Welcome to the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend tracker on 12/13 October 2013. We keep you updated here with events in 31 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.
Mark your calendar: Next year's World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend will be on 11/12 October 2014.
This year the Japanese Ice Hockey Federation together with the Japanese Women’s Ice Hockey League organized an event in the hockey hotbed of the country, the northern island of Hokkaido.
42 girls came to the event in the city of Kushiro where ice hockey was introduced to them in an enjoyable and fun way and with the help of the local women’s teams. A good timing since the Japanese women’s national team qualified for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games.
USA: Allen, TX
40 participants came to the Allen Community Ice Rink in Texas that organized the event with girls and ladies between 4 to 53 years of age.
Registration opened already early in the morning before the participants met volunteer to get help with the equipment. On the ice participants went through four stations for skating, passing, shooting and a relay race.
“The participants loved the event! A lot of the participants signed up for Learn to Skate classes and are interested in enrolling in our youth or adult hockey programs,” Kendall Hanley said about the success of the event.
“While we are in Dallas, Texas, it is difficult to get girls and women interested in this amazing game. There are a lot of other sports to compete with that are less expensive and are considered ‘traditional’ sports in this area,” Hanley said. “I think this event had a huge impact on our community because it gave girls of all ages a chance to try this great game. Many of them were very surprised at how quickly they picked it up and are excited to play again.”
Canada: Hartney, MB
60 participants ranging in age from 4 to 11 came to Hartney for the event organized by the Westman Wildcats.
The girls were split into two groups born 2001-2004 and 2005 and younger for an on-ice session, a supper with the Wildcats, a dryland session and a scrimmage before attending the Wildcats’ game against the Winnipeg Avros.
“Watching them go through some of the drills and the huge smiles on their faces was the best reaction from the day,” said Carole Williams.
“Having that many girls come together is great for our community and helps promote the sport. We look forward to hosting more events in the years to come.”
Canada: Penticton, BC
The Kamloops Minor Hockey Association’s Midget Female Recreation Team organized this event with teenagers between the age of 15 to 18 attending and playing back-to-back games.
Although the girls lost the games 6-3 and 8-4 against the Penticton team it was a fun event for the girls with vocal support from their parents.
“It would be nice to see Minor Hockey Associations participate as a group in their districts to raise awareness of female hockey in Canada,” said coach Jason Perris.
Canada: Campbellton, NB
New Brunswick ROC 8 organized this event in Campbellton in conjunction with the Restigouche North Minor Hockey Association and the Campbellton Junior A team attended by 20 girls between the age of 5 and 17.
It was a pleasure for them to work with the Junior A team and its coach, Troy Ryan.
“The girls were pretty excited that they could change in the Junior A room as no girl has ever been in that room before. So it was a first,” said Sylvie Gallant. “Our little town finally had all girls on the ice and it was a first for some of these girls also. We had all levels of hockey players out there and even the older more talented girls would help the little ones out.”
Gallant also hopes that events like this will help forming a girls’ team for next year.
Genève Futur Hockey organized an event during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in Geneva, the biggest francophone city of Switzerland, for the third time in a row and again it turned out to become a big event.
Mostly it was teenage girls who came while the youngest participant was seven years old and the oldest 58.
After a morning snack the participants were split into several groups depending on their skill level. They had the chance to see the dressing room of the local men’s professional team before getting their own gear.
On the ice the girls were not only helped by coaches from the youth hockey club but also by coaches and four players from the Genève-Servette men’s professional team including Jean Savary, Nicolas Leonelli, John Fritsche and the teams’ scoring leader Cody Almond.
“The reactions and comments were all positive,” said Ksenia Fliguil of Genève Futur Hockey and the participants thankful for making girls’ and women’s hockey accessible with this annual festival of female hockey.
“They were also delighted to skate and play hockey with their male idols and learn from them.”
Women’s hockey came into existence in the club thanks to this event. It started from scratch and has now regular practices during winter and a local mini-league with three teams and managed to play a couple of friendly games with other clubs.
In many cities the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend helped form new girls’ teams and increase female participation. In Georgia it even is the launch of a women’s program.
In the country’s second-biggest city Kutaisi where ice hockey has been introduced only recently, the first female hockey players ever in the country hit the ice.
Ten girls between the age of 11 and 14 years with figure skating experience took part in the program on Saturday. Although not big in quantity, the event was a remarkable premiere organized by one of the youngest IIHF members.
“The event was really fun. They really enjoyed it. I hadn’t expected before that it would be so fun for the girls,” the Georgian Ice Hockey Federation’s General Secretary Alexander Vashakidze said.
“In Georgia like in other southern countries people are skeptic about women playing a so-called ‘men’s game’ but these girls had a lot of fun and their parents were happy.”
