Welcome to the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend tracker on 10/11 October 2015. We keep you updated here with events in over 30 countries. The result will be a collection of images and reports from a weekend full of fun for girls all over the world. The stories will be posted in chronological order as we get them with the newest ones on top. Thousands of girls will take part of this global campaign.
There will also be many more pictures in our photo gallery on Facebook where you can help women's hockey by sharing them. You can also follow our activities on Twitter and Instagram, please use the hashtag #WGIHW when posting about the event.
Greece hosted its first World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend ever and 60 girls from 4 to 36 years of age came to the two sessions held on Saturday and Sunday.
“We believe it will have a great impact as many new players already showed interest in playing Ice Hockey,” said Georgia Proimou, the General Secretary of the Hellenic Ice Sports Federation. “In our country ice hockey is not a popular sport, so activities that invite people to learn and love the sport are crucial. We are very happy with the participation and the outcome of the event, and we are looking forward to seeing all these girls in action”
Proimou hopes that the event will help recruit more girls. Increasing the number of hockey players and getting an international-size ice rink are right now the top priorities in Greek ice hockey. Read our feature on the event in Athens here.
The Korea Ice Hockey Association held the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend at the Taerung ice rink, which is in the Korea Olympic Training Center in Seoul. 30 girls born 2004 or later came to the event where they were taught by players and coaches from the women’s national team.
There were different drills and games and after the 90-minute program, participants were able to remain on the ice to skate with the national team players before they got their special T-shirts signed by their favourite players.
“The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend is a great event and I am glad that here in Korea we were also able to participate. In Korea the pool for female hockey players is very small and there are no female youth programs. It was great to give the young players a great time playing games and participating in drills, and the Korean national team players had fun interacting and coaching the young players. We hope through more events like this we can continue to grow and develop the passion for female hockey,” said national team coach Sarah Murray.
As the host of the next Olympic Winter Games, the Koreans want to put more effort in development programs and use the momentum. Such events are a good start to get more players into the game.
The Nærbø Farmers organized one of the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend events in Norway with 15 participants from the age of five to nine. After a 15-minute skate the players were divided into two groups for beginners and advanced players.
Group 1 learned how to skate and how to stand up from the ice and they had different fun-games like frozen tag. Group 2 started with warm-up games (shark and minnows), than they had several competitions (obstacle course, chariot race).
“All participants had a lot of fun. The parents were happy with this event and they want that we repeat this next year. For us as a club it is a good sign to get the parents more involved to organize such events. Our goal for WGIHW 2016 is to make it bigger and double the number of participants,” said Thomas Teich, coach at the club’s hockey school.
Among the countries to host a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event for the first time this year was Morocco. Two sessions took place at the Mega Mall ice rink in the capital of Rabat. We spoke with the organizers in our featured story.
15 girls between the ages of 5 to 10 came to the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in Lulea, the city in northern Sweden that hosts the recent Champions Hockey League winner. They got a 60-minute practice from an experienced hockey coach, a player from Lulea’s ladies team and a couple of female junior players who joined in to help with different exercises.
“The reactions were positive. Hopefully all the participants will come back. We have an increasing number of girl hockey players. We will have a beginner hockey school for girls every Saturday from now on,” said Daniel Bergh, who managed the girls’ team.
It was a busy weekend for Latvian women’s hockey with the Global Girls’ Game, the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend and then another Global Girls’ Game in neighbouring Lithuania where a women’s team was formed for the first time to play against a Latvian team.
The try-hockey event was organized by the two Riga clubs Saga and Laima. The girls had off-ice outdoor training for approximately one hour helped by players before they joined with the organizers and parents for tea and cookies and got their diploma.
“We think this event promotes and builds a positive image of women’s hockey. It helps to recruit more girls already at a young age to grow the women’s hockey family,” said Inara Zvidre.
Last Saturday, HC Nokia’s women’s team had a half a dozen curious visitors to their Girls Hockey Weekend practice. There were namely two young girls and three women who also wanted to play hockey.
“On the ice, they all practiced, for example, passing the puck, penalty shots, and what it feels to really play hockey. At the end of the day all participants got the Girls’ Hockey Day bracelet,” says Jarno Parviainen, head of coaching at HC Nokia
They learned what every beginner always learns. That playing hockey is fun, but that skating’s not easy.
“One of the younger girls was surprised to have scored a hat trick. Everyone went home with a smile on her face. I hope the event inspires girls to learn how to skate. Maybe some them will want to join our girls’ hockey team,” Parviainen says.
