girls joined the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event of MODO in Ornskoldsvik, the youngest was just two-and-a-half years old and the oldest 12. The girls had almost two hours on the ice followed by their parents in an area nearby. When it was done, the girls got soda and hot dogs and tickets for one of the next home games in the women’s league.
“Everybody was having a good time and many of them were looking forward to next time,” said Bjorn Edlund of MODO. “We will in the future see a lot more girls testing the sport ice hockey. We are also looking forward to next year’s event.”
Chinese Taipei: Taipei City
Chinese Taipei was one of the newest IIHF members to join the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend and it did so with around 60 participants on the ice under the slogan “come and have fun”.
It’s an important season for the Taiwanese since Chinese Taipei will compete in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program not anymore in one but in four categories including for the first time with the women’s national team.
Chinese Taipei will for the first time send a team to the Women’s World Championship program. To boost women’s hockey, they organized the first #WGIHW in Taipei City. As the video indicates, it was a success. We had a chat with them here: http://www.iihf.com/home-of-hockey/news/news-singleview/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=11134&cHash=8376ee7c68db3ea85b34a33180da0059
Women’s hockey in Estonia is awaken from an eight-year sleep. After the financial crisis in 2008 female hockey seemed to disappear in the Baltic country but the 2016 World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend was the start of what promises to become a revival.
The Turkish Ice Hockey Federation organized a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend at Ankara’s ice rink with 50 girls and women of any age group.
After getting their T-shirts the girls first saw an exhibition game before they hit the ice themselves for some fun games helped by the local players.
“Their parents and the girls were happy. Some of the figure skater showed up and decided to switch to hockey, which was a big win for us,” said Ibrahim Kaan Ozgencil, coach of the Turkish Ice Hockey Federation. “We’ve won some players and many people learned that there is women’s hockey in Turkey and they can join their sisters in this fun sport.”
36 girls and women until 20 joined the event organized by the local club Drakkars in Caen and were helped by players from the women’s team and the mascot. Also on-site to meet the girls was Michael Buonincontri, the scoring leader of the men’s senior team.
The feedback was positive. “It was a superb day and I really liked the mascot,” said 10-year-old Ines. “I really liked it and for sure we’re going to support the pros tonight,” said Mathilde, 20. “Leo, the mascot, was nice and helped me, that was cool!” said four-year-old Leana.
“The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend allowed us to show our sport to a larger audience. We think that we can gain three or four licenced players thanks to this event. We hope that it will bring French women’s hockey a step forward and we hope it will help us get a new ice sheet to accommodate an additional women’s team in the future,” said Virgile Mariette, youth hockey manager of the local club.
The Atak Ice Sports Club organized a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in Istanbul. Turkey’s metropolis was one of the two venues in the country this year and the girls visibly enjoyed the experience on the ice.
Ice hockey is the biggest sport in Finland but many consider a baseball-like sport called pesapallo the national sport. In its stronghold of Sotkamo where the 18-time Finnish champion comes from, and where Teemu Selanne holds his summer camp, the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend came back this year. And among the girls on the ice was 7-month-old Milja, welcome!
Docklands in Victoria was one of five venues in Australia that was hosted by the Women’s Council through the support of Ice Hockey Victoria, Ice Hockey Australia, O’Brien Group Arena, Ice Sports Victoria and the Victorian Government. A free 1-hour ‘Come and Try’ session was open to females of all ages and abilities followed by a 2-hour ‘Lightning Tournament’ for registered female ice hockey players. Throughout the whole day, there were 83 participants, including 50 beginners and 33 experienced ice hockey players.
“The visitors loved the Come and Try session and were keen to try other ice hockey activities, learn how to play ice hockey, and how to join a team,” said Julie Cantrill, the Victorian Representative for the Ice Hockey Australia Women’s Council.
“The most amazing thing about our World Girls’ Day was how women organized, marketed, coached, refereed, played, scored, volunteered, announced, photographed and facilitated the whole event. We had people traveling up to 150 km to take part either as players or volunteers. On the ice, there was a full spectrum of ages from 5 to 45 years old and a huge range of ability and experience from complete novices through to national team players. Mothers and their daughters, aunties and their nieces, sisters, friends, and team mates from roller derby, street and inline hockey came to experience the ‘ice’. The atmosphere was fun, supportive and relaxed, and everyone had a great time.”