Click here for a featured story about the Georgian premiere.
It’s five years left until the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. Therefore Korea didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to promote women’s hockey during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
At the ice rink of the Korea University in Seoul, 30 participants came to play hockey with 13 women’s national team players. The participants ranged from kids to teenagers to women who were students at the university or office workers. But they all had the same slogan: “We love hockey!”
The participants got used to the hockey equipment with a bright smile and the national team coaches joined and shared their hockey stories, knowledge and skills.
“I am from another city which is two hours away from Seoul. I came here to participate in the Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. It wasn’t a tough decision for me to come because I was so excited to join hockey and I am so happy now,” one of the girls said.
During two hours of ice time the participants practised together with the national team and the coaches.
“I was very honoured to play ice hockey with members of the national team and had fun with them. They taught me how to skate and how to pass the puck and how to communicate on the ice. It was a great opportunity for hockey beginners,” said Han Sol Song, a university student.
One of the girls’ parents said: “Thank you for hosting this wonderful hockey event. My daughter wants to be a national team player and it was a rare chance to be coached by national team coaches and players. She never stopped smiling during the event.”
The event was sponsored by the presidents of the two most famous men’s club teams in the country, the Asia League’s Anyang Halla and High1 teams.
“I was so glad to host this event for girls and I hope more girls and women will become interested in ice hockey. After this event, I decided to join an ice hockey team too. We Love Hockey!” said Song Yi Park of the Korea Ice Hockey Association, who was in charge of this event.
“Hockey hielo para chicas” was the slogan in Jaca during the weekend at the ice rink Pabellón de Hielo.
40 female players came to the event organized by CH Jaca divided into the age groups 5-14, 15-30 and 30-40.
On Saturday there was a promotional event for women’s hockey and a camp of the women’s national team before a game of the men’s league between Jaca and Majadahonda in the night.
On Sunday during the promotional event girls and women new to hockey had again the chance to hit the ice after a practice of the women’s national team.
“The participants were very happy,” said Karlos Gordovil of the Spanish Ice Sports Federation. “They are interested in participating ice hockey in the future. The parents of the youngest girls were very interested in the continuation of this event.”
Also local media was present and a story was aired in radio on Monday.
“Events like this contribute to the continuous promotion of women’s ice hockey in Spain,” Gordovil said. “In addition, it helps to increase the Spanish clubs’ motivation to introduce women’s ice hockey within their activities.”
USA: Simsbury, CT
The CT Northern Lights Girls Hockey, Simsbury Youth Hockey, West Hartford Youth Hockey organized this event at the International Skating Center of Connecticut.
Nine young girls of the ages 4-11 in addition to 16 girls from local high schools and collegiate teams as helpers were on the ice.
The girls played games like “Tag” and “Polar Bears and Penguins” before the coach worked with smaller groups on individual skills like cross-overs, stick handling and puck control. Then they could use their skills in an obstacle course and a final relay race.
The young kids were busy smiling and laughing while the organizers got many “thumbs up” from their parents.
“It was great for the younger girls to see the older girls who play at the high school and college level, and know that hockey can continue to be a part of their lives as they grow up,” added Amy Fairchild, Operations Manager of the International Skating Center of Connecticut.
She hops girls’ hockey will be growing and looks forward to hosting another event next year.
The first ever girls’ weekend in Serbia took place at the Pingvin ice rink in Novi Beograd at the outskirts of Belgrade.
With 11 registered ice hockey players in the country there’s room to increase this number and the event with 30 participants between the age of 3 and 13 is definitely a big boost.
The girls had a 90-minute on-ice session focusing on positioning, balance, skating stride, stopping, turning, stationary stick-handling and passing followed by an off-ice session. On the second day the Serbian Ice Hockey Association organized a cross-ice tournament as part of the IIHF Learn to Play Program.
“All participants were happy and had a good time. They enjoyed the fun and safe environment. Parents were satisfied with the program and club members present had positive reactions on this event. They offered their support in organizing similar events in the near future,” said Nemanja Ivovic, Development Program Administrator of the Serbian Ice Hockey Association.
“We sincerely hope that the final outcome of this event will be bigger interest of girls for ice hockey that will enable us to form girls’ teams in the near future. Also, we hope for even bigger interest of girls for the next event we plan to organize.”
Hungary hosted two World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in Budapest organized by national team defender Nikolett Huszarne Simon. Among the instructors was also Gömöri Csaba, head coach of the senior and U18 women’s national teams.
On the ice the girls learned about skating techniques, accident prevention, stickhandling, passing and shooting and also had the chance to hug Hungarian mascot Slider before watching an exhibition game with U18 and U15 players.
On Saturday 25 young girls aged 3-5 years came to the Tüske ice rink, a seasonal rink that opened just one week earlier.