The Karlskrona HK WGIHW event took place at the ABB Arena Karlskrona.
“It was a real success and in total around 50 girls aged between five and 12, took part of the event, about 20 of them played hockey for the first time. We had extra support on the ice from some of the ladies from KHK Women’s team, and in total we had over a dozen instructors on the ice,” says Johan Thörnqvist, Karlskrona HK girls’ team’s goalie coach and information manager.
The participants arrived at the arena an hour and a half before the practice. While the players enjoyed some beverages, they listened to a presentation about girls’ and women’s hockey in Karlskrona. Two players from the men’s SHL team, Filip Cruseman and Alexander Bergström, showed up to give the girls a pep talk.
The new girls were given equipment to try on before they all hit the ice.
“There was an article in the local newspaper to promote the activity as well as a radio interview at the local radio station,” Thörnqvist says.
He hopes the promotion and the event will increase the number of female players in the club.
“Our ambition is to grow the number of active female players in the club and in the last two years, WGIHW has been the best way to recruit new players. Hopefully the event also helps showing the community that hockey is a sport for everyone, regardless of gender,” Thörnvqist concludes.
The youth clubs in the Lahti region – Kiekkoreipas, Pelicans2000, Heinolan KIekko, and Nastolan Kiekko-Juniorit – joined forces in putting together their own Girls Hockey Weekend event. It was held at the Isku Areena in Lahti, the home arena of the Pelicans in the Finnish league.
Thirteen players aged between five and twenty showed up to try their hand at hockey.
“The first ones arrived at 11.30 for our noon practiced. We spent a good 80 minutes on the ice doing skating and stickhandling drills, and all kinds of games and competitions,” says Ville Ahvenainen, the head of coaching at Nastolan Kiekko-Juniorit, a club based just outside of Lahti.
“Afterwards, the girls got diplomas and more information on how to join the clubs,” he adds, hoping the event will attract new players into hockey.
Our event was held at Akureyri in Northern Iceland. The club hosting is Skautafélag Akureyrar. In total I think we had around 60-70 girls on the ice with us today and around 30 of them were new to hockey. Most participants we between 8-12 years old but the youngest on was 4 years old and some girls were around 20 years old.
Akureyri in northern Iceland hosted an event with about 60 to 70 girls joining the event including 30 who were new to hockey. We talked with women’s national team captain and Ice Hockey Iceland board member Linda Bra Sveinsdottir about the event in our featured story.
The Dallas Stars called and 150 girls came to the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend at three different rinks across Texas, in Farmers Branch, Richardson and McKinney, and with star guests Patrick Eaves (pictured below, took his two daughters to the ice session) and Kristy Oonincx.
We interviewed youth hockey development manager Kalie Hagood about the successful weekend. Read the story here.
USA: Gates Mills, OH
The Gilmour Academy and Geauga Youth Hockey Association hosted an event in Gates Mills, Ohio, and had about 25 participants from age 7-15.
“We had a one hour on-ice clinic, then pizza, food, and soda break, followed by an 8 Woman discussion panel which included 3 national team members from around the world, a NCAA Frozen Four Champion, and 4 former NCAA players to talk about what their hockey experiences have been and received questions from our girl attendees and their parents,” said Kelly Holtz, Geauga Youth Hockey Association Vice President.
The event concluded with the girls getting to watch the Gilmour Girls Prep High School team play against the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals.
“The girls had an absolute great time on the ice. They loved receiving hockey nail decals, hockey earrings, a USA Hockey headband, and two free tickets to the Lake Erie Monsters season home opener. The real hit was hearing from our 8 Woman panel and hearing their diverse stories of how hockey as affected their lives,” Holtz said.
It was the second such event in the community and it helps create more opportunities for female hockey players. Holtz also described a powerful moment during the panel discussions.
“We had people on our panel that coincidentally had played together in a tournament in France a few years ago and had not seen each other, and thought they would never see each other again until they happened to show up to give back to their sport. The moment of them seeing each other and figuring out how they knew each other was a really powerful moment for all,” she said.
USA: Antioch TN
32 participants come out this year in Antioch, Tennessee for the event organized by the Nashville Predators Amateur Hockey Association. That double from what they had last year from girls aged 7 years old to women in their 40s and everything in between.