With 16 months left to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, the Korea Ice Hockey Association with its women’s national team hosted the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend at the Zenith Ice Rink in Seoul. 30 girls born before 2006 came to the event with a lot of excitement. They were welcomed by the national team players and received their WGIHW T-shirts that they could get signed later.
“The girls said they were honoured to spend time with national team players who will be the upcoming Olympic Winter Games stars. The participants and parents were excited about the event and are already waiting for the next WGIHW! It was a good chance for young participants because they could learn hockey from the professional players and coaches. They could also realize that ice hockey is very fun and interesting sport,” said Yona Hong of the Korea Ice Hockey Association.
The event made people curious about ice hockey to increase the interest ahead of the Olympics on home ice.
“Many parents took pictures of their young kids and uploaded pictures in social media to share their experience so that many more people could experience the event.”
USA: GREENSBURG, PA
Girls from ages four to 18 flocked to the Kirk Nevin Arena in Greensburg, Pennsylvania to enjoy World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events organized by the Westmoreland Hockey Association.
“They were smiling from the moment they arrived until the moment they left,” said organizer Jason Sloan. “One mother even emailed to let us know her daughter had such a good time that she insisted on sleeping in her jersey tonight.”
The schedule included a free public skate for girls on Friday and Saturday nights. A local college girls' program came to speak with the U19 program about college hockey on Saturday morning. There was a Try Hockey for Free Day on Saturday with a trailer full of equipment borrowed from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In addition, the Penguins held their annual "Free Game for Kids" versus the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday at their newly christened home arena, PPG Paints Arena, so all girls in the organization were able to attend.
USA: Buffalo, NY
The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) made headlines last year when it debuted as a competitor to the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL). But the four-team, Eastern-based league was focused on embracing the sport’s grassroots at its World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend extravaganza in Buffalo. American stars like Brianna Decker, Alex Carpenter, and Amanda Kessel took part in the opening games of the 2016/17 season at the HarborCenter.
Slovenia hosted its World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in the capital of Ljubljana.
“It was a quite solid turnout for the first year. Hopefully we have found a couple of young players to rejuvenate our three women's clubs, maybe even to form the fourth one in the next season,” said Rok Srakar, spokesman of the Slovenian Ice Hockey Federation, which hopes to be able to form an U18 women’s national team in the next few years.
Events like the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend can help achieving that goal. The girls in any case liked it and had afterwards the chance to watch the ladies who helped them in a game of the national women’s hockey league.
Moscow’s only women’s hockey club, Meteor, has hosted the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend before. On Saturday it wrote history with some of its players joining the Moscow Girls’ Team 2003-2005 to take part in the Moscow Cup for boys’ teams with players born in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
“It’s a unique case! For the first time in the history of women's ice hockey in Moscow the girls performed as a single team against a team of boys,” said Mikhail Topanov, head coach of the girls’ team at Meteor.
While Meteor is the only girls’ team, they were joined in the girls’ selection by girls from other clubs who play on boys’ teams.
“Playing against boys was hard, but our girls scored one goal,” he said. The boys’ team that played on home ice, Serebryanye Akuly, won 4-1. “But our girls do not lose heart because they became pioneers in the difficult battle on the ice among the many teams of young men from Moscow.”
“The girls were delighted to take part in the challenge for the Cup of Moscow with the boys and be the only team where players wear ponytails and braids.”
After having participated in the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend two years ago, the team was happy to be part again and tell the world about themselves. And while it was rainy and grey in Moscow, the girls’, their opponents, coaches, referees and spectators added colour with their hockey games.
South Africa: Port Elizabeth
With ice hockey back in Port Elizabeth thanks to a new rink, the 43 participants coming to the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend were all new to the sport and many were even on the ice for the first time in their lives in the group with ages from 5 to 54 years.
After meeting in the Saturday morning the participants had a 90-minute ice session with several exercises. In the evening the senior team also had a game that was attended by some of the new players interested in joining the club. On Sunday morning the weekend at the Baywest Ice Rink continued with a second ice session for the new participants, who in the end got their certificates.
