World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend
Welcome to the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend tracker on 13/14 October 2012. We kept you updated here with events in 30 countries. The result is a collection of images and reports from a weekend full of fun for girls all over the world. The stories were posted in chronological order as we got them with the newest ones on top. More than 340 events with thousands of girls were part of this global campaign.
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Click here for a list of WGIHW events.
Note: next year the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend will be staged on 12/13 October 2013. If you have any questions or want to be included in the communications for next year, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also Macau, a former Portuguese colony and now a special administrative region of China with 570,000 inhabitants, had its girls’ day. It took place on Sunday morning at the ice rink of the Future Bright Amusement Park.
14 girls came to the event organized by the Macau Ice Sports Federation. First the girls were introduced to ice hockey and its equipment before having lessons in skating, puck handling and scoring goals with two coaches and five volunteers.
After one hour on the ice the girls watched games of Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau International Ice Hockey League.
“The reaction from the girls is good. They told us that although they became tired, they have had fun on the ice,” said Siu Sing John Ng, Secretary General of the Macau Ice Sports Federation. “The parents are also thinking that the volunteers did help a lot by encouraging the children during the ice session. They felt our sport is safe enough and allowed their children to join the hockey practice after the introduction of the protective equipment.”
“Most people in Macau have the wrong perception that ice hockey is a violent sport only for tough guys. By holding this wonderful event, it may correct the misunderstanding to the public.”
Newspapers and Macau’s broadcaster TDM reported from the event, click here for the video about the girls’ day and the championship.
Some NHL franchises and their youth hockey departments also took part in the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. Among them were the Boston Bruins, which hosted the G.O.A.L! for Girls free youth hockey clinic at the Porrazzo Skating Rink in East Boston for girls between the age of 4 and 9.
“We had 30 girls turn out and the on ice portion was run by me, Bruins Alum Tommy Songin, and Bruins Assistant Coach Doug Jarvis,” said Mike Dargin, the Bruins’ Manager of Youth Hockey Development.
Click here for a video from Boston.
The city of Tver near Moscow celebrated the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend with a tournament that included the Tigresses from Tver and teams from Voskresensk and St. Petersburg.
After the opening game representatives of the regional government (Mikhail Sadovnikov, Oleg Lebedev) and national team player Lyudmila Belyakova opened the event in a ceremony.
The three teams took part in skills competitions before the last two games were played.
It was the local team that won the cup after defeating the St. Petersburg Panthers 11-3 and Voskresensk 9-2. After the tigresses celebrated with the trophy the event ended with a goalkeeper contest.
Click here for a story from Tver in Russian.
The Czech Ice Hockey Association organized skills games for girls during intermissions of two games of the women’s hockey league in Kladno and Litvinov.
Twenty girls between the age of 8 and 15 took part.
“They were surprised how easy it was to shoot on the net,” said Martin Loukota, Sport Manager of the Czech Ice Hockey Association.
“For us it was events to improve the perception of women’s hockey and equality in our sport.”
Ten girls between the age of 6 and 14 joined the event organized by EHC Wiesloch near Heidelberg.
The club coach and some younger players of the club helped the newcomers with the equipment before they went to the ice where the girls got individual lessons depending on their skill level.
“The girls and their parents were completely enthusiastic,” the club’s president Bernhard Eppinger said. “The girls had lot of fun and so had their parents. The watching team members were impressed.
“We had already some girls on our teams, but now we think we will get some more and in the long term we even may be able to build up a girls’ team.”
Girls’ days in Russia took place in several cities, many of them near Moscow: Dmitrov, Nizhni Novgorod, Podolsk, Tver and Ukhta.
The events were organized around games of the Russian women’s hockey league so that athletes were able to share their experiences with the girls. In total the events included about 800 people – participants and spectators. The participating girls and ladies were between 10 and 32 years of age.
In Dmitrov it was a full-day event starting with a practice at 9:00 before the game between Russian champion Tornado Moscow Region and Agidel Ufa.
After an autograph session with the players, the club’s coach held a lecture about the development and possibilities in women’s hockey before the ice was made ready for a skills park to test stick and puck handling, shooting and off-ice exercises and games led by V. Golovin from the women’s national team and Tornado coach A. Chistyakov.
Later Tornado’s Dr. Smirnov held a lecture about proper sport nutrition before ending the day with songs and discussions.
There are two ice rinks in the Reykjavik area, and both had their girls’ day. On Sunday it was the turn for the Laugardalur rink just outside of the old town. 19 girls between the age of 5 and 14 were registered, but many more curious girls joined from the other side of the rink that was open for public skating. At the end around 30-40 girls enjoyed the program.
The girls were welcomed by female players from the local club, Skautafelag Reykjavikur, and received their helmet and jersey. The club coach was assisted on the female players of his club including a couple of national team players.
It was a great atmosphere for the participants and organizers and everybody went back with good memories. The national television broadcaster also came to the rink and reported from the event the same evening in the sports news.
No sooner had the West Madison (Wisconsin) Polar Caps and Wisconsin Ice Spirit finished co-hosting their first event for Girls Hockey Day than they were thinking about how to make the 2013 edition bigger and better! That alone attests to the success of the inaugural event, held at the Madison Ice Arena.
Some 20 girls participated in the weekend’s activities which included 90 minutes on ice followed by an “Ice Breaker” afterwards where girls, parents, and coaches enjoyed some pizza and hockey conversation. Some girls had their own equipment, but those who didn’t were outfitted properly before heading to the ice. Once on blades, the girls were given instruction on improving their skating and hockey skills.
New players were assigned a dedicated instructor to show them the basics of hockey and skating, while the more experienced skaters participated in various games, races, and other fun activities including the playing of a pickup game if they wanted.
In all, the event was a great opportunity for many of the girls to skate with each other again and for kids to bring their friends out to the ice and show them how much fun hockey is. Parents were very appreciative of the opportunity to try hockey and were planning on joining one of our two organizations. Club members who were around during the event were very pleased with the turnout and with the fun the girls were having.
The Mid-Atlantic Women’s Hockey Association (MAWHA) hosted a phenomenal event at the Quad Rinks in Westchester, Pennsylvania which attracted some 400 female participants aged 6 to 60.
U10 and U12 Jamboree games began early and ran throughout the day. Female officials were used for all games. Veteran officials were paired with younger for training purposes.
USA Hockey Development Manager Michele Amidon ran an ADM clinic for 30 coaches which included a classroom session, on-ice, station-based training and dry-land training which included players from both the U10 and U12 groups. During this time there was an open skate for all girls coming into the building.
As well, throughout the day, there were U14 Tier II girls’ games being playing as part of a tournament all weekend.