After getting the girls and ladies equipped, they had an hour-long clinic where they worked on skating, stick handling, shooting, and then finished the clinic with a game. Directly after followed the usual Saturday afternoon Women’s Only Skate where those that participate and have played hockey their entire lives shared the ice with those just beginning.
“There used to be a Women’s Adult League here in Nashville. Many of the experienced women of hockey in the area in conjunction with myself and those at Ford Ice Center are trying to bring it back. The participants absolutely loved it and had such a unique experience,” said Zach Jackson, Ford Ice Center Hockey Manager for the Nashville Predators.
“It is not very often that people can try a sport like hockey for free, but we are working to be able to do this more and more. Parents, volunteers, and participants all had a blast and we hope to continue growing the game for all women and girls with more programs like this throughout the year.”
Another World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in Romania was hosted by Dunarea Galati with 11 girls from different ages who came to the rink to get introduced about the schedule and with the equipment before being shown elementary skating and stickhandling skills. After this "warm-up” the girls played 3-on-3 on a third of the rink and penalty shots.
“They enjoyed playing hockey only with other girls. It was something special for them. This was also important for the club to see that the girls would like to get their own ice time,” said Cristinel Munteanu.
“I had this idea eight years ago and maybe now with the IIHF doing a lot of work to promote girls’ hockey we can convince the people to have a girls’ team.”
Romania: Miercurea Ciuc
At the Vákár Lajos ice rink in Miercurea Ciuc, Sport Club Miercurea Ciuc hosted a hockey event with 35 girls from 5 to 25-year-olds.
The club introduced the girls with equipment before having an hour of games and activities on the ice and later activities off the ice.
“All participants were very happy, everybody liked it and was thankful they could try this sport,” said coach Sandor Ibolya. “The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend has a good influence on making this sport more popular in our town.”
Two events took place at the Pista Uno ice rink located in Bariloche in the Rio Negro province. Both were hosted by Club Pista Uno with head coach Darío Exequiel Guajardo Baruzzi and assistant coach Florencia Fioroni and 27 girls from the age of 4 to 21 took part.
They were first introduced to the basics and explained that the most important goal is to have fun. After a free skate they played games like the hockey stance, glide and snow plow before carrying the puck and shooting. They played pirates and dodgeball before competing in a shootout and a stretching session.
“The people and parents who were watching asked to sign their sons in our activities too because they felt children were getting fun in a really cool sport and they didn’t know that girls can practice too. We had some figure skating girls that want to play ice hockey too because they love hockey skates and the possibility of playing on a team,” said Guajardo Baruzzi.
It was the second World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in Bariloche and after last year the club event sent girls to the national team that played in the Panamerican Tournament in Mexico City.
The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in Hong Kong took place at MegaIce, which is a skating rink located on the 10th floor of the shopping mall MegaBox at Kowloon Bay. The event was hosted by the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association. Over 60 girls came out to join the event and try ice hockey as a new sport. Most of the girls were between the ages of 5 and 14. Our youngest participant was 3 years old.
Members from the Hong Kong women’s national ice hockey team came out to help on the ice. Those who had previous skating experience got the chance to do drills that involved stickhandling, passing and shooting while those who skated for the first time had their dedicated zone. For many, it was their first time holding a hockey stick and had to figure out which way was more comfortable to hold. But after finding the right stick, the girls had tons of fun playing with the puck.
“All the participants were very happy to try skating and ice hockey for free. As ice rink rental is quite expensive and limited, it was the first time for some girls to step on the ice,” said Tracy Wong, Sport Operations Manager at the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association. “Some of the spectators were quite surprised at how many young girls had full gear and were already playing ice hockey as we had some of our youth female players come out to help demonstrate some of the drills to the new girls. There were a couple of moms who had a lot of fun trying a new sport together with their daughters.”
Women’s hockey got exposure after Hong Kong had hosted the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division II Group B Qualification over Chinese New Year and this was a great recruitment event to find more girls. Two of the participants even came spontaneously when they were shopping at the mall and saw so many girls on the ice.
“Our three-year-old participant approached the national team players and said she will be an ice hockey player too next year,” Wong said. “The Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association hopes to build on this momentum and encourage more girls to join the sport of ice hockey.”
35 participants of all ages tried hockey at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham. They were split into five groups and took part in a variety of different activities including; tag, shooting practice, obstacle courses and a mini game.
Nottingham Vipers head coach Ryan Rathbone was happy with the outcome and to see so many happy faces.