“We loved the idea [of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend]. All the boys are jealous and want a similar event,” said Carine van Eck of the Eastern Province Ice Hockey Association.
“I think that they now have a better picture of the skills needed to be able to play the sport and that it isn’t only boys and men that can manage to learn those skills. We hope to have recruited a few new girls to our team and hopefully the long-term effect will be that we can have a full ladies league going.”
Another event in the Netherlands took place at the federation’s home rink in Eindhoven, nicely decorated for the event, and 20 girls from 5 to 12 years of age came. They went through six stations with skating, hockey and fun exercises.
“The kids were very excited and happy. They gave it their very best at every drill. Even though not everyone was experienced with skating and stickhandling. Some of the kids were on the ice for the very first time. So big respect to them!” said women’s national team player Glynis Barton, who helped at the event. “Pretty sure they will have an exciting story to tell their friends in school tomorrow.”
South Africa: Durban
With summer all year long, not everybody is thinking about ice sports in Durban. But eight girls and women used the opportunity to try the sport at the event of the Durban Rays Ice Hockey Club. It was a one-hour ice session with six different stations, having the most fun at the cross-ice game as Lee Jones, the head coach, founder and owner of the club said.
“All participants really enjoyed the session and learnt a lot,” he said. “It has helped show everyone that the sport can be played by boys and girls. Hopefully we will see more ladies giving the sport a try.”
Nässjö HC in Sweden’s heartland believed that their local stars would attract young girls to their Girls Hockey Day event, and they were right. Lindsey Griggs and Anna Meixner from HV71 in the neighboring Jönköping brought not only experience from the top Swedish league but also international flair to Nässjö. Griggs is HV71’s Canadian assistant captain and Meixner a forward from Austria. Nässjo’s third star instructor was a local girl, 14-year-old Elin Svensson, who plays for Troja-Ljungby in the women’s first division. It worked. Twelve girls aged 4 through 9 arrived at the Hoglandsrinken, ready to play hockey.
“The event started in the morning, the girls wore pink jerseys. We split the girls into two groups, and they did some skating drills and played games,” says Christian Merkle, the club’s hockey school manager.
“We’re very pleased with the event, and we’ll do it again – only bigger,” he adds. Naturally, after the practice, there was an autograph session with the instructors.
South Africa: Cape Town
The Griffins Ladies Ice Hockey team hosted 13 girls and ladies from the age of 4 to 34 at the Ice Station in the Grand West Casino in Cape Town, which has hosted several IIHF tournaments in the last few years, on Sunday morning.
Many of the girls already had experience on the ice and had some passing and shooting instructions and drills before playing 4-on-4 scrimmage.
“They all seemed to have fun and learn some new things, smiles on faces is the best comments one can have,” said Nadine Sheffield, who hopes to plan further in advance next year to advertise the event more and make it bigger.
“The country’s growth for women’s hockey as a whole is developing well with new rinks opening up. It has created much more interest in areas where there has not been ice hockey before and for many years.”
Another event in the Netherlands was hosted on Sunday morning by local club Nijmegen Devils with 25 girls from 5 to 13 years of age.
After signing in and some off-ice games, the girls did several stations on the ice: learn to skate (1-on-1), football on skates between two goals, badminton on skates, shooting on a hockey goal with water bottles in it, small area game and shooting on a goalie.
Behind the ice other activities were waiting such as film and photo presentations, crafting a cardboard hockey player, drinks and as seen on the photo face painting.
The Devils hope that the event will give a boost for girls to join hockey and the club itself learned from all the activities it may use itself in the future.
In August, Mats Zuccarello led Norway to the 2018 Winter Olympics at the Jordal Amfi arena in Oslo. On Sunday, a dozen young girls gather at his old stomping grounds at the Lorenhallen, a 40-minute walk from the Jordal Amfi, for the Girls Hockey Day event organized by Zuccarello’s alma mater, Hasle-Loren.
"We welcomed the girls, gave them Girls Hockey T-shirts and showed them to the dressing room with our women’s team and some of our women’s team players instructed the smaller girls during their practice. First we had skating without sticks, then different technical lessons, and then hockeyplaying,” says Rune Fjellvang at the club.