Olympic goaltender Jessie Vetter arrived at 7:00 a.m. and participated in a meet & greet, signing autographs and speaking to all the girls. Vetter also met with the U.S. Women’s Sled Hockey team which played a 1:30pm game against the Wounded Warriors form Washington, D.C. The goaltender on the women’s sled team is 60 years old, and she and Vetter shared stories and she tried on Jessie’s silver medal from Vancouver.
One of the unique stories of the day featured the two companion dogs. Moxie and Ginger belong to two of the sled-team players. They wore sweaters with the number K-9 and sit on the bench with the players during games and practices. Their presence attracted the interest of many of the young hockey players.
As well, it was the collaborative nature of the day that was most impressive. All the players, coaches, teams, and volunteers in the building worked towards a common goal to celebrate women’s and girls’ hockey.
The Minto Complex at the University of Ottawa and Ice House Arena at Carleton University celebrated women’s hockey this past weekend with a series of well-attended events featuring more than 300 players from age 3 to 90. The weekend was promoted by the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.
Friday, October 12, 2013 – Ottawa, ON – Minto Complex, University of Ottawa, University of Ottawa and Carleton University CIS game and alumni activities. 300 participants ranging from 5 year-olds to 90 year olds. We celebrated WGIHW by celebrating CIS alumni from University of Ottawa and Carleton University varsity hockey teams and other CIS alumni living in the region. Approximately 60 different female hockey jerseys were displayed in the arena. University of Ottawa and Carleton University varsity women’s hockey teams opened their season with a game. Local girls hockey teams attended the game.
Saturday, October 13, 2013 – Ottawa, ON – Ice House Arena, Carleton University. Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA), Carleton University and University of Ottawa varsity women’s hockey instructors lead a morning of activities for local girls’ hockey associations and introduced hockey to new participants via the OneGoal program. There were four age group (Novice, Atom, Peewee, Bantam/Midget) practices were attended by 3 different girls hockey associations (Ottawa Girls, Kanata Girls, Gloucester Girls Hockey Associations). The OneGoal program was attended by 20 girls ranging from the age of 3 to 10. The Mother/Daughter session welcomed five mothers and their daughters. In addition, sport nutrition and psychology sessions were offered during the morning and a mini referee clinic was hosted.
The 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship promo team was on site giving away prizes to a lucky few. The OWHA had a display booth up in the main hall way to inform young hockey players as well as parents about future opportunities in Women’s Hockey.
“My daughters wouldn’t have been able to try hockey without this event… this is amazing,” said one mother at the One Goal program.
A dad carrying his pink uniformed sleeping daughter out of the arena added: “She had a blast… but wore herself out. She was asleep as soon as she sat down in the dressing room!”
To celebrate the IIHF’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend, the University of Rhode Island hosted 23 girls aged 4-14 at the Bradford R. Boss Arena located in Kingston, RI.
Each participant was teamed up with a URI Player as a Big/Little Sister and received a folder with information of the break-out sessions, the Boston Blades season schedule, the URI Women’s Ice Hockey Schedule, and a water bottle from USA Hockey.
Participants were initially grouped in three off-ice break-out sessions and rotated every 10 minutes. These sessions focused on nutrition, daily fitness, strength and conditioning, sportsmanship, team philosophy, and the impact sports has on youth and collegiate experiences.
On ice, several stations were established, focusing on one aspect of the game. There were areas for passing, freeze tag, and breakaways.
The girls has photos taken with URI Players and two professional hockey players of the Boston Blades of the CWHL – Mandy Mackrell and Cherrie Hendrickson. Afterwards, there was a Q & A session for the girls with the Boston Blades Players.
Most encouraging, there were four girls who had never been on skates before, yet by the end of the afternoon they were gliding along the ice on their own.
The Fergus Falls Community Ice Arena was the place to be on the weekend as the Fergus Falls Hockey Association hosted a successful event for girls’ hockey weekend in Minnesota. The age range of the girls was impressive as everyone 4-year-olds to high-school players participated in a variety of events.
The youngsters had an open skate while the older girls helped with eight skills stations on ice where various aspects of the game were demonstrated and practiced. In all, 60 girls donned the blades for the event which also served to launch a new season of Otter Girls’ Hockey.
Perhaps most impressive was the relationship between the older skaters and younger as the teenagers happily played the role of mentor to the younger skaters. The event had a positive impact for everyone in Fergus Falls and bodes well for a strong season of girls’ hockey in the area.
More than 150 girls and women from age 4 to over 50 took part in several events in Calgary over the weekend.
Participants arrived early both Saturday and Sunday and took part in off-ice team building activities before going on the ice. Novice/Bantam participants took part in skill development sessions focused on puck control, skating, scoring, and small-area games. First-time participants took part in ESSO Fun Days for youth, ESSO Fun Days for adult women and a Discover Hockey Drop in skate focusing on introducing the basic skills of hockey and rules and terminology of the game.
Players from Team Alberta, which competes in the CWHL and includes Olympic champion Meghan Mikkelson, volunteered as on-ice coaches and took all participants through stations and games.
The weekend wrapped up as participants watched Team Alberta play an exhibition game against the Red Deer College Queens. The ESSO Fun Day, Novice and Atom players were featured in a first intermission mini-game. As well, two lucky players were selected to “Experience a Dream” and join Team Alberta and Red Deer College for their off-ice warm up and on-ice warm up and join the teams for the starting lineup introductions and national anthem.
Some of the girls had played only boys’ hockey, and this weekend was their first experience playing in an all-female environment.
Everything is relative, so even four-year-olds can do high-fives like the girls who came to the Girls’ Hockey Day in Umeå, Sweden. One thing that is absolutely true, though, is that all twenty of the 4-12-year-olds at the Dragonen rink had a good time.
“We had an hour-long ice session after which the girls got juice in the locker room,” says Åsa Thors at Trixa Hockey, the host club.
“The girls had a great time on ice and received a round of applause from the spectators afterwards. The players, coaches, and parents are all looking forward to the next practice. This was a great way to kick off the season,” she adds.
Nearly 200 girls across Prince Edward Island participated in a variety of events and programs over the weekend. At the Cari Arena in Charlottetown, for instance, some 43 skaters aged 4-15 took part in several on-ice sessions to develop both their skill and pleasure in hockey. The girls then attended a University of PEI game that night at the Civic Centre as the Panthers celebrated last year’s championship season. During the first intermission some 20 players and coaches took part in a mini-game much to the delight of everyone involved.
The Credit Union Place Arena was also host to activities in tandem with the ESSO Fun Days program. More than 80 players and coaches checked in and then hit the ice for a free skate and skills instruction. They also received tickets to the Summerside Western Caps Game at 2:00pm that afternoon. The Caps won the Atlantic Championship in 2011-12, and a bantam girls team dropped the ceremonial first puck before the game. A novice team played during the first intermission as well.
Lastly, the Evangeline Arena in that city also drew a crowd of players and instructors. Some 25 new skaters aged 4 to 14 hit the ice for the first time. Across the province and throughout the weekend, the success of the events were tremendous. Hockey was well promoted among young girls, and the girls were exhilarated by the great Canadian pastime.