“The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend has a positive impact on our club both growing the audience of female players and spectators. Additionally it raises awareness of the club as well as attracting new players,” Rathbone said.
Children’s TV channel CBBC was also on-site for its series “Ice Stars” to follow a young girl who wants to start playing ice hockey.
35 participants were registered for the event at the Olympic Ice Rink in Brasov from a 2.5-year-old girls to women up to 27 years old. They were presented the equipment as well as some skating and stickhandling demonstrations before they went onto the ice themselves. It started with a five-minute ice-adaption session followed by skating and balance drills, a balloon game, relays, passing and shooting and as a highlight a 3-on-3 hockey game. At the end the girls got chocolate and were invited to watch the MOL Liga game between the local team from Brasov and Dunaujvaros.
“The reactions were positive. Some of them didn’t expect that hockey can be so safe and exciting. The girls and parents want to come back for the learn to skate program and the learn to play program,” said youth and junior hockey director Ievgen Pysarenko.
(Photo by Zoltan Tamasi)
Mexico: Mexico City
On Sunday morning the girls came to the Icedome in Mexico City for cross-ice games in different age groups before forming mixed teams with all groups.
“We had players from 4 to 35 years. The moms were very exited and also the youngest players because they had the opportunity to play with national team players and those helped the youngest player to improve their game,” said operations manager Daniela Montes de Oca. “This activity was very fun and productive for Mexican hockey. We hope that next year we can have more girls.”
The Girls Hockey Weekend has established its place in the hockey calendar, and it truly is an important way to get more girls into hockey. And to get those already loving the sport to feel even better about their choice. At least if you’re to believe Kim Martin Hasson, and the former Team Sweden star and Linköping’s women’s team’s current GM knows a thing or two about women’s hockey.
“It feels like all women players in the world is coming together. It shows that girls can play hockey too, and community and clubs accept and respect us,” she says.
This year, Linköping welcomed about twenty players aged between seven and 16 into their arena in the morning. First there was a morning skate, led by players from both the club’s women’s team and a junior team before the group broke for lunch. During the lunch they watched some video clips and listened to Hanna Dahl’s presentation about the organization. She’s the assistant coach of Linköping.
After that, they all went to see Linköping’s game against Luleå, and cheered the home team to a 3-2 win.
“The girls loved it. Some girls wanted to start playing and a lot of people liked and shared what we put up on social media about the event. This is very important for the club, and we’ll organize the event in the future as well. All in all, we have more than 100 girls playing for our club,” Martin Hasson says.
Being prepared is half the battle, and that’s why the girls that showed up at the Varuboden arena in Kirkkonummi, Finland - a half hour’s drive from Helsinki - hit the gym with the mothers, before getting on the ice. A 30-minute warmup at the gym got them ready for a 45-minute skate on the ice.
“There were eight new players, all between four and six years of age,” says Katariina Nousiainen, Kirkkonummi Salamat’s GHD coordinator.
“We had guests from Espoo Ice Hockey Team (EKS) on the ice with new girls while the more advanced players scrimmaged at the other end of the rink. We also had a female referee on the ice as a guest,” she says.
Both the parens and the girls were excited about the event, and Salamat will surely see new players join the club shortly.
Indonesia held its first-ever World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend organized at the BX Rink in Tangerang Selatan west of the capital of Jakarta. At 1,320 square metres it's the biggest ice venue in the country. Organized by the national hockey body, Federasi Hoki Es Indonesia, 85 girls came to the event with four ice sessions held on three days due to the high demand.
“All participants really enjoyed these events. Most of them have never tried ice skating and never seen an ice rink before, so this is an amazing experience for them,” said general secretary Salim Wiwin.
“I enjoy this event. This is my first time I played ice hockey. I love it because I can play and skate on the ice,” said 10-year-old Louise Salomo, one of the participants.
We talked with Salim Wiwin after the event and about Indonesia’s ambitions in our featured story.
There are not many girls’ hockey events in Switzerland but the oldest one is being held every year with overwhelming numbers in Geneva. This autumn 75 participants from 5 to 58 years old came to the Vernets ice rink.
After a greeting from the Geneve Futur staff they got a guided tour at the rink of the professional men’s team and later the equipment. On the ice they were joined by Swiss women’s national team player Kaleigh Quennec as well as three pros from the men’s team – Robert Mayer, Gauthier Descloux and Eliot Antonietti.