"After 90 minutes, we got off the ice, tired but happy,” he adds
Like many other clubs, Hasle-Loren used the Girls Hockey Day as a kickoff event, a prelude of things to come.
"This was a good start for the season. Now we'll have a girls' hockey day every month for the rest of the winter,” Fjellvang says.
15 girls from the age of 6 to 25 came together at the Slavia ice rink in Sofia where they were helped by players from the women’s national team to make their first steps in ice hockey. That started in the dressing room with the equipment and was followed by an hour ice session that included skating drills with the puck, shooting on a goalie, penalty shots and a cross-ice game.
In the end the girls received small hockey gifts from the national team players and watched them playing a game.
“The kids were very happy getting their presents and felt motivated to play with us. Most of them stayed to cheer for us. The parents were very grateful to me as an organizer,” said Stefani Stoyanova, one of the national team players.
“I think that for future we will get more and more girls who would like to try our great sport. I have many ideas to make every upcoming WGIHW event better and better, so that everyone has fun and we can involve many people.”
Some of the girls also played at the city’s other ice rink, the Winter Sport Palace, there the Balkan Cross Ice Tournament “NSA CUP” took place with seven teams from Bulgaria and three from Serbia.
One of the traditional hockey cities in Poland, Katowice for the first time hosted a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event and 50 participants came. Mostly it was girls and young ladies between 5 and 18 years of age but some of the mothers tried ice hockey as well at the Jantor ice rink where the hockey club Kojotki Naprzod Janow organized the event.
The girls worked on hockey exercises, were presented the situation of girls’ and women’s ice hockey in Katowice and had a two-and-a-half-hour ice session. The girls had the chance to wear the jersey of the Polish national team, which they accepted as a good omen in their careers. In the end they watched the senior women’s hockey league game between Kojotki and Atomowki.
“Everybody was delighted to have the opportunity to take part in such an event. The reacted we heard most often reaction was: ‘It’s not enough. We want more!’ The girls had an opportunity to show their mothers, sisters, friends what kind of sport they love and how it works. We will organize such an event more often than once a year,” said Anna Rehlich, the President of the club.
“We are the first girls’ hockey club in Poland. Our hockey players are the first girls in Poland creating a team of 9-11 and 12-16 years old girls playing in youth leagues against boys’ teams! We are sure that the event will have a huge impact on our club because today the phone was busy as many asked whether they can play with us.”
Jarna, about 40 minutes south of Stockholm, is the ringette hub of Sweden, but this year, the local hockey club wanted to offer local girls a chance to get acquainted with hockey.
"We started the first girls’ hockey team in Jarna last fall. The players in the team are between nine and twelve. Today 30 girls were on the ice today, from age 4 – 15 years old. Hockey is big in Jarna but not so many girls are playing – yet,” says Ulrika Modigh.
The 30 girls pulled a two-hour shift on the ice, and while it surely was tough, it was also a lot of fun.
“They came off the ice with smiles on their faces and many of them said they’d like to play hockey. Our coaches gave the parents and players more information about the club and we hope to see them come back,” Modigh says.
40 participants from 6 to 43 years old joined the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in Hong Kong, annually organized at Mega Ice, a full-size rink in a shopping mall.
Two hours of ice time were reserved for all girls and women interested in trying the sport on Saturday evening with eight players of the women’s national team helping out. After getting the equipment, the participants were split into two groups for beginners and advanced skaters.
“The participants enjoyed it a lot and would love to participate in ice hockey events more often,” said Leo Kan of the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association. “I think the event really helps to promote the sport of ice hockey to females in Hong Kong as we don’t have that many girls or women playing the sport in Hong Kong right now.”
The best part of sports, and hockey, and the girls hockey day in particular is that it brings people together. In Odense, Denmark, it brought together a dozen girls and women, aged between 4 and 59. (One woman took the ice with her granddaughter).
“We started up 45 min before we went on ice by getting everybody in full equipment. On the ice, we had some skating drills, including how to get up after falling down. That happened a lot,” said Chalotte Poulsen, the Odense Ishockey Klub’s women’s team’s manager.
