NEWARK, USA – The New Jersey Devils have a history of promoting women in hockey, and their World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event on October 8 added to that legacy.
The Devils were the first NHL club to employ a female broadcaster. Respected hockey journalist Sherry Ross first served as the Devils radio colour commentator from 1992 to 1995, and resumed that role in 2007 alongside play-by-analyst Matt Loughlin.
Today, they’re going even further to develop women’s hockey. This was their second consecutive year of participation in World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend, and the event at the Barnabas Health Hockey House, the Devils’ practice facility at the Prudential Center, was a success.
“It went wonderfully,” said Andy Gojdycz, the club’s director of grassroots and amateur hockey operations. “We had 110 registered girls, ages 6 to 16. We worked out on the ice. We had station-based ADM (American Development Model) practice. It included small-area games: 3-on-3, 4-on-4, and so on. There was a relay race competition on the other side. There were another four stations for ringuette, junkyard stickhandling, soccer play, and passing.”
Before hitting the ice, the girls also enjoyed off-ice activities including resistance training, a stickhandling and shooting clinic, and an age-specific lecture on nutrition and training for hockey. The day kicked off at 9 am and wrapped up by 1:30 pm.
The Devils, winners of three Stanley Cups (1995, 2000, 2003), have long been known as an organization that operates with precision and purpose. Alumni who attended the event to serve as coaches included Bruce Driver, a 922-game NHL defenceman, and Grant Marshall, who was famously involved in two series-clinching goals in the ‘03 Cup run. Female coaches included members of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) New York Riveters, as well as representatives of Williams College and Princeton Day School.
Naturally, there was also a fun component to the day.
“We gave them all Devils goodie bags with World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend T-shirts sponsored by the Devils, MAWHA (Mid-Atlantic Women’s Hockey Association) handkerchiefs, and other things, including a pair of tickets to a Devils game in the New Year,” said Gojdycz. “The girls also got to see the Devils practice before their exhibition game at West Point against Florida.”
The goal now is to build on Saturday’s success and grow women’s hockey in New Jersey and the tri-state area as a whole.
“The Devils are committed to the women’s progressive movement in ice hockey,” said Gojdycz. “We feel it’s very necessary and important to support it – not just this weekend, but throughout the year. Once a month, we do an ADM clinic for a specific cause, whether it be girls, Tier-1 hockey, Tier-2 hockey, high school hockey, goalies. The cry this weekend from parents was, ‘This is awesome for the area. We just don’t do enough for girls’ hockey. Are you guys going to do more of this?’ And we said: ‘Sure, of course we will. Because we see the need.’”