Whenever Karlskrona Hockeyklubb has held Girls Hockey Days or similar activities, they’ve seen a stream of new girl players coming to the club. And the 2012 event should be no exception.
The two dozen 8-16-year-old girls who came to Karlskona’s Telenor Arena received information in women’s hockey, both in the region and in Sweden in general. After that, their equipment was checked by the club instructors to make sure they were ready to hit the ice. And they were.
“The girls really loved to try hockey and based on what the girls and their parents said afterwards, the best thing was the fact that there were only girls on ice,” says Stefan Stenbeck at Karlskrona Hockeyklubb.
“We believe it's very important to open up the ice for girls only. We also believe that this event is important in spreading information and positive image of girls’ hockey,” he adds.
And now they’re ready to welcome a lot of new players.
They may all be called cowboys, but there sure is room for a few cowgirls in the Nivala club. On Sunday, about a dozen girls aged 4-12 got together for the Nivala Girls’ Hockey Day at the local rink.
One of the instructors was Merja Halmetoja, a Finnish and European champion, who shared her experiences of playing at the top level. She also gave the girls skating and stick handling pointers. Other instructors included players from the Nivala Cowboys NiceHockey women’s team.
“It was really nice to see how much girls liked playing. I think it’s really important that girls can play hockey with other girls,” says Teppo Pirnes, president of the club
“Afterwards, the girls asked us if we could do this every weekend. That was the best thank-you we could get,” Pirnes adds.
Lukko Rauma, one of the major hockey clubs in Finland, held its Girls’ Hockey Day at the Äijänsuo practice rink in Rauma. On the ice were five instructors from Lukko women’s team - Sanni Kämäräinen, Andrea Bevan, Maija Koski, Maija Otamo, and Nina Torikka - and 14 girl players. The youngest one was five years old.
Each girl got hockey stick to keep.
“We made sure the sticks were the right length and taped. Then the girls practiced basic hockey skills for an hour. After the ice session the girls and their parents had a chance to ask questions about girl ice hockey in our club,” says Petri Varjonen, Rauman Lukko.
“Most of the girls said skating and playing is hard but at the same time it’s also so much FUN. Parents noticed it too. The girls seemed to enjoy every moment on the ice,” he adds.
Lukko is just starting to organize its girls’ hockey operations.
“We hope that people will see that hockey isn’t just for boys. Girls can play the game, too. As the girls said it: ‘it’s so much fun’,” says Varjonen.
In Kolari, Finland, a small town a hundred kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, hockey has been more than under the radar for many people for quite some time, and the local club, KoTU hasn’t even had a junior team in the Finnish federation’s system.
A new rink built last year has revived hockey, and when it was time for the Girls’ Hockey Day, 28 girls showed up at the Koivu Hall - named after Saku, Mikko, and Jukka Koivu, honorary patrons of the arena - to participate in the festivities.
“We don’t have a girls’ team here, yet,” says Tero Räisänen at KoTU.
“Almost all of the girls that came today, have taken in part in our hockey school. Last year we had 90 kids in the hockey school, this year about 80. The new arena kickstarted hockey here, and now there’s a lot of enthusiasm around hockey again,” he adds.
The event was an open house, and the girls could come and go as they pleased between 2 and 4 in the afternoon, but Räisänen says that everybody came as soon as the doors were opened, and happily worked on their skating and hockey skills with the instructors.
"We also had a guest star, Ilves Tampere player Viivi Vaattovaara, who traveled 800 kilometres from Tampere to Kolari to be with us. She was a great ambassador of the sport on the ice and off it. As stars are supposed to be," Räisänen says.
Click here for a featured story from Kolari.
The girls’ campaign of Latvian women’s hockey champion Laima Riga took place in two parts.
On 7th October they took the ice during a game of KHL club Dinamo Riga. Veteran national players Aija Apsite and Inese Geca Miljone entered a crowded Arena Riga with young girls from different regions including their own daughters to show the community that also girls play hockey.
“Inese Geca Miljone went on the ice together with her daughter Liga Miljone, one of the most talented young players, and we hope to see them together on the ice also in April in the Women’s World Championship Division I Group A games,” said Anna Verhoustinska of Laima Riga. “The youngest participant in this event was only 5 years old, but she already trains in ice hockey for two years.”
10,000 fans were at the arena to applause the girls and to be invited to come to the Women’s Olympic Qualification event in November in Valmiera.
The second part came one week later. 30 to 40 participants came to the ice rink near the Sports Academy in Riga to learn to play ice hockey. They were between 4 and 40 years old.
First they had the chance to talk with players of Laima Riga – most of them are national team players – before trying hockey themselves with borrowed equipment.
The other event in Great Britain was held in the country’s capital at the Alexandra Palace ice rink in London.
Supported by the English Ice Hockey Association, the event was hosted by the Haringey junior club, with support from Guildford Lightning women’s team and members of the Great Britain women’s team. They all welcomed around 15 girls ranging from youngsters of 5 or 6 years old up to teenagers.
The girls first tried some passing and stick-handling off the ice before being given their kit. For many it was the first time they had seen hockey equipment, but they had experienced helpers.
“The on-ice session lasted for 90 minutes,” said Guildford Lightning player Anna-Marie Baisden.
“After starting out with some basic skating drills, the girls moved on to some fun games such as Bulldog and giving each other ‘sleigh rides’ around the ice. Pucks were then introduced as the girls were taught to pass and tackle some simple obstacle courses. They finished with some cross-ice games to put their new-found skills into action.”
Many parents asked about local clubs where their girls can play and with many representatives in attendance they were pointed in the right direction.
140 girls and women between the age of 7 and 45 came to the rink in Geneva to learn to play ice hockey. They were split into six different groups depending on their age and on-ice experience.
With the campaign the Association Genève Futur Hockey hopes to recruit more girls for trainings and to form a women’s team for the Swiss league next season.
The girls were helped by coaches, boys from the junior teams of the organization, but also by six professional players from Genève-Servette, the current surprise leader of the Swiss National League A.
Read in our featured story from Geneva what the organizers and some of the pros including NHLer Logan Couture say about the event.
In Linköping, Sweden, the Girls Hockey Day had turned into a night before it was over, but it was a bunch of tired and happy girls that left the Stångebrohallen rink at eight in the evening.
“We had 21 girls born between 1999 and to 2005, and they came from four different cities and hockey clubs,” says Peter Eriksson at Linköping HC, the host club.
Their day started in the afternoon with a Swedish women’s league game between Linköping and Stockholm AIK. During the second intermission, 13 of the Girls Hockey Day participants played a short exhibition game, and then greeted the Linköping players as they took the ice for the third period.
After the game, it was time for the participants to hit the ice.