“Afterwards, the young girls got a very pink t-shirt with ‘Ice hockey for girls’ on it,” Poulsen said.
They also got a fun day on the ice, and gained respect for the game.
Stavanger Hockey on the west coast of Norway has come a long way on their promotion of girls’ hockey as the club already has full girls teams in under-7, under-8, under-9, and under-10 age groups. The 12 girls that arrived at the Stavanger Ishall on Saturday to participate in this year’s World Girls0 Ice Hockey Weekend event can easily find a suitable team should they choose to pick up a new sport. Read our feature from Norway here.
Here's what it looked like during the #WGIHW in Stavanger. Read our feature from the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend in the Norwegian city here: http://www.iihf.com/home-of-hockey/news/news-singleview/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=11126&cHash=1665b303d70359b4be57275224ce9096
WHC L&L/JLSS, silver medallist in the Latvian women’s league last year, organized its events in Jelgava and Riga with 70 participants ranging from, well, a one-and-a-half-month old baby having a look, to 45-year-olds.
The day started in Jelgava with a game between the team and popular Latvian musicians that the ladies won 4-3.
During the breaks there were different activities and challenges like skating, shooting, penalty-shooting for both participants and spectators, later people could get autographs and snacks.
Later, 40 kilometres away in the capital of Riga, players new to the game were introduced to ice hockey as girls and some of their mothers hit the ice to do some exercises with the team. Even some of the musicians took their daughters to their first training.
“As this game between girls and musicians was for the first time, there were a lot of spectators and family members as well. Many wives and children from musicians were interested in ice hockey and even attended the training afterwards,” said Mara Trezina, the team’s general manager.
“Parents were told about the possibilities to play ice hockey, the importance for playing sports and the fun their daughters can get. For us it is very important to see, that there are new players coming and willing to play. We need to improve our level of play and that can be done by increasing the number of players, by involving more and more players. And the most important is to get more and more young girls. And with this game we got bigger audience, awareness, interest in women ice hockey.”
Czech Republic: Nachod
The Czech Ice Hockey Association’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event took place in Nachod in East Bohemia with 32 girls between the age of 6 and 14 years.
It was a day-long event that started at 9am with organizations information for the girls and parents about playing ice hockey and the opportunities the sport gives. After an off-ice warm-up the girls had three on-ice sessions with long breaks in between.
In the first session they started with small-area drills, stickhandling, puckhandling, slalom and shooting. After a lunch break they played a mini-hockey tournament. In the third session they tried various hockey skills with funny games, skating with parachutes and speed measurement. The mayor of Nachod also visited the event.
When the evening approached the girls had a day with a lot of great impressions and got diplomas, hockey sticks and gifts.
“Girls were excited and enjoyed the whole day very much. Some parents and girls travelled across the whole republic,” said Martin Voltr, who reported from the event for hokej.cz.
“The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend is a great opportunity for little girls to see girls from other clubs, to practice and speak with older girls from national teams, to see their possible goals for the future.”
The Czech Ice Hockey Association organizes such an event twice a year including this one during the global girls’ weekend.
Long-time Czech national team defenceman Katerina Flachsova, who quit the national team this season, also made her first steps – as a coach.
“The girls were really skilled. I was surprised about them. I haven’t been in touch with girls’ hockey so far so I didn’t have an idea what it would look like. I enjoyed being with them on ice. The girls helped me to get into the practice as it went on and soon I forgot this nervosity. I would be really glad if I have the opportunity to continue coaching,“ Flachsova said.
“When I was a little kid, I didn’t have such opportunities; there were no camps like this in the past. It must be a huge experience for little girls. I noticed the photos from the World Girls‘ Ice Hockey Weekend events all over the world. It’s very nice to see the fun and happy faces everywhere.“
At the venue of the Leeuwarden Capitals another World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event was organized in the Netherlands with 30 participants between 4 and 26 years of age.
After some off-ice warm-up games the participants played various games on the ice with balloons, a football and badminton-style, had a learn-to-skate circuit, worked on their shooting and played 3-on-3 games. The local club’s coaches appreciated bringing the program from the IIHF and IJshockey Nederland to their city and plan to use the fun stations more often themselves.