The same program was held on Sunday at the Ujpest ice rink just 500 metres away from the venue of the upcoming U18 Women’s World Championship with 50 participants between 4 and 9 years of age.
“The girls were very happy to be here, and all of them would like to play hockey,” said Huszarne Simon. “Our U15 girls’ program and women’s program will become stronger thanks to this event. We have new ice rinks and should have more girls who play hockey.”
Parents asked about the closest hockey teams their girls could join and were helped finding one by the organizers.
For next year the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation hopes that clubs in the other cities – Szekesfehervar, Dunaujvaros and Miskolc – will also host events to recruit new girls.
Click here for a featured story about Hungarian girls’ hockey.
Even with more and more girls playing hockey, the ones picking up the sports today are still pioneers. And pioneers have to be able to think outside of the box, and be flexible – which is exactly what many female players are.
In Hämeenlinna, the two dozen girls in the HPK team are between 8 and 13 in age, so they play in two different leagues, and juggle their hockey playing with other hobbies, like gymnastics or music.
But maybe the five new girls who attended the Girls Hockey Day and got their first taste of skating and stickhandling, will now join the team and help build girls' hockey in Hämeenlinna.
"For our organization it's important to get more girls to join the club and give them the chance to climb up the ranks within the club," says Botond Vereb-Dér, head coach of the team.
Netherlands: Maaseik (Belgium)
The Netherlands’ Girls Only Weekend was organised for the third year on a row.
A big animator, organizer and promoter for women’s hockey in the Netherlands, Marlies Goessens, was celebrating her 25th anniversary as a hockey volunteer and received many presents from “her” girls.
For the last two years Glanerbrook in Geleen was the venue for the event but due to a broken ice machine the event was moved to Maaseik, just across the border in Belgium.
The girls, irrespective of their age and experience, were split into eight teams. Young and small players played together and against older and more experienced players. For example U10 and U12 kids played together with and against national team players. The younger girls looked up to the national team players and learned a lot during this weekend; the experienced players enjoyed the teaching.
“The girls of the national team enjoyed being here to teach other girls how to play hockey. Girls that looked up at their ‘big sisters’ and hopefully these girls will be affected with hockey virus too. These young girls will be the future for women’s hockey in our country,” said Willem van de Kraak, the coach of the Netherlands’ women’s national team.
“It was a great weekend with a lot of fun and great games,” said Mandy, one of the players. “We learned a lot from the national team players. I will look forward to next year’s Girls’ Only Event the whole year!”
Latvia: Riga & Jelgava
Three girls’ hockey events were organized in Latvia by the women’s hockey clubs Team L&L and JLSS. Two in the capital of Riga in the famous Arena Riga and the Hockey School Riga rink and one in Jelgava 40 kilometres away.
On Saturday evening the first event started at the Hockey School Riga. On Sunday in Jelgava girls watched first a great performance of the figure skating school before more than 20 girls tried to skate before played a mini tournament.
Then the girls went over to Arena Riga, the venue of the 2006 IIHF World Championship where they met Latvian hockey star Sandis Ozolins. For the girls it was living a dream to practice at Latvia’s biggest hockey arena and later they could watch the KHL game between Dinamo Riga and Metalurg Magnitogorsk.
Wiesloch, a city of 26,000 inhabitants near Heidelberg, was again part of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend and the local club EHC Wiesloch had ten girls between the age of 5 and 26 as its guests.
After getting some information about how to wear equipment the girls hit the ice early Saturday morning. At the beginning some girls could hardly skate over the ice without falling down but by the end of the sessions all girls were able to skate over the ice sheet with a stick without falling.
The advanced girls worked on hockey skills with Maren Valenti, a former German women’s national team player who participated at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
“The girls had much fun and most of them want to come to the regular practice to improve their skills and learn to play ice hockey,” said Bernhard Eppinger. “The parents and the coaches were excited to see how fast their girls made progress in skating.
“We are sure that most of the girls will come to our practices in the near future. We think we have brought girls’ ice hockey in the mind of many people with this event and our promotion efforts.”
Women’s hockey in Hong Kong is a new phenomenon. And despite only recently forming a national team, the women are aiming high.
The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend held at the Mega Ice centre in Kowloon Bay is where the next crop of players is hoped to be sourced – both for the national team and the newly created women’s-only league, which held its first-ever game on October 4.
“Everybody had a lot of fun,” event organiser Jeremy Hutchins told IIHF.com.
“It was a great platform for our women’s national team, the women’s league and girl’s hockey in general.”
Ninety girls aged from three to 60 attended the Hong Kong event, with national league players helping to coach and mentor the beginners.
One end zone was used for first time or beginner skaters, while the area in between the blue lines and other end zone were you used for more experienced skaters they learnt skating and puck handling, as well as a fun game with the nets.