“The reactions and comments were all positive whether the y were stepping on the ice for the first time or confirmed hockey players. This year it was our fifth WGIHW anniversary and It has now become a tradition. Making ice hockey accessible for girls and women, makes them feel special, as they do not get to only be spectators of the on ice action but are actually playing an active role,” said Ksenia Fliguil, women’s hockey and program manager.
“The ladies were glad to play hockey with their daughters (aged 6 to 11) who play already hockey on mixed teams. The girls and women were delighted to live this experience and also appreciated the behind the scenes visit of a professional team’s life. Quite a few have made enquiries if there were any girls’ teams , and when and where can they practice.”
When the club started these events four years ago, they had no girls’ hockey. Now they can offer a beginners’ program and give them weekly practices. “I think with every year’s edition, we can reach out and attract more and more participants to introduce our favourite sport to the community,” Fliguil said.
18 girls came to the rink in Hvidovre most of them in the range of 3 to 10-year-olds. They were helped by players from the women’s team including some national team members to get onto the ice for two hours. After the event they enjoyed cakes and lemonade while girls were able to register to follow up.
Ilves Tampere organized a Girls Hockey Day with 39 participants on the ice of which 20 were new.
The club from Tampere arguably had a record with a five-month old kid Sara on the ice.
"Every one had lots of fun and I hope that we will also have new members in our girls team," said Satu-Maria Kuittinen, GM of the girls' team.
USA: Bolingbrook, IL
The Sabre Girls Hockey Association hosted the High Performance College Showcase at Rocket Ice Arena in Bolingbrook, Illinois, as part of the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend with 240 teenage girls representing 12 clubs in two age categories from nine different states. They participated in four games each in front of scouts with ten colleges in attendance.
“The coaches, managers, parents and participants loved this event; they even asked if we were planning to hold another High Performance Showcase in the spring. Their favourite part of the weekend aside from playing games was the College Seminar,” said Gretchen Cockey.
40 new girls and women from the age of 2 to 40 were on the ice joined by players to help them during the one-hour ice session that followed after getting the equipment.
Following the event it was time for coffee, lemonade and pink T-shirts handed out to the participants. It was fun for everybody and many want to join for the beginners’ practices and other events.
HC Kiskoros aims at introducing ice hockey to girls in a town most famous for football. The event was a success with 45 participants between the age of four and 19 trying the coolest sport on earth.
The girls were presented the equipment by female players from the club and were split into three different groups to practice and play a game in three different areas of the field.
The girls received wristbands and a certificate and a local TV station and newspaper were on-site to report from the event.
“It was an awesome day for all. The girls asked when the next event would be held and had questions about joining local clubs. They liked competition on the ice and most of them said they’d like to try again,” said HC Kiskoros head coach Kinga Koncsag and hopes to improve women’s hockey in the city.
“We don’t have a girls’ team yet and many even didn’t know that there’s an ice rink in their town so to create awareness was a great success. I hope it helps grow this sport and get more girls to play hockey and that parents understand now that ice hockey is not a dangerous sport. But it is a fun sport.”
47 female players were on the ice in Oulu and almost all were new players. Karpat’s men’s team players Lasse Kukkonen, Iiro Tarkki and Esa Pirnes were on the ice with the girls along the women’s team players.
The Junior Giants want to build girls' hockey in Northern Ireland and saw many youngsters come to try the game during the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend.
25 girls came to the Madison Ice Arena in Wisconsin for a try hockey for free event. They thoroughly enjoyed their time on the ice and the organizers – West Madison Polar Caps and WI Ice Spirit – expect more girls registering for hockey. The girls also enjoyed hosting a special guest, Alex Rigsby, a former Wisconsin Badger and U.S. National Team player.
15 participants came to Nivala at the event organized by the Nivala Cowboys and their women’s team Nivala Cowboys NiceHockey. The girls did different plays on ice and played the game.
“All girls liked it very much and a few of the msaid they will start in our school for beginners. The parents said that it’s really good that girls can play together,” said Teppo Pirnes, responsible for girls’ hockey development.
“There were many smiles and much laughing. When you see the smile in the girls’ faces it’s the best prize for the organizer.”
Dozens of girls and women from the age of 6 to 45 game to Brisbane, one of the Australian venues during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. Ice Hockey Queensland together with the Brisbane Goannas and Southern Stars organized the event and after outfitting the girls they had one hour on ice being coached by team members and were also happy about receiving a green puck.