Romania: Targu Mures
Targu Mures, a Romanian-Hungarian bilingual city in the north-central part of Romania, doesn’t have the happiest hockey community. To replace an outdoor rink, construction for a new indoor ice rink started in 2007. While it’s almost done, the work has never been completed and the local community has yet to see an ice sheet at the arena due to political and financial struggle.
While many children were lost for the sport in the last decade, that doesn’t prevent the local hockey club to give the new generation a glimpse of hockey as the HC Targu Mures organized one of the four World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in the almost-done arena, even though due to lack of ice the girls used inline hockey and floorball equipment to practise on the concrete.
Australia: Acacia Ridge, Brisbane
Ice Hockey Queensland hosted one of the four World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in Acacia Ridge in the Brisbane region together with the local women’s hockey team Goannas, who helped with their coaches and players, and the club Southern Stars providing the ice time and equipment for the beginners. The community replied well with 47 girls and women from 5 to 53 years of age joining the ice.
After getting their equipment the new players had one hour for skating drills various stations which included passing, shooting, puck handling and an obstacle course, which produced lots of smiles and laughing from all ages. After the session there were photos and the girls enjoyed snacks together.
“The feedback received was very positive everyone had lots of fun with many of the beginners showing interest in the upcoming ‘Come and Try’ sessions being hosted by the local clubs. Flyers were also handed out with information on the home games for the AWIHL team, the Brisbane Goannas,” said Lee Brown, Women’s Director of Ice Hockey Queensland.
“I believe the World Girls’ Ice Hockey weekend opens the eyes of many of just how many girls and women are interested in playing ice hockey. Many were asking when we can do it again, just for girls of course. The best part of this day is the smiles you see and the laughter you hear amongst the girls as they are enjoying being part of a great event. Can’t wait for next year!”
USA: Chaska, MN
The Chaska Chanhassen Hockey Association in Minnesota hosted a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event with 60 girls at the ages 5-18. They were kept busy for six hours. Off the ice with yoga, stick handling, strength and agility class, hockey craft, lunch and guest speakers including four-time Olympian Jenny Potter, and on the ice with a 45-minute fun skate event and 45 minutes of cross-ice games.
“There were lots of smiles and positive feedback from parents. The event we held today provided an environment for the girls to get to know each other better, try new things, encourage new participants to join our association. We hope this event helped to grow our program and help to retain current participants,” said Keri Mack.
Canada: Fort Smith, NT
Even in some of Canada’s remotest corners, passion for women’s hockey burns brightly. Fort Smith, Northwest Territories hosted its inaugural World Girls’ Ice Hockey event on Saturday.
The University of Minnesota Duluth’s women’s hockey team put on a dynamic World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event, with 45 girls aged seven to 12 taking part.
First, the girls got free tickets to attend Saturday’s UMD Bulldogs women’s hockey game versus rival Minnesota State. Girls in attendance took part in the pre-game on-ice ceremony and were recognized at the game. Afterwards, they enjoyed a free hockey skills clinic at AMSOIL Arena, hosted by the UMD coaches and players.
“World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend gives a spotlight to girls and women’s hockey in our area,” said Angela Jones, UMD’s women’s hockey event manager. “It gives them the opportunity to give hockey a try and learn new skills. Girls’ hockey participation has been on a slight decline in our area, and our hope is that through events such as World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend, interest and participation in girls’ hockey will increase.”
USA: Newark, NJ
The New Jersey Devils have a history of promoting women in hockey, and their World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event on October 8 added to that legacy.
30 participants gathered at the Mogo Ice Rink in Riga for Laima Riga’s World Girls‘ Ice Hockey Weekend event. Their age ranges from 5 to 25.
Team members helped the girls with the equipment while parents were informed about the opportunities hockey can give to their kids. The girls then had their ice session that included skating exercises, mini-games and competitions. Afterwards they received a hockey diploma and the pink “I love hockey” bracelet from the event.
“The girls enjoyed the time with their new friends on the ice and their parents were happy to see their daughters play hockey,” said Inara Zvidre, the General Manager of the club. “We want to increase awareness that girls’ hockey exists, even among girls who didn’t come this time but hear about it. We think and hope this event will help to increase our number of female players in Latvia.”