“Having the national team players coach created a really positive and fun experience for everybody.
“There were a lot of laughs and a lot of falling down for some, but everybody had a great time!”
Click here for a featured story from Hong Kong and about women’s hockey developments in Asia.
Great Britain: Nottingham
The second World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend event took place at the National Ice Sports Centre in Nottingham. Below is a video from the event.
USA: San Jose, CA
The San Jose Sharks are the NHL’s hottest team so far this year, and apparently that excitement has translated to the junior programs the California club sponsors. World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend was another highlight.
At Shark Ice, the official practice facility, 40 participants showed up on October 12 and another 38 on October 13. Ages generally ranged from 5 to 12, but there were also some 13- and 14-year-olds.
Checking in with Sheela Mohan-Peterson of the Jr. Sharks Girls Program about the weekend’s activities, it’s hard not to get excited about the future of hockey for girls in the Bay Area.
“We gave out special gifts to the participants and provided refreshments after the session in our rink restaurant,” said Mohan-Peterson. “In the restaurant we had volunteer parents and coaches who talked about additional hockey opportunities for the participants. These included additional hockey skating lessons, in-house recreational programs, and opportunities with the San Jose Jr. Sharks Girls teams (especially at the 8U level). Our girls’ teams parents are so enthusiastic about our program. They are our best sales people!”
Mexico held for the first time a female hockey weekend as part of the kick-off for the Mexican women’s hockey league’s third season.
Five clubs from four states assembled but there were also sessions for the national team – that will play in the IIHF Women’s World Championship program for the first time next spring – and a new U16 national selection.
Who's afraid of the iceman? Who's afraid of the iceman? Well, that was the question when ten girls hit the ice at Kiekko-Karhut's event in Virrat, Finland. The answer was "nobody", and the girls, aged 4 through 10, went on to practice stickhandling, passing, and of course, scoring goals.
Many mothers joined their daughters out on the ice. Instructors were members of the Kiekko-Karhut women's team.
"We hope the GHD weekend makes girls interested in hockey so much that we could start a new team only for girls. We hope that more people will realize that hockey is not a hobby only for boys," said Sanna Peura at Virtain Kiekko-Karhut.
What better way to start your new life as a hockey player than to see how the top players do it and then try it out for yourself?
In Linköping, the local club gathered about 40 girls, ages 6 through 15, at the Cloetta Center, to watch the Linköping's women's team play a Swedish league game - they beat AIK Stockholm 4-3 in overtime - and then practice together.
The ice was filled with players forming an under-13 team, an over-13 team, a women's team, and new beginners who tried the sport for the first time.
And then there was coffee and cookies for all.
USA: Katonah, NY
Bedford Katonah Youth Hockey hosted a fun and productive World Girls’ Ice Hockey Day event at the Harvey School on October 12.
Instructors at the one-hour clinic at Evarts Rink included college standouts like Jennifer Bye (Harvard captain in 1993) and Brianna Rossi (forward for Cortland for four seasons).
“Just having those two college players on the ice, for us, was huge,” said Mike Bonelli, USA Hockey’s East Section Coaching Education Program Coordinator. “It’s so hard to get those role models.”
About 20 girls attended, seven of whom were 8 and younger.
“It was a great opportunity,” said Bonelli. “A lot of the new parents don’t even know that there’s an option for girls-only hockey. Back in the day, you had to play with the boys up until the prep school age. Brianna, for instance, played with boys right up through high school.”
The Bedford Bears follow the American Development Model, which provides an opportunity for more kids to stay in the program longer. One father pointed out to Bonelli that it builds a foundation for communities like Katonah, so that girls in the community don’t have to leave when they become pee wees, for instance.
In Hønefoss, the home of Ringerike Ice Hockey Club, some 60 kilometers north of Oslo, the Girls Hockey Day was all about playing the game, as the club organized a five-team tournament for players between the ages of nine and 15.
"We had five matches on both Saturday and Sunday, from nine to five. About two dozen girls slept over in the arena. They were together with girls from the other teams," says Ringerike's Finn Holm.
The women's team Ice Dream Kosice played an exhibition game against the band No Name and won it 7-4 in front of 300 spectators. After the game, girls had the chance to compete in different disciplines.
"It was fun for all participants. We hope new girls will join who want to work hard to play ice hockey for a few years," said Eva Molekova of Ice Dream Kosice.
In men’s hockey, Tappara and Ilves are known as rivals in the Finnish hockey town of Tampere. In women’s hockey they span together and recruit new players during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
The good old Hakametsä Areena the clubs share was busy with all kinds of players, old and young, beginners and oldtimers.
“It was a great day, we had 30 girls who hadn’t played hockey before. The youngest ones were four years old, the oldest ones 12,” says Sari Suoniemi, who’s in charge of women’s hockey at Ilves.