“The girls were extremely favourable, asking when and how to sign up with local clubs. The new girls were directed to the Southern Stars Club Come and Try Program. We will definitely see an increase in girls playing hockey locally,” said Jad Daley, Brisbane Goannas President and Ice Hockey Queensland Women’s Director.
122 participants from 9 to 32 years old came to Maaseik for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend, which was a two-day camp to learn and play games before the Ilse Robben Talent Award was given on Sunday.
“It is always a weekend with lots of fun and very little sleep. Everybody is super nice and the organizing people are willing to arrange a lot for you. Over 100 girls and women play 28 games, which are fun to play, not difficult and excitingly close. 8 Teams were put together, each with players of different ages and levels,” said Jenny Goessens of Girls Only Hockey Nederland.
“All Girls have fun with each other and see that more girls are coming play hockey. There are more and more coaches understand who girls’ hockey is important now and also see the fun of girls.”
The hockey playing girls and women in Umeå know that when the Girls Hockey Weekend rolls around, Åsa Thors and Trixa will be ready. For the fourth year in row, the club hosted a successful event that brought smiles onto the faces of everyone at and around the rink.
This year, Trixa had 30 participants in two groups, one for beginners, aged 4 to 9, and one for the more advanced players, aged 8-14.
“The girls arrived at the rink around 10:30 and started to get ready for ice practice that began 45 minutes later. The girls in the beginners’ group practiced skating and played some games, while the more advanced players also had stickhandling drills, and a scrimmaged,” Thors says.
After the practice the girls got a bracelet with the club’s name and “I love Hockey” on it.
“The parents watched the practice from the stands, and many of them said their daughters would be coming back to practices next week.
“The girls said that they had a great time. When the practice was over, they were surprised that it had gone so fast,” Thors says.
Time flies when you’re having fun.
In Denmark, a team of hockey players in Odense, got on a bus and traveled two hours east, towards Copenhagen, the nation’s capital, to celebrate women’s hockey, and to play a friendly game.
“All in all, we had 24 players, ranging from 11 years old to 41-year-olds,” says Christine Russell,Team Manager of the Gentofte Lady Stars who hosted the game. (Gentofte is a suburb of Copenhagen)
“The girls hockey weekend is a brilliant idea and a lot of fun. Everybody here enjoyed our event, including the spectators and the referees,” she adds.
Team White won the game 3-0, but this time there were only winners in the rink afterwards.
“Events like this have a great social impact in the community, and gets new girls to the sport, which inserts a “can-do” attitude in them,” says Russell.
That’s a story even the famous Danish storyteller H.C. Andersen’s would have been proud of. He was from Odense.
USA: Adrian MI
The Adrian Youth Hockey Association held a free Play Like A Girl event on Saturday at the Adrian College Arrington Ice Arena in Adrian, Minnesota. They had 20 participants from the age of 4 to 16 and volunteers from both the Adrian College Women's NCAA team and ACHA team.
The participants got a free equipment bag, skates, stick and jersey to join the players onto the ice for a game and a Learn to Play session where they were taught basic skating and stick handling skills.
“The participants had a lot of fun, the parents were very excited and surprised how well their girls did. We had a few of the participants sign up for our Learn To Play program that afternoon,” said Ann Smart, girls’ hockey development leader of the association. “Hockey is still a new sport to our community. Because of these events we have plugged five girls into our Mites program and three into our Squirts program!.”
Canada: Harbour Breton NL
Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” came out long before the girls in the Harbour Breton Minor Hockey Association were born. However, the optimism in the title phrase of that 1987 pop song certainly epitomizes how this small fishing community in southern Newfoundland, Canada approached the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend on Saturday – even while facing some technical difficulties.
Over 70 girls convened in two try hockey for free sessions hosted by the San Jose Jr. Sharks Girls, who also hosted two college Division 1 games. Additionally players and coaches from the two women’s teams held skills clinics for over 130 California girls for truly a festival of girls and women’s hockey in Northern California.
The girls were helped by teenage players of the organization while parents were introduced to the program and beginner hockey classes. Participants, parents, and volunteers were treated to coffee, hot cocoa, pastries, bagels and fruit after each event.
In between the two try-hockey sessions, a skills clinic was held for the current Jr. Sharks Girls and Anaheim Lady Duck players. The skills clinic was held on three sheets of ice and run by the University of Wisconsin and Providence College D1 women’s hockey players and coaches.