Ilves Tampere, one of the two big clubs from Finland’s second-biggest urban area, organized a girls’ event with its women’s and girls’ teams. In total 30 female players were on the ice of which 14 were beginners to try hockey for free.
17 girls of different age groups joined the girls’ day of APV in Alavus in Western Finland. The age groups were quite different and for the youngest one it was most important to try the Finns’ favourite sport for the first time.
20 girls from 5 to 15 years of age participated in the Girls Only Hockey event in Enschede, one of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in the Netherlands.
There were a lot of activities not only on the ice. Behind the scenes they were able to paint their faces, make a photo with a national team player, dance with the mascot and work off-ice on their shooting. On the ice the girls played 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 games, shooting games, they had skating lessons and other exercises.
“They were very excited. The kids head a great time and like the event. They were excited to be coached by the girls of the national U18 team. The parents like to see them playing on the ice,” said Jenny Goessens of IJshockey Nederland, who organizes the girls’ event in the Netherlands.
United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi
As part of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend, the Abu Dhabi Ice Sports Club organized a women’s hockey game at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi between two women’s teams from different emirates, the local Abu Dhabi Storms and the Dubai Gazelles, which the local team won 13-1.
It was a women’s hockey clash between emirates and also cultural mix of local players and expats from other countries living in the United Arab Emirates trying the coolest sport on earth in the heat of the Arab peninsula.
“They were all happy to have this event and are excited to do it every year. It was interesting to organize the event in a friendly atmosphere,” said Maher Dahoud, Assistant Sport Director of the Abu Dhabi Ice Sports Club.
“It was a great event to raise awareness for ice hockey for women, to develop women’s ice hockey in the region and also for social communication between cultures.”
Long-time Slovak national team goalie Zuzana Tomcikova organized a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in the country’s capital, Bratislava. About 30 girls came to the event that took place at the ice rink of the Avion Shopping Park. The youngest girl was just three year old, the oldest 17.
Tomcikova was joined by other celebrity helpers: former NHLers Lubomir Visnovsky and Richard Lintner, Olympic silver medallist in shooting Zuzana Rehak-Stefecekova and four ice hockey Olympians from Vancouver 2010.
The girls started with mini-games and then tried different stations on the ice or skating lessons for the youngest. After a break including an autograph sessions the girls continued on the ice and received prizes in the end.
“The parents were happy, many people were stopping by to see what was going on since it was in a mall, so I think we raised awareness about the women’s game in the community,” Tomcikova said. “Most importantly I hope the kids had fun and saw that there are many girls playing hockey. Hopefully new friendships will be built between them and they will continue with the sport.”
The Japan Ice Hockey Federation organized its World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend at the Shinyokohama Skate Center. The venue in Yokohama has a good history for women’s hockey as the national team qualified for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games there.
Today it was the next generation on the ice with 74 girls between 6 and 12 years of age. It was a great and long afternoon for them. First they heard first-hand what former Olympians told them about the sport and about dreams when they were at that age. The message was: never give up chasing your dream.
After that the girls eventually hit the ice themselves for a warm-up and a two-hour session to try hockey.
“Many of participants have never experienced ice hockey before and it was a very interesting sport for them compared to other sports they had played. Parents said that this event provided a good option to choose the best sport for their girls,” said Toshi Takahashi of the Japan Ice Hockey Federation.
“It has a big impact for us and also our sponsors and partners. It’s great to see the children’s smile while they tried ice hockey. They showed us that it’s a fun sport. We hope to expand the event in the future to have it organized nationwide by local associations.”
20 girls between the age of 4 and 20 came to the small ice sheet of the LibertyMall in the Romanian capital of Bucharest to try hockey. It was a two-hour session reserved for fun and ice hockey. Some first learned to skate, others started straight with hockey. Later they played a small-area game and had time for photo sessions.
“The participants and the parents where very excited, they had fun and they encourage their girls to play the game. I’d say that was a positive reaction from all the members involved and we expect them back at the rink for practice. We hope that will increase the number of girls playing the game,” said George Pogacean, head coach of Triumf Bucharest.