“And, we also had 20 girls from our under-12 team, 16 players from our women’s team, Finnish national team goalie Meeri Räisänen, as well as a few men, Ilves’s goaltender Ville Kolppanen and defenceman Atte Pentikäinen,” she adds.
“Tappara’s [Stanley Cup champion] Ville Nieminen and defenceman Teemu Aalto were also on the ice,” says Suoniemi.
And here you can watch a video in Finnish on the weekend in Finland.
USA: Kingston, RI
Size isn’t everything. Want proof? Look no further than the University of Rhode Island. Situated in America’s smallest state, it attracted about 35 girls between the ages of three and 10 to its World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event on Saturday at Boss Arena.
“The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event will have a positive impact on the community,” said Beth McCann, head coach of the university’s women’s hockey team. “It will get younger girls involved with local programs and help build girls’ hockey in Rhode Island. This being such a small state, it helps girls from all over the state get exposure to the game and learn the fundamentals. It also gives them an inside look at what they have to look forward to in the future and motivates them to continue with their game.”
The participants enjoyed working with their instructors, including Boston Blades players Christie Jensen and Ashley Cottrell from the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Not only did they brush up their shooting, passing, and stickhandling skills during the on-ice session, but they also learned about teamwork, fitness, and nutrition off the ice with the university skaters. They received jerseys, skate laces, stickers, and pamphlets.
“The parents really liked being able to watch and photograph their kids and they bonded with them during off-ice activities,” said McCann.
Somewhere in Haninge, just outside Stockholm, there are now little girls who dream of winning an Olympic medal. That's simply what happens when a little player sees an Olympic medal, like the 60 girls who showed up for the Girls Hockey Day event today.
Former Swedish National Team players Gunilla Andersson, Jenny Lindqvist and Maria Larsson were also there, with their medals from the Olympics, World Championships and Swedish Championships.
During the afternoon, they also got to try playing hockey on the ice, of course, but they also had a chance to try their hand at some off-ice drills, like shooting and passing, and gymnastics.
Towards the end, Haninge Anchors under-10 team's girls played an exhibition game against Hässelby/Kälvesta.
Outside the rink, there was also a hockey equipment sale, making it easy for the newcomers to get their starter kit, and for the others to make deals when they upgrade theirs.
"The girls liked it. Parents thought it was good that the young ones could see that there were older girls playing," says Mia Larsson at Haninge Anchors Hockey Club.
Take Norway's biggest hockey club, with a thousand members, and then consider that they only have players from skating school to under-18, don't have a men's team, but do have a women's elite league team, and ask yourself a question: would a Girls Hockey Day be popular?
The answer from Stavanger is a loud yes.
Even if the Girls Hockey Day happened to be on a weekend that marked the fall break in Norway, and many families were traveling.
This year, 29 girls showed up, all beginners, not one a member of a team. Not yet.
The event was kicked off with a welcome meeting in which two girls from the Stavanger under-13 team told about their hockey life. And on the ice, the girls were divided into two groups for the skating drills.
Afterwards, everybody got a Girls Hockey button and a medal. All 29 girls said they wanted to come back to the hockey school, and they can't wait to join a real team.
Fortuna ry, the hockey club for this Western Finland town, held a fun and varied event on Sunday for World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. It took place at Oriveden Jäähalli, the local rink.
With 11 girls aged between four and 13 participating, the event kicked off at 10:30 am. The girls got suited up, and were all given pink vests.
They enjoyed an hour on the rink with five instructors, including Anna Kilponen, an 18-year-old Orivesi native who plays defence on the Finnish national team. They practiced gliding and stickhandling, played tag, and had a game with mini-goals.
Juice and sandwiches at the on-site cafeteria wrapped the event up. The girls went home happily with commemorative diplomas and pink bracelets.
“For the participants we will have another event, hopefully in October,” said Ville Lehmus, who heads up Fortuna ry’s hockey school. “If the girls are interested enough, we will continue once a month – time will tell. We noticed lots of smiling faces from the participants, parents and instructors.”
Last year, Tim Veale came across a few photos, and what he saw stunned him. In the photos that were 15-20 years old, there were not just one, but two Esbjerg women’s teams.
And today, there are none.
Today, after a successful Girls Hockey Day – which turned into a celebration of hockey – there may just be enough interest to build a new team.
All in all, about 40 people crowded the ice in Esbjerg, many of the teenagers and older.
In this Finnish village, Panelian Raikas (PaRa) went all out to host its World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event, and it paid off. Twenty-one girls between ages five and 11 took part.
They enjoyed practicing their skating, and got their pictures taken with the “Canada” championship trophy and national team members Eveliina Suonpää and Laura Hakala.