“We split the ice into three sections – one where the younger girls played a 4-on-4 game against each other, another where some new girls got to practice their skating, and a third where the older girls played a 3-on-3 game,” says Eriksson.
“We also had the women’s elite team goalie Kim Martin and defenseman Emma Holmbom come and visit our event. They talked about their careers, and then helped coach the youngest girls,” he adds.
After a short break - for lemonade and cookies - there was some more hockey and a penalty shootout.
“We saw lots of smiling girls, and the parents were happy too. It was also important for the girls that play hockey with boys to see that there are other girls who play hockey. The event helped to improve the contacts between them,” Eriksson says.
Norwegians are famous for being an active, outdoor people, and on a school break and sunshine outside, it’s not easy to get them inside a hockey rink.
“We’re a little blue about the event because we hoped for at least 30 participants,” says Kjetil Laasby at Bergen Ishockeyklubb.
No need to be blue, though, because the ones that did show up - 13 girls, 12 instructors - were more than happy.
“The program on the ice was filled with typical hockey school drills, some time for a game – and fun. Some instructors took care of the beginners in their own area. After the event, there was a little “thank you” speech and the participants got their diplomas and giveaways,” says Laasby.
“Ice hockey is not a big sport in Bergen and it’s hard to recruit kids to the sport, boys included. We had to market the event professionally, with flyers and giveaways,” Laasby says.
In Trondheim, Norway, the Leangen rink was filled with girl players all weekend as Rosenborg Ishockeyklubb hosted their event both on Saturday and Sunday. All in all, 50 girls showed up for hockey during the weekend, 30 on Saturday and 20 on Sunday, says Øyvind Bertelsen-Tangvik at Rosenborg Ishockeyklubb.
“We got good help from the senior girls who play in the top division teams,” he says.
As in many other cities around the world, in Trondheim one of the main purposes of the event was to get girls to try hockey for themselves so that they’d see that it’s not as dangerous as some of the headlines and news stories might suggest.
“There were many positive reactions from both girls and parents. They’ll come back to our club practices next week, and hopefully they will then keep on playing,” says Bertelsen-Tangvik.
There are to cities with ice rinks in Iceland. And the other than the capital of Reykjavik is what Icelanders often call the “northern capital” of their island: Akureyri.
15 girls were registered and a few more girls showed up at the ice rink of the city of less than 18,000 inhabitants.
Hosted by the local ice sports club Skautafelag Akureyrar, girls between the age of 6 and 12 were welcomed warmly by members of the local club, some in national team jerseys. The on-ice activities were led by Canada-born women’s national team coach Sarah Smiley assisted by her players. The participants were split up into groups that rotated on various stations on the ice.
“All the girls were very happy to get this opportunity to try ice hockey and skate with other girls,” said Margret Olafsdottir of Ice Hockey Iceland. “Some of them had wanted to come and try for some time but didn’t have the braveness before. Parents also enjoyed their girls’ little adventure on the ice and said this was an eye opener to the sport. They hadn´t realized that ice hockey could be so much fun for girls too.”
Iceland had record numbers both in Akureyri and Reykjavik and the events were covered by media.
“Seeing the event grow from year to year confirms its importance for the development of women´s ice hockey in Iceland,” said Olafsdottir.
What a weekend. 2 events, 20 kit bags, 2 bursting stick bags, 30 volunteers and 4 hours ice time and what have you got? You’ve got the IIHF World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend.
In a country where women’s hockey is not a mainstream sport we have had an amazing 81 girls and women on the ice this weekend, and what’s better is that we’ve have 81 smiles on the ice too, and maybe a fair few bruises.
It all started on Saturday in Haringay where there is currently no women’s hockey, and we had 20 girls raring to go. With their specially made pink sticks donated by the English Ice Hockey Association the girls went out there to learn the basic skills and skate alongside players from the Great Britain Women’s Team and local coaches and players.
On Sunday the English Ice Hockey Association World Girls Hockey Day Roadshow moved up to Nottingham, one of the biggest hockey towns in Britain. Sunday saw and incredible turnout with 61 keen and enthusiastic girls and women ready to take to the ice. Eyes lit up when the stick bag was opened and the pink sticks were handed out.... where else but at the World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend would you see 100 pink sticks?
Joined by GB players and coaches past and present, and coaching staff and players from the Nottingham Junior and Lady Vipers, with 61 new players on the ice you can imagine the scene. It was absolutely fabulous to see the potential talent out there and all the girls have left their contact details for further follow up. Nottingham Lady Vipers, we don’t think you’ll have a problem with player recruitment for a while.
Ryan Rathbone, the English Ice Hockey Association World Girls Hockey Day Roadshow Organiser said: “It was amazing to see so many girls on the ice, trying something new and wanting to come back for more and we look forward to following up with everyone and helping them get into the sport.”
Geoff Hemmerman, English Ice Hockey Association Board member and head of the EIHA Women’s section commented at the end of the day: “It was great to see so many young girls taking to the ice and entering into the spirit of the day and trying all the different skills and techniques in the strange world of helmets and gloves.”
Click here for a video from Nottingham.
Kosice has a newly founded women’s hockey team called Ice Dream. And their first event was a girls’ day at the Cana ice rink with some 20 girls between the age of 5 and 40.
The girls practised in some competitions before eventually playing a game.
“We received positive comments and that there should be events like this more often,” said Katarina Hostovicakova. “It helps to make the girls know each other better.”
Organized by HC Cherokees Brno, 15 girls came to the ice rink in Czech town Blansko on Sunday to try out ice hockey. The event included the participants at the age of 5 to 25 and players from the local clubs who assisted with the practice.
After watching a championship game against Slezan Opava, the ice was divided into three parts where the girls tested their hockey skills in slalom skating, shooting and puck handling.
After the event hot dogs, drinks and small gifts were waiting for the girls.
All girls were smiling and enjoying the hockey day and their mothers joined their daughters and skated with them.
“I was very happy to hear all these positive reactions and to see the smile on the girls’ faces. I think it was successful hockey day,” says Jana Pracharova, the Cherokees team captain who organized the event. “We showed to the public that hockey is also for girls and it is fun and a great sport.”
The Irish Ice Hockey Association participated in the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend, with the Irish Woman’s National Team holding an off-ice fitness training session at the Strong Room Fitness and Wellness Centre in Dundalk, Ireland.
This is just one session the Irish team have organised in recent weeks in preparation for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group B Qualification which will be held in Izmir, Turkey, 1-8 December 2013.
On Sunday the team had to endure a challenging training session with a top fitness instructor, with preparation well underway for the upcoming championship.
The team arrived early on Sunday morning and were briefed by their head coach Vytas Lukosevicius, who introduced the team staff. With a number of training sessions and trials previously held, Lukosevicius congratulated the girls on their selection to represent their country, but stated that the real work starts today.