In the Romanian capital the hockey community is fighting to bring the sport back after the closure of the only full-size ice rink at the signs are good with this participation and a new full-size rink opening later this month. Read later this weekend our feature on Bucharest on IIHF.com.
The ice rink at the Akropolis shopping mall in Kaunas hosted Lithuania’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event this year with 50 participants from 2 to 35 years old.
After being welcomed on Saturday noon with balloons and candies, the girls started with free skating to warm up before games were played on the ice with balloons and sticks while those on the ice for the first time got a crash course in skating. Later the group played 3-on-3 mini games followed by a game of the club Hockey Girls and every girl got a puck with the Hockey Girls logo.
“The kids were surprised and very happy, they enjoyed the event. I hope that new kids will come to ice hockey. It is the main goal. And this event is very good to popularize ice hockey in general,” said Egle Zemlickiene, administrator at Hockey Lietuva.
The town of Gore on the South Island of New Zealand was one of three venues in the country and women and girls from beginners to established players, from 9 to 45 years old, came together for a fun event.
The Southern Storm Women’s Ice Hockey Team first had its practice to prepare for the next game before it was joined by the new hockey friends who were helped into equipment to join on the ice for an hour of obstacle courses, competitions, to test their shooting, passing, puck handling and play small-area games. In the evening they played their own games.
“We were a small group, Gore is a small town and we were very happy to see new faces wanting to learn about hockey and give it a go,” said head coach Lyndal Heineman.
“Everyone enjoyed themselves, the rep players were kind and helpful, they also developed their own game as they assisted our New Hockey Friends. There were big smiles, tired muscles and a new interest stirred not only in the sport of Ice Hockey but also in the different positions and jobs around the game.”
“This weekend is a growing focal point for many ladies and girls here and will continue to be so as our ladies are already talking about what they can do for this weekend... next year! It is the first time I can remember seeing our region able to produce two separate women’s games in two different towns at the same time. Our numbers are growing, the profile is growing and this weekend is part of it!”
One of the first events this weekend took place in Botany near Auckland. It was one of several events as New Zealand joined the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. 20 female players and 15 helpers were on the ice, among them women’s national team head coach Andreas Kaisser and several women’s national team players such as Helen Murray, Ashley Cunningham and Tessa Broadbent, and former men’s national team player Darren Blong.
Amber Sims and Lillianja were the youngest players at five but they already knew how to skate while trying ice hockey for the first time. There were several figure skaters and inline hockey players who wanted to try out ice hockey as well and girls and women from New Zealand and abroad who wanted to get involved with the sport in the Auckland region.
The participants already met at 9:30 in the morning to get the gear and warm up before being split into small groups to learn simple drills. Four were goalies and practices with goalie coach and Vice President of the Auckland Ice Hockey Association, Paul Taillon. At the end of the sessions the girls played 4-on-4 cross-ice games.
“The participants I spoke to all really enjoyed it – ‘It was great fun’ was the comment most made,” said Philippa Kaisser, the New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation’s U18 women’s team manager, who was happy about the involvement of the local community as the Auckland Council paid for the ice time and is keen to promote girls playing sports.
“I hope that by offering this event, we will get more girls playing our awesome sport,” Kaisser said.
The first of two World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in Germany took place in Frankfurt. 44 participants came starting a four years and ending at over 30-year-olds. Seven people helped them including former national team player Franziska Busch from the German Ice Hockey Association, persons from the local skating school, coaches from the junior club, organizer Siamak Nassi, who’s coaching the local women’s team, and a professional player from the local men’s team, Roman Pfennings with more players and staff helping off the ice.
The help started first in the locker room because for many it was the first time they tried hockey equipment. After getting ready for the session they hit the ice for two hours in different groups to try out several exercises and in the end play a game.
“The feedback was very positive from the girls, helpers and family and friends joining the girls was very positive,” said Nassi. “Two girls join the senior team for a tryout and several girls will join practices at the youth teams.”
In France the girls’ days are spread across several days and 11 cities. One of the events took place in Grenoble, an Olympic city and traditional hockey town next to the French Alps. Almost 30 girls and women from young kids to adult took part at the event and visible enjoyed the experience as one can see at the group photo after the try-hockey session.