They also received diplomas, cards, and bangles to commemorate their participation. The two-hour session concluded on a sweet note with warm juice and biscuits.
“One of the comments we heard was, ‘I don’t want to stop skating yet, can we stay?’” said PaRa’s Sari Uoti. “I think we’ll get some new players for our female team, including a goalie. We also had two stories in local newspapers about this event, and that is good for a small club like ours.”
Karlskrona is known as the home of the Swedish Coast Guard, but this baroque city of 35,000 inhabitants is also forging a reputation for growing women’s hockey. This weekend, Telenor Arena Karlskrona hosted 19 new aspiring female hockey players between the ages of six and 15.
Members of Karlskrona HK’s women’s team helped the new girls out with their equipment, and spoke to their parents about the value of women’s hockey. A practice and a game took place.
“There were girls from different cultures, and it’s really good to have more of that,” said spokesperson Conny Olausson. “The girls said it was good to have time to practice with only girls on the ice. It was also interesting to meet other girls and talk in the dressing room. In the long term, more girls will start to play hockey and this will be positive for both our club and our community.”
One of the largest events during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend was again the one in Zilina with 300 people present at the arena to open the door for new female players in the Slovak city.
First girls and women had the chance to play a game with the local women’s hockey team, then in late afternoon it was time for the core part of the “Kids Day on Ice”. In total 300 people were either on or off the ice during the try-hockey session that covered all the ice sheet for skating and hockey skills.
Among the star guests who helped the kids were Slovak women’s national team player Jana Kapustova, who normally plays for Europe’s strongest club team Tornado Moscow Region, and 15 players from the local men’s professional team MsHK Zilina who came back to the ice after their league game earlier that day.
The Streatham Storm Women’s Ice Hockey Club hosted a girls’ event at the Planet Ice in Brixton, London. 33 girls and women aged between 8 and 55 came to the rink in the British capital.
The participants even featured a family with daughter, mother and grandmother. Among the participants aged over 50 were a group of former speed skaters who participated in Olympics and World Championships and enjoyed themselves trying another ice sport.
Nine members of the Storm team assisted the girls and women with equipment and answered questions before going to the ice together with three coaches from the English Ice Hockey Association. One of the coaches was long-time British women’s national team captain Fiona King, who still plays at the age of 40.
The ice sheet was split into three zones and groups according to their abilities. To get used to the ice the participants started first in a very British way: with football. Then they practised different skills and had a scrimmage accompanied with squeals of excitement and loud cheers when goals were scored. In total the players were on the ice for one-and-a-half hour.
After that everybody came together for a team photo and wanted to know where they can continue with ice hockey. A leaflet was ready for the next steps.
“Unfortunately Brixton Rink is closing and we will be moving to a new rink at Streatham but the move is already delayed,” said Sue Parsons of Streatham Storm. “But the EIHA have agreed to come and do another session at Streatham next month when we open.”
And of course the club hopes that the participants will continue at the new venue and to form a second women’s team.
“Everyone said the event was a success – the spectators, parents, rink staff, volunteers, players and participants,” Parsons said. “They all want more sessions and many commented about how the exercise was good for them and they wanted to do it regularly. For me success was measured by a smile, every participant who got off that ice had the broadest smile you can imagine.”
For Parsons growing ice hockey in London is a mission. In 1976, when she was 16, she was told she couldn’t play ice hockey because she’s a girl.
“My mission was set,” she remembered. She was instrumental in setting up women’s ice hockey in Great Britain in the ‘80s. After a break she returned playing.
“I felt really proud yesterday that our local event was part of a World Event. To have GB players and coaches on our ice and know that if the girls want to, and are able, they can play at this level!”
Up in northern Sweden, in Umeå, 27 girls started their Sunday in Dragonhallen with a good hour and a half of hockey, led by Trixa Hockey's four coaches on the ice. The youngest ones were five, the oldest twelve, so drills and skating exercises varied in difficulty as the girls skated, dribbled, and learned how to pass the puck.
And of course, how to score goals, and how to celebrate them.
It was the second time the girls were on the ice together, so they were ready to go from the very first second until the last, cheered by their parents in the stands.
“The smile on the girls' faces is the best prize for the organizer,” said Teppo Pirnes, who saw those smiles at the Girls Hockey Day event in Nivala, Finland. A dozen girls, aged between two and nine, showed up at the Nivala rink in the morning, to first learn about the rules and the program of the day. A half hour later they hit the ice for an hour and half.
“For many girls it's important to have the chance to play hockey with other girls,” says Pirnes, president of Nivala Cowboys, the local club.
And some of them got so bitten by the hockey bug that they'll join the beginners' hockey school. And keep smiling.
The ages of the ten girls and women on the ice in Odense, Denmark ranged from three to 49, covering, at least theoretically three generations of players.