The team then hit the gym floor and were put through their paces by a top professional instructor. It was tough session, with various exercises being undertaken. During the final minutes, after sweating it out, the team had to work together in order to lift a weighted rope. With coordination and team work, the girls succeeded!
Ladies hockey in Ireland has developed greatly in recent years. A number of woman’s hockey events have been organised in Ireland and the passion and enthusiasm seems to grow among the players, newcomers and IIHA staff collectively. With more females interested in the sport than ever before, on-ice resources are greatly needed.
Speaking after the event, head coach of the Irish Woman’s National Team, Vytas Lukosevicius said: “It has been a great day, the fitness of the team is getting better. They are given a tough work out by a professional instructor in preparation for the Championships. We look forward to upcoming on ice trainings as we prepare for the Championships in December.”
President of the Irish Ice Hockey Association, William Fay said "It was great to see the turn out from the Ireland Woman’s Ice Hockey National Team who are so passionate about the game. A big thank you goes out to Tanya Foley and the IIHF for organising the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend, a special event in recognition and promotion for Women's ice hockey and I can't wait for next year."
Legendary German sports club Hamburger SV organized a girls’ hockey event at the Stellingen ice rink in Hamburg with about 20 girls between the age of 4 and 14.
The groups had two-and-a-half hours of ice time and started in the locker room and with the hockey equipment.
“A few of the girls already had experiences in hockey and others came with their friends to try the sport,” said the coach, Anja Ramajzl.
Four stations were set up on the ice, one for the four- and five-year-olds, and three for the others.
“We did some skating around pylons, jumping, dribbling and skating with the puck and also some shooting,” Ramajzl said. “After one hour of practice we gave the girls a little break to drink some juice and have some fruits. After the break the girls were offered to play and the younger girls tried some drills with the puck.”
“They really loved it to be together with other girls and no boys,” she said. “Some parents told me that their child was more confident on the ice, probably because the girls were among girls. Also some families stopped by that were just on a Sunday walk and had to wait for their children who wanted to go on the ice and try some hockey.”
For the group it was important to show to the girls that there are other girls who play hockey too and that it’s not just a men’s sport.
“It showed our organization that girls’ hockey has a big future if we continue doing the girls’ day and maybe try to offer some other practices only for girls,” Ramajzl said. “I think especially in Germany, where playing hockey is not as common as in Canada, every step like organize a Girls’ Hockey Day is a step into the right direction.”
In Motala, Sweden, the local Motala AIF Hockey Club had planned a full day of hockey theory and ice sessions for the 40 girls who came to their Girls Hockey Day even at the Exeo Arena.
The activities began at nine in the morning, with registrations, and going through the equipment. Girls who didn’t have full gear could borrow the missing parts from the club’s storage. And then it was time to hit the ice.
“The girls were instructed in skating and stick handling. They also played a few games that were highly appreciated by the girls. After the ice session, the girls were informed how to maintain and take care of the equipment,” says Sam Nilsson at Motala AIF Hockey Club.
The event ended with a light meal and chats with the instructors.
“The girls and their parents highly appreciated the initiative to have a day only for girls. They were more relaxed than they’d been boys would have participated. Many of the girls were interested in playing in a youth team. We’ll follow up to see if there is an interest to start a youth team for girls,” Nilsson says.
“Many parents and girls were wary of the game before the event, and we wanted to market the fun of hockey, and show them that it is a safe sport, and a good sport for girls,” he adds.
33 young ladies came to the Winter Sports Palace in Sofia. After a theoretical lesson and off-ice practice they had the chance to get to know the game and later to watch a practice of the women’s national team.
“Everyone was glad, enthusiastic and excited,” said Tzvetana Krasteva, who led the practice on the ice, and Tatyana Damianova, who was responsible for the off-ice training.
“We were happy that the parents realized that hockey with a female touch is fundamentally different than men’s hockey and that we could give them a clear idea about women’s ice hockey.”
The city of Jönköping and its surroundings are heartland of Swedish hockey. The local club HV71 is a force in the country, so it’s no surprise that when HV71 hosted a Girls’ Hockey Day at Kinnarps Arena, 35 girls, born between 1997 and 2004, showed up.
“We started our day on the ice at nine in the morning, then we had lunch before hitting the ice again. After that, the Swedish national team’s manager Anders Ottosson gave a presentation on girls’ and women’s hockey, and the different possibilities,” says Jeanette Landgren at Smålands Ishockeyförbund.
The day ended with the participants watching a women’s league game between HV71 and AIK Stockholm.
“The participants welcomed the chance to meet other girls and the parents think it’s good as well. It’s really fun to see all these young girls who really love playing hockey, and the really young ones with a big smile on their faces, and the sweaters hanging down to their knees,” says Landgren.
40 girls from the age of 7 to 29 came to the rink in Riga for the girls’ day organized by two club teams, Icegirls and Ladies. The slogan read translated: “Also you can do it!”
First the girls watched a women’s club team play a game in the U16 boys’ league. Then the ice was free for the newcomers. They were taught how to skate, to handle the puck and score goals while the more experiences participants were there to improve their skills.
“The atmosphere was very good. People were having fun and were happy to try something new,” said Inguna Lukasevica. “Girls were very active and we found new players, who are willing to continue.”
Nothing beats lemonade and home-baked cookies, except lemonade and home-baked cookies after a good hockey practice. The 36 girls that came to the Girls Hockey Day event in Odense, Denmark, were in luck, as that’s exactly what they got after their workout at the Odense arena.
“The coach divided the girls into three groups. The youngsters took the middle of the ice and skated around with parents and helping devices. A group of new skaters went to one end of the ice and got a few simple skating instructions and the last group, girls who had skated before, went to the other end did some skating and stick handling drills,” says Chalotte Poulsen at Odense Ishockey Klub.
“Some of the parents said that it was important that the practice was for girls only because the girls might have been shyer with boys on the ice as well,” she adds.
Currently Odense’s women’s team has 20 players, aged 13-38, but Poulsen hopes that a new generation will rise, and fill up the gaps, and then take women’s hockey further.
“I think it’s important that we got some young girls because they’ll be better players when they start at 5-6. Hopefully, we have started the base for the future female team,” she says.
Some of the girls are already looking forward to training with the female team on Tuesday. That may be too soon for the one mother (37) who brought her 8- and 12-year-old girls to the event on Sunday, and joined them on the ice.
“Our coach thought it would be fun if they all started to play. We could have a family line on the team,” says Poulsen.
People arriving at the Kuopio rink on Sunday morning may have done a double take when they saw who was on the ice. It wasn't the 25 girls going through skating drills and stickhandling clinics, and playing a scrimmage in three zones of the rink who made them drop their jaws - even though they were very good. Still, girls playing hockey is hockey as usual.
But who knew Finkey, the 2003 IIHF World Championship mascot, was going to be in Kuopio during the Girls’ Hockey Day? Well, he was.