“A majority of participants and parents were interested in registering for more hockey classes. A few expressed interest in the in-house Jr. Sharks Rec. program as well as the Jr. Shark Girls program,” said Sheela Mohan-Peterson. “The event brings attention to girls hockey in a non-traditional hockey market – Northern California. It opens opportunities to play in college and beyond.”
50 games including 20 newcomers took part in the try-hockey event in Sodertalje. Click here for a featured story from the event.
It was a busy day at the Winter Palace in Sofia. Not only did the men’s national team play a game against Georgia to advance to the Olympic Qualification Preliminary Round, there was also the Global Girls’ Game and also a try-hockey session with 34 participants between the age of 8 and 30.
The girls were introduced to ice hockey and its rules in the classroom, to off-ice practices and then they went onto the ice. As a surprise the girls were observed by IIHF referee supervisor Freddy Reichen during their game. He came to Sofia for the Bulgaria vs. Georgia game and congratulated them to their great choice of playing ice hockey.
On the ice in Sofia was also multiple taekwan-do world champion Amalia Koleva, who is also on the Bulgarian women's national team in ice hockey.
USA: Orlando FL
The RDV Sportsplex Ice Den organized a try hockey for free for girls in Orlando, Florida with 15 participants ranged in age from mites to peewee. After receiving a free gift and borrowing the hockey gear, sticks and skates, the girls learned some skating and hockey skills and drills including stick-handling, passing, shooting and skating and they played fun games like keep away and tag.
“All of the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive. The girls had a great time and the coaches truly enjoyed helping their experience,” said Doug Wemple, the hockey manager of the venue. “I hope to have a bunch of new girls who want to keep playing the game of hockey after their experience today. Our goal is to grow a love and passion of the game for all.”
The Someron Pallon junior organization hosted the event with 15 girls and four coaches at the TPE-spirit Arena. The youngest was only three years old, the oldest 11. After getting the pink jerseys and the name written on the helmets, the girls hit the ice for games and a skating circuit. Each years some of the girls stay in hockey and join the club and that’s what Maija Laine, responsible for girls’ hockey and a coach, hopes this year too.
Malaysia: Petaling Jaya
Malaysia has another successful World Girls‘ Ice Hockey Weekend in the books. Or part of it. Two separate 90-minute sessions are planned at Sunway Pyramid Ice located in the Sunway Pyramid Mall in Petaling Jaya. The first took place on Saturday with 20 girls aged 7 to 22, the second sessions will be staged on Sunday. Saturday was also the first ever “Hari Sukan Malaysia”, the Malaysian Sports Day with many sporting activities held across the country.
After getting their T-shirts and goodie bags with snacks and drinks, the volunteers were ready to help the girls into the hockey gear. Eight female coaches and volunteers, all ice hockey players themselves, demonstrated and guided the participants through basic skills and drills. The participants also had the opportunity to play a variety of fun on-ice games.
“It was a great event to participate in on the Malaysia Sports Day and I hope to join the Malaysian Ice Hockey Federation one day when I am a great skater. It was so much fun!” commented Nur Mahirah binti Brahim, one of the participants.
“It was awesome to be registered in ice hockey. It's wonderful, and the teacher is awesome!" added Nur Qamareena bt Md Rani.
In the last few years the initiative has been used as a first step to bring girls to the skating and hockey classes and often the participants are later joined by other girls and also boys after a first great experience.
The organizers were joined by Minnesotan goalie coach Tanya Sletten. Her presence and especially her efforts to communicate in Bahasa Malaysia were appreciated by the crowd. Language is no barrier in sharing the love for hockey.
Swiss national team goaltender and Olympic bronze medallist Florence Schelling hosted 60 Girls between the age of 4 and 12 years at the Swiss Arena in Kloten, Switzerland. An advanced group went for off-ice training first for approximately 45 min, while the beginners group was on the ice for an hour before switching up. The event concluded with an autograph session by Florence Schelling, Julia & Stefanie Marty and Sara Benz, all girls from the Sochi 2014 Swiss Olympic Bronze Team.
“One girl that was the youngest girl at last year’s event barely stand on the skates or even skate back then,” said Schelling. “She came up to me this year and told me that she loved it so much last year that she started playing hockey and thanked me so much for having given her this opportunity.”
“The Girls' Hockey Weekend is a great event and brings together women's hockey across the world,” she added. “It’s great to see what other countries are doing to develop women's hockey, and then to get to do something for the development in my own country is a privilege!”