They all got their introduction to the world of hockey from the Odense women's team who first helped then put on the equipment, and then ran a few drills on the ice. The tiniest of the participants got a free ride – on sledges the older ones pulled around the ice.
Even the Danish national radio's local correspondent was there, and interviewed the team leader, a mother-daughter team of new hockey players, and a Danish national team player. The show will be aired next week.
Most of the 11 events in Russia are held on Monday or Tuesday during games of the women’s hockey league in Chelyabinsk, Dmitrov, Krasnoyarsk, Mozhaisk, Nizhni Novgorod, St. Petersburg, Tyumen, Ufa, Ukhta and Yekaterinburg.
The exception was the event organized by HK Grad at the ice rink in the “Gorod” shopping mall in the Lefortovo District of Moscow. 28 participants between the age of 3 and 30 came to try hockey and learn from various former national team players and the event organizer Marina Konstantinova, a long-time international on-ice official and former General Manager of the Russian women’s national team.
IIHF.com was in Moscow for the event. Read our featured story here.
USA: Fairport, NY
Perinton Youth Hockey (PYH) staged a small but successful inaugural World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in western New York State. With 15 girls from its program participating, five new girls between the ages of four and 14 showed up. Requests for more information came from over a dozen others.
“The on-ice portion was marketed to be 10 to 11 am,” explained coordinator Michael Rizzo. “We told the families we would be starting registration at 9:15 am. Two representatives from our organization were at the table to greet people and get them signed up. Six coaches and families from existing PYH female players were there to greet people in the lobby, to help escort them to our skate rentals and locker room, to discuss the day’s schedule, to hand out our goodies (we purchased logoed knee hockey sticks and also handed out pink skate laces to every family), and to help players get dressed.”
Current players talked about how they got interested in hockey and showcased their skills under the direction of the six coaches, from skating and stickhandling to passing and shooting. The practice ended with a scrimmage and a two-minute talk. Tasty snacks and more off-ice discussions followed.
“The reactions were good and really the best ‘advertising’ we have is the positive word of mouth from people who get to see us and our girls in action,” said Rizzo. “I think we are already well known for giving a lot of care and attention to all players, and for finding a fun place for every skater to play while trying to keep our costs down.”
The goal now is to continue growing hockey for girls in this part of the state. PYH is already looking forward to a bigger and better World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in 2014.
Canada: Vancouver, BC
About 50 girls aged between 4 and 17 years hit the ice at Vancouver’s Killarney Community Centre on October 11 in celebration of World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
As members of the Vancouver Angels, they competed in shooting and skating drills, and also took part in scrimmages with parents and local hockey fans looking on. Some 15 girls showed up to try hockey for the first time, using plastic sticks and pucks to make their introduction as easy as possible.
It was the second year of hosting an Ice Hockey Weekend event for the Angels, who have 170 registered female players.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) covered the goings-on for an evening TV news feature.
“We’re hoping to promote girls ice hockey so that some girls will think they’re the next Hayley Wickenheiser and hopefully go on,” said Angels president Peter Yee. “There are some girls who are looking forward to university hockey already. I know parents are always hoping for scholarships. So whatever works is great.”
The rink at the Killarney Community Centre is an Olympic legacy facility. Located in East Vancouver, it was rebuilt prior to the 2010 Winter Games, and short track speed skaters used it for practice. Now it’s back to serving the community, and these young women are among the beneficiaries.
Registration locally surged after Canada’s women won gold at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and it’s hoped a similar ripple effect will occur after Sochi.
The University of North Dakota’s women’s hockey program, guided by former Swedish Olympic coach Peter Elander, is a veritable United Nations. Some UND players, all of whom compete internationally, talked about their careers on World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
Michelle Karvinen (Finland) on her dual heritage: I am half Danish and half Finnish and choose to play for Finland because I have had more possibilities with them. In Finland there has been a growing number of girl players for the past five years. It’s amazing to see the development, because when I was little growing up in Denmark, I had no opportunity to play for a girls’ team because there weren’t any. So to see the progression around Europe is amazing.
Becca Kohler (Canada) on how she got started: I was four when I learned how to skate. I have a brother who’s only a year older than me, Tom, who started to play on teams. I would always go and watch, but I would always bug my dad for money to get something from the vending machine. So one day he got so annoyed with me he made me go out on the ice and play with my brother’s team. It all started from there and I'm so glad...I guess if I wasn't so annoying my dad never would have put me on the team.
Gracen Hirschy (United States) on the UND program: Here at UND I have the resources and support, to not only reach my peak, but to keep improving even after reaching it. I love the atmosphere that comes along with being part of this team. Every time we hit the ice or the weight room everyone is fully, 100 percent committed to being a successful team.
