Welcome to the World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend tracker on 7/8 October 2017. 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.
23 girls and ladies were on ice at the first-ever World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in Thailand. The event took place at The Rink Ice Arena, which is located in the Central Plaza Grand Rama9 shopping mall in Bangkok. The full-size rink recently hosted events of the IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia.
The Thai women’s national team has played in such events since 2014. At the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia on home ice they beat the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, India, Malaysia and Singapore but were not able to keep up with the continent’s big nations at the 2017 Asian Winter Games with clear losses to Korea, China, Japan and Kazakhstan but a 5-4 win against Hong Kong.
Members of the women’s national team were on-site as well to help the young girls in their first ice hockey experience and to work on the future of Thai women’s ice hockey.
The girls’ hockey club Kojotki Naprzod Janow was the only Polish club organizing a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event but they made the best out of the opportunity at the Jantor ice rink in Katowice. About 100 participants joined for the event hosted by the club that runs girls’ teams that play in U10 and U14 boys’ leagues.
Small girls came to the event as well as young ladies and hockey mums. On Saturday it was the U10 team that showed its skills and each girl took a friend with them to try the sport. Later the U18 team had a game against one of the most unique teams – the hockey moms from the Polonia Bytom Ladies. Later the Kojotki’s women’s team played their league game against Stoczniowiec Gdansk.
The club was founded in 2015 when there was only a women’s team in Katowice but not many young girls taking up the sport.
“The club is growing, girls’ hockey is more popular and now we have 70 girls playing hockey in here. Every two months we organize some event to promote this sport and our members and the community are supporting us. Girls know that it’s the best chance to meet new friends, learn about fair play, cooperation, teamwork and have fun,” said Anna Rehlich, the chairperson of the club.
“In Poland girls’ hockey is still not very popular so the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend can help girls feeling that they are not alone in their love for hockey. Now they are part of boys’ junior league, because they are the only girls’ team in Poland. We hope that such an event and our hard work will convince other clubs to focus on girls’ hockey too – it’s worth it!”
Maybe the work could be imitated elsewhere too as two chairmen of other clubs visited to the event to see with their own eyes how many girls play the sport and how to start a girls’ team.
60 girls and young ladies between 6 and 17 years came to the ice rink in Galati where the local club Dunarea organized one of Romania’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events.
Many girls were brought to the rink by juniors who already were with the club, others followed the invitations at schools. After getting the equipment on the girls and their parents and teachers felt safe for them to go onto the ice and try skating and hockey drills. Several players from the club helped them and were the living example that ice hockey is fun for girls too. While the club is not ready yet to have a full girls’ team, it welcomes girls to play on the boys’ teams.
“The girls enjoyed the event, definitely, and some of them decided to try having the experience again next week during the practice for beginners. Some of the newspapers reporters wrote short articles about this and some of the parents were surprised that ice hockey is for the girls too,” said Cristi Munteanu, who coaches the U18 and U16 teams of the club.
USA: Newark NJ Trying hockey on NHL ice during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend? The New Jersey Devils made it possible! Following Saturday’s home opener against the Colorado Avalanche 60 girls from little girls to 14-year-olds hit the ice but they were even involved before. Each of the ten clubs was represented by one player who participated in the NJ Devils Locker Room High Five Tunnel welcoming the players onto the ice and 200 complimentary tickets for the game were made ready for them and their families.
During the first intermission a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend promo game happened on the ice and the Devils announced their partnership with the Metropolitan Riveters – the first partnership between an NHL franchise and an NWHL team.
After the game the girls got gift bags and former Devils player and ’95 Stanley Cup champion Bruce Driver, who works as a girls’ hockey coach, and Riveters captain Ashley Johnston welcomed the participants for the clinic on the main ice led by USA Hockey Female ADM Manager Emily West and the entire Riveters team.
“We were blown away. It was a first-class experience and we are so thankful for setting this event up to celebrate and promote girls’ hockey,” said Kevin Fox, Sr. Manager for Grassroots & Amateur Hockey Operations at the Devils.
For him and his crew the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend is always one of the favourite grassroots events of the year and growing youth hockey, especially girls’ hockey, is a priority for the New Jersey Devils organization, which is also shown in the new partnership with the NWHL’s Metropolitan Riveters. The team that started as New York Riveters in 2015 has meantime moved from Brooklyn to the Prudential Center and was renamed to Metropolitan Riveters.
“Just watching these young girls interact with the Metropolitan Riveters during the game, after the game & on the ice was amazing. The hockey community is so unique. It’s by far one of the most impactful events we’ll do all year and we’re always happy to support the WGIHW however we can here in New Jersey. We look forward to being a leader in growing girls hockey in our area.”
Canada: Revelstoke BC
The women’s hockey team Revelstoke Kodiaks organized an event at the Revelstoke Forum where they were joined by 16 female players aged 5-50 and 20 spectators. It was an hour-long practice and scrimmage with female players of all ages. Several girls are in minor hockey and were able