And among the two dozen girls on the ice were also six girls who hadn’t played hockey before, but who got their first taste of the sport.
“The girls also got to see the KalPa SM-liiga team’s locker room, and meet some of the players,” says Tommi Rouvali project manager at KalPa’s junior organization.
“This is the biggest and the most important day for our girls. It’s events like this that give the girls a lot of energy and strength to practise and play games in the future,” says Sari Suoniemi, who coordinated the Girls’ Hockey Day in Pirkkala, Finland.
It was a joint event between Pirkkalan Pingviinit (Penguins) and Ilves Tampere, a club with ten Finnish championships on the women’s side.
But on Sunday, about two dozen girls, aged 2-16, gathered at the Pirkkala rink for the Girls’ Hockey Day, which was also the fourth and final last day of the hockey school aimed at 7-12-year-old girls in the Tampere region.
They began the day with some off-ice training, and warming up, before hitting the ice. After an hour’s practice and a half hour’s scrimmage, the girls got to meet Meeri Räisänen and Sanna Valkama, both Team Finland players, and Anne Haanpää, who won four European titles, three World Championship bronze medals and eight Finnish championships during her career.
“It was nice to see girls of different ages work together. I think everybody involved with the GHD enjoyed the warm feeling of the event. Also, we saw lots of skills, actions, and sweat on the ice,” says Suoniemi.
Almost 30 kids came for the first event at the Peru Beach Hockey Rink in San Isidro, a Buenos Aires suburb, and the organizers expect a similar number of participants at a second rink in the community on Sunday.
With warm spring weather and no ice rink available – the only full size rink is an outdoor one open from June to August – the girls’ weekend was made an inline hockey event in Argentina.
“For now our first step is to teach them inline hockey and then to bring them to ice hockey. That’s our policy,” said Dicky Haiek, the Vice President of the Argentine Ice and Inline Hockey Association (AAHHL). At least until the dreams of an international size indoor ice rink becomes true.
Most girls were between the age of eight and ten and played for the first time with pucks and sticks. For their first hockey lesson they were helped by members of the women’s national team.
“The atmosphere was great. We had a lot of balloons and some girls had wigs to make the event even more fun,” Haiek said.
Click here for a featured story from Argentina.
The Vojtech Zavodsky ice rink in Zilina was probably one of the busiest ones during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend with no less than 416 participants in attendance.
40 volunteers helped organize the event with 120 girls who followed the invitation to the rink to learn to play hockey, 40 ball hockey players from the local club HOGO, 10 figure skaters and 15 male players from MsHK Zilina who presented the activities and about 200 parents and spectators. The event was held in co-operation with the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation.
The organizers from several clubs organized a unique event aimed for girls under the age of 12. First hockey players and figure skaters presented the ice sports in Zilina with the support of singer Tomas Bezdeda, who later signed autographs with Zilina player Tomas Harant.
Then twelve competitions were set up on the ice for the kids. They collected pucks from the little house into a large plastic wheel and slid it across the ice. They pushed special penguins on the ice, shot on the goal with a goalie or with two targets. They went through tracks with various obstacles, played ringette, skated between obstacles and learned basic elements of skating and puck moving.
“It was an amazing experience to watch the enthusiasm and joy of the children on the ice,” said Maria Zemiakova , an IIHF referee and women’s hockey coach. “A lot of the children have had skates on their feet for the first time and they didn’t want to go home. The number of children who came was a pleasant surprise for us, but we as organizers weren´t shocked. And that is important. Each volunteer who helped us was pleased by the satisfaction of the children and their parents.”
Click here for a video from Zilina.
Turkey organized a day for girls’ hockey for the first time and 100 girls between 5 and 14 years of age came to the Bahçelievler Ice Rink in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
After the registration and a concert of the Sütlü Kakao band the girls had some outdoor competitions like a sack race and a hockey skills competition on a parking lot.
Then it was time for the girls to take the ice where players from the local clubs helped the rookies.
“The female players in Turkey were aware of the importance of the event,” said Ferhat Tözünler, the Turkish Ice Hockey Federation’s Director of Development. “Women’s hockey is a growing sport in Turkey, so all participants gave their support, come together, talked about the future of the girls’ hockey in Turkey, shared ideas and had fun all together.”
At the end an exhibition game between players from Turkish women’s teams was played.
“The participants were excited with the event,” Tözünler said. “Parents and kids had fun all day long. We received positive comments and would like to take part in the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend again next year.”
Tözünler also said that the board of the Turkish Ice Hockey Federation will increase the support for girls’ hockey.
The oldest women’s hockey player of the country, Nazli Karabük, was amazed about the event one day after her birthday.
“Women’s hockey has a 20-year long history in Turkey,” she said, ”and this was the greatest event we have had for women’s hockey in Turkey.”
Located on the south west tip of Australia, Perth is one of the most isolated cities in the world, and one of the more unique locales for ice hockey. But that sure didn’t damper the enthusiasm of the 30 girls participating in the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
The chilly Cockburn Ice Arena was the perfect antidote for the sweltering spring weather outside, and the girls, aged from four years to adult, thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the day’s activities. This included skating drills, small area games, passing, relay races, tyre races and lots more.
“The session looked like so much fun that we had some mums jump on the ice to join in with the games!” said event organiser Jo Frankenberger.
Many participants needed to borrow equipment from the rink. Cockburn Ice Arena staff helped the girls get fitted for skates, helmets and the correct type and length of stick.
“We had amazing coaches and helpers – some are players, some are officials and some were our male counterparts passionate about the development of girls’ hockey,” said Frankenberger.
Despite the lack of a women’s league in Perth, the success of the day is hoped to lead to more involvement.
“We hope girls will sign up so we can form a girls’ ice hockey team in Perth and eventually create a women’s league in Western Australia,” said Frankenberger.
But the true spirit of the day can be summed up by six-year-old Ayden: “It was awesome! Can we do this every week?”
Click here for a featured story from Perth.
Twenty girls teamed up with members of the Korean women’s national team at the Taereung Ice Rink at the National Athletic Training Centre in Seoul, the country’s specialist facility for developing high performance athletes across a range of sports.
A number of clubs in the local area were represented, and the event also saw a girl from Busan – located 400km away – come just for the camp.
The day began with stretching led by national team players, and then learnt techniques for better skating from national team coach Jonghwan Lee.
The girls were then each paired with a national team member who passed on their know-how and skills to the youth players.
Lastly, the girls were split into two teams to play a scrimmage.
13-year-old Min-A Park said she embraced the female-only atmosphere of the event, and that she relish the opportunity to learn from the senior players.
“I feel comfortable because there are only female players are here,” she said. “I learned a lot from the national team players and I will now spend more time to be a better play like a national team player.
“I really had fun at this event and want to join again next time.”