Johanna Fallman (Sweden) on why she plays hockey: Because it’s so much fun! It’s by far my favorite thing to do. Seeing young girls at home start playing is incredibly fun, and I know that as long as they continue to play they will get so much out of it on so many levels. Team sports in general are about so much more than just the sport itself.
A very new Slovak ice hockey club founded in Bratislava, HC Petrzalka 2010, is keen on girls’ and women’s ice hockey and organized one of the three events in the country.
Female hockey skaters from the Petrzalka district were welcomed at a new ice rink and introduced to hockey by the women’s senior team of the club, pop star Misha as well as Goooly, the mascot of the 2011 IIHF World Championship in Bratislava and Kosice.
The 60 participants were split between girls from 5 to 18 years and women from 18 to 30 years of age.
“The youngest girls were a little bit shy in the beginning, but then they enjoyed ice hockey with their new friends,” said Beata Risianova, chief organizer of HC Petrzalka 2010. “The smile on their faces and positive reactions from their moms were the most important goals for us today.”
Two girls’ days take place in two different parts of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.
It starts in the morning with a hockey school and street hockey. Late afternoon the players go to the rinks – the Winter Sports Palace on Saturday and the Slavia ice rink on Sunday.
45 young ladies between the age of 14 and 20 years participated in today’s event first with ten teams of four playing against each other on five fields on the street.
“It also was to the delight of the neighbourhood and pedestrians passing by. They were very interested to hear about the IIHF World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend,” said Tzveti Krasteva, one of the organizers.
“We are very happy about this initiative because that’s this is a way to make the sport more popular. It was a great experience for everybody.”
Malaysia: Petaling Jaya
The Malaysia Ice Hockey Federation will again host two events during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. The first one was staged on Saturday at the Sunway Pyramid Ice Rink in Petaling Jaya near the capital of Kuala Lumpur.
It was a special moment for 40 girls between the age of 5 and 18 – an increased number compared to last year – who hit the ice at the shopping mall rink.
The event started with a briefing on the hockey equipment and safety with Iva Seow, the captain of the Malaysian girls’ hockey team Slayers.
For many girls it was the first time ever they were on ice. They went through some basic skating drills and played fun games.
The participants also received a white or pink World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend T-shirt as a souvenir.
“There were lots of happy faces. We look forward to see more happy faces for our second event tomorrow,” said Susan Loh, Secretary of the Malaysia Ice Hockey Federation.
In Vallentuna, Sweden, the Girls Hockey Day also kicked off the fifth girls' hockey school at SDE Hockey. The event's co-star was Elin Holmlöv, one of Sweden's most merited hockey players, a two-time female player of the year.
Meeting and playing hockey with Elin was of course a big event for the girls in the team. The girls also got to ask questions and Holmlöv signed autographs to everybody. Though most of the newcomers had never even heard of the national hockey team, they agreed that Elin was the best at playing "tag" on the ice. Cookies and juice were also popular.
This is the fifth year SDE Hockey has run a hockey school only for girls, the skate was their second WGIHW event. The hockey school is essential for building SDE Hockey's girls' hockey teams; about 70 per cent of the girls in the two youngest teams today come from the girls' hockey school.
Australia: Prestons (Sydney)
38 participants between the ages of 6 to 51 years came to the Liverpool Catholic Club Sports Complex in Prestons near Sydney. The event was hosted by the Liverpool Saints Ice Hockey Club with the help of players from the Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League’s Sydney Sirens.
For many of them hockey was a totally new experiences. Some were figure skaters who wanted to try something new.
“There were lots of smiling faces on the ice during the event. Participants were laughing and the spirit of hockey and having fun was definitely there,” said Anthony Hall, Women’s co-ordinator of Ice Hockey New South Wales.
“Parents and spectators were commenting about how much fun the girls were having and how great it was to see events like this being held for them.”
“In Australia, ice hockey is a minority sport, so any event like this that can generate interest is of benefit. The weekend has raised awareness of ice hockey in the local area, and in particular with the female skaters at the venue. Those who attended were very excited to be part of a global event.”
France held the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events traditionally during a national school sports weekend on 14th and 15th September.
Girls had the chance to try hockey for free during that weekend or during the season in 22 cities across the country from Alsace in the North to greater area of Paris to the Alps and to Marseille at the Mediterranean Sea.
Almost 400 girls have made use of the opportunity so far during the new season. They received bracelets and T-shirts with the slogan “Toutes Hockey” – a French word play that can be read as “everything hockey” or “everything okay”.
Because not all ice rinks have opened yet, the Young Weserstars Bremen will host their event in January again. It is planned to have a try hockey event for girls from 3 to 10 years of age on a Saturday and a girls’ hockey tournament the day after.
At the first such event 70 girls came to the event in Bremen.