Organiser Kwangeun Choi hoped the event would build a solid foundation for junior players coming through the system.
“The event will help young players to better understand hockey and have more interest in the sport – to encourage them to keep playing,” he said.
“This event provided youth players with a high-class coaching session by national team coaches.
“Parents are also happy with it to see their child smiling and playing hockey with national team players”
One of the girl’s parents, Kyungsoon Lee, was particularly impressed by the impact on her daughter’s growth.
“This was a very rare chance to be coached by national team,” Lee said. “So my daughter really wanted to join. I no doubt think it was fun for her and hope she improves and someday becomes a national team player.”
Click here for a featured story from Seoul.
On Saturday, SDE Hockey club kicked off a new season for the girls hockey school, with a half a dozen excited girls who focused mostly on skating drills, and learning the basic skills – including getting up from the ice.
SDE Hockey operates north of Stockholm, with the main hub in Vallentuna, 35 kilometres north of the Royal Castle, but also running hockey schools in other rinks in the region to make it easier for the girls to find one that’s closer to home.
The girls’ team, girls aged nine to eleven, played a scrimmage at the other end of the rink.
After a good 50-minute practice, the girls gathered in a group photo. In the photo, the small hockey schoolers form a nice – pink – core, with the bigger girls all around them.
“The hockey school is our best marketing tool. Of the girls on our team, all but three have gone through the hockey school in the club,” says Maria Stolpe at SDE Hockey.
On Sunday, the girls’ team will play a game against the boys’ team, and they intend to win, of course.
“We hope to instill a healthy dose of humility in their team,” says Stolpe, smiling.
Click here for a featured story from Vallentuna.
“Our association wanted to focus on uniting local girls – whether they played all girls hockey or co-ed, or just wanted to try the game,” said Jim Yue, Communications/Events Director of Vancouver Girls Ice Hockey. “We also wanted to showcase the opportunities within hockey by using female referees, coaches and, of course, players. We accomplished this by hosting a drop-in pick-up game for Atom and Peewee from all teams across Vancouver – giving girls from co-ed teams or private clubs a chance to play together in a fun event, even though they will never meet in competition.”
75 girls between the age of 4 and 17 came to the Killarney Ice Rink at the event hosted by the Vancouver Angels.
The event continued with an exhibition Bantam game to highlight the quality play within all-girls hockey leagues and ended with a try hockey event for 4 to 8-year-olds.
Each new child was assigned one or two Pee Wee, Bantam or Midget Angels to help them get skates, helmets, gloves, sticks and an official Angel jersey and then be their on-ice shadow – cheering them on (or setting them back on their skates) whenever there was a chance.
“The parents of the young ‘try hockey’ girls were very enthusiastic about the event, saying their daughters had loved it, had a great time, and enjoyed meeting the big girls (the Angel on-ice helpers),” Yue said.
And he even made sure there was not local, but also international coverage.
“The local reporter for the Chinese news agency Xinhua covered the entire exhibition game and interviewed many of the participants,” Yue said. “It raises our hopes that the fun and skill of the Canadian girls’ game will filter to China.”
There wasn’t much the 6-12-year-old girls that came to the Skedsmo rink - 25 kilometres northeast of Oslo, Norway - didn’t do during their hockey day. They played hockey, tried ringette rings, skated around pylons, played tag, played hockey, and played some more hockey, this time with two pucks.
“We had fourteen girls, born between 2000 and 2006, different skill levels, but everybody having a lot of fun,” says Per-Henrik Nygård at the Skedsmo Ishockeyklubb, the organizing club.
After the drills, and the tag, and untying of the skates, the girls and parents received information on girls’ hockey, IIHF’s initiatives, about the Norwegian federation and the local Skedsmo club.
And then they all received their diplomas and bracelets as souvenirs.
While many of the girls will surely be back to play, the Skedsmo club also lucked out in getting a female former player to sign up as coach.
“I think and hope that the event will increase numbers of girls’ hockey players in our club. We also hope that with more girls, it’ll be easier for us to build a second rink in Skedsmo,” says Nygård.
The Lake Melville Xtreme Minor Hockey Association organized a girls’ event in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Labrador. It was probably the most north-eastern outpost of the Canadian World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events.
Due to problems with the ice rink that won’t be operational until next week, the organizers had to improvise and held the event in the parking lot.
“Living in the North, you have to learn to adapt to not having everything you need all the time, so we made the best of it and had a great event,” said Colleen Baikie. “There were about 35 people registered and two of our coaches helped out with the officiating.”
“This event had girls from Novice right up to Midget age as well as our Hockey Moms who just formed their own Hockey Teams last spring. Although we weren’t on an ice surface, the sportsmanship and camaraderie were terrific and we hope to get some new players when we start up next week.”
3-on-3 shinny hockey was played at two rinks and teams were changed every five minutes to keep everyone moving.
“This was our first cold day this fall so we took a break after an hour to check out our equipment swap and sale, have some great hot chocolate and Tim Horton’s kindly donated timbits and warm up a bit,” Baikie said. “We had lots of donated prizes to draw for. We also took a great group photo of everyone who participated.”
The town of less than 8,000 inhabitants was well prepared and the girls and their moms pumped after week-long coverage from the local CBC radio morning broadcast.
Although Malaysia is relatively new to the sport, more than 30 girls aged seven to 18 took to the ice for their very first ice hockey training at the Sunway Pyramid ice rink in Petaling Jaya, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur.
After collecting equipment, the girls received a short briefing and with the help of some keen volunteers, began simple skating drills. Later in the session, sticks and pucks were added to practice passing skills.
The two-hour session was thoroughly enjoyed by all the girls, many of whom had not even skated before. Many parents were so impressed, they signed on to return for more learn-to-play classes.
“I hope this event would encourage more girls to take up hockey,” said event organizer Ee Laine Chee. “There are already parents who are interested to return, and it is not just their daughters who want to join.
“It is my hope that it would also attract more kids to take up hockey.”
A second event will be held in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, this time at an inline hockey rink.
Click here for a video from Malaysia.
The Girls Hockey Academy in co-operation with the Slovak National Women’s League Committee hosted a girls’ day in the district of Ruzinov in Bratislava.
20 girls between the age of 3 and 15 came to the Vladimir Dzurilla ice rink. Gooooly, the mascot of the 2011 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia, showed up as a special guest and all girls wanted to have a photo with the wolf.
Once the lesson was over, all girls received their Girls’ Hockey Day diploma and some small gifts.
“The participants and their parents were all very happy and satisfied,” said Lubomira Kozanova, who chairs the league committee.
“This event is the right way show how that women’s ice hockey is safe and that ice hockey is a sport also for girls. The greatest reward for the organizers was happiness and smiles in the faces of the children.”
It’s the school holiday week in Stavanger, but still about 25 girls came to the Siddishallen to take part in Stavanger Hockey’s Girls’ Hockey Day event. The youngest participant was just three years old.
After a good hour and a half of different exercises, led by three coaches, the girls ended their hockey day in a disco.
“They had a great time, and afterwards one lady even called us to thank us because her granddaughter had had such a good time at the hockey day. That’s what we always aim for: give the girls positive experiences of hockey,” says Kari Johnson at Stavanger Hockey.
After the ice, the girls were served cookies and fruit, while parents got information on how to register their girls in the hockey school or, alternatively, a team.
“Stavanger has a great hockey community for girls. Maybe we should arrange an event like this twice a year?” says Johnson.
The firs girls showed up at the Nordkraft Arena in Narvik, Norway at 10 in the morning, two hours before the hockey day registration began. By then, they had already waited three hours to get to play hockey. They weren’t the only ones excited to play, and so, a half hour before schedule, all 80 girls - between the ages of four and 16 - were on the ice, doing different activities in each of the four areas that had been dedicated to them according to their age and skills.
The 17 Narvik Hockey Arctic Eagles players and the 63 other girls from the region played, did skating drills, shot pucks, and learned to pass the puck and dribble. After the first hour, the local club’s players played a 20-minute exhibition game.
“The participants seemed to enjoy the day very much. Many parents thought it was a good experience for the girls and wanted more info about our club and hockey. We feel that this has been a success for our club and getting so many girls to come a Saturday in fall break was great,” says Anne-Wenche Grønvold Dragly at Narvik Hockey Arctic Eagles.
Even NRK, The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, sent a camera crew to document the Girls’ Hockey Day event in Narvik. The show was broadcast on Monday.
“We have only two arenas in this part of the country, and both clubs are hosting an International girls hockey day this weekend,” said Grønvold Dragly.
Click here for a video from Narvik. (Starts at 14:00)
The Connecticut Northern Lights organized an event in Simsbury with 27 girls in the age group 4-9.
The event started with a Learn to Skate program with coaches and older girls from the organization.
They learned how to fall down, how to get up properly, how to glide; they did ice angels and walked over hockey sticks that were placed in rows on the ice. It was a start of the five-week program that will continue on the next four Saturdays.
“The girls seemed to be having a lot of fun,” said Amy Samplatsky, the Connecticut Northern Lights’ Communications Director. “Parents were lined up against the boards chatting and taking pictures. They want their girls to learn how to skate and hope they learn to eventually love the game.”
While four women’s national teams battle to advance in the Olympic Qualification for Sochi 2014, the dream of a hockey career may just have started for 60 girls who joined the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend at the Pista de Gel behind the legendary Camp Nou football stadium in Barcelona.
“We had about 60 new girls who tried to play ice hockey,” said Frank Gonzalez, member of the IIHF Council and Vice President of the Spanish Ice Sports Federation. “They came all from inline. We had participants from little girls to married mothers who tried to play.”
The event took place after the first day of the Olympic Preliminary Qualification. The girls were happy to see that their idols did well as Spain defeated Croatia 2-1.
Click here for a featured story from Barcelona.
Iceland has three ice rinks, and each of it has its girls’ hockey day with the slogan “The Women of Winter”. The one at the Egilshöll rink just outside of the capital of Reykjavik and the home club Björninn took place one week earlier than the other two in Reykjavik and Akureyri.
The event was held earlier to have it as a part of a tournament and with the presence of former Canadian goalie Sami Jo Small who won gold medals at several Olympic tournaments and Women’s World Championships, and her husband Billy Bridges, who won Paralympic gold in sledge ice hockey in Turin 2006. That’s why it was called “Canadian Girls’ Hockey Day”.
The girls between the age of 4 and 17 were assisted with the equipment before having an hours’ lesson on the ice. Once they had to clear the ice for the continuation of the tournament, they all took photos with Small and her gold medal from the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
“Everybody was very happy and excited,” said Margret Olafsdottir from Ice Hockey Iceland before the two other events. “We have high hopes for the upcoming weekend. We believe this is one step forward to strengthening women´s ice hockey within the clubs and in the country.”
Kazakhstan’s top women’s hockey club team Aisulu Almaty organized events in three cities.
The main event took place at the club’s home base, the Bolyan Sholak Sports Palace. Other events for girls between the age of seven and ten were held in Ust-Kamenogorsk and Rydnyi with the club’s support. In total 200 girls came to the three events.
The events began with a theoretical lesson about women’s hockey in Kazakhstan and the world for the kids and their parents. They also had the chance to see first a practice of the U18 team before hitting the ice. For some girls it was the first time they skated on the ice.
Helpers in the form of penguins were there to help the girls – and to take a picture with.
“The atmosphere was very funny and friendly,” said Yekaterina Skobelkina. “The girls didn’t want to leave the ice. Some even had tears when they had to leave in the end.”
The girls were taught by instructors, but also by three national team players: Zarina Tukhtieva, Natalya Yakovchuk and Galia Nurgalieva.
“They were great role models for the girls and for the parents,” Skobelkina said. “They were talking with the parents about their hockey career and opportunities for the children.”
38 girls came to Oslo’s legendary Jordal Amfi ice rink. The participants were split into two groups: 20 girls of age 7-12, and 18 ladies between the age of 12 and 23.
There were three ice sessions with a women’s hockey legends from Sweden, Maria Rooth, Norway’s women’s national team coach Sten Gunnar Jørgensen and several of his players.
After the practices on and off the ice and meals, the girls got bracelet of the “Jente Hockey Dagen”.
More than 125 ladies from age 9 to 52 joined the event of the Smoke Eaters Geleen in the Netherlands. The participants were split into eight teams with names like Mighty Chicks and Puck Divas, and 18 coaches were present to teach them how to play.
The event was a good opportunity to recruit more female hockey players, said Arnoud van Berkel, Executive Director of the Ice Hockey Association of The Netherlands.
“We reached a first goal. Until now female players were playing in men’s leagues and a championship for female players was organized in tournaments. Now we have a separate women’s league with four teams,” he said.
There were many interesting moments on and off the ice. Also like a nine-year-old goalie was teaching the butterfly style to a 21-year-old who wants to become a netminder.
With more female participation he hopes to expand the league and also to improve the level of play for the national team.
Under the slogan "Toutes Hockey" (a little word play, reads translated "everything hockey" and "everything okay"), nine French clubs organized their girls’ weekends earlier also to coincide with a national sports day where kids can try out many sports.
The events took place in Asnières, Chambéry, Colmar, Epinal, Rouen, Limoges, Mulhouse, Chamonix and Nantes.
150 young ladies joined the events throughout the country for their first steps in ice hockey and with borrowed equipments and some souvenirs from the clubs.
The clubs from Colmar and Asnières won the prizes for the top-two organizers with 40 and 25 participants respectively. Girls in Colmar also enjoyed an ice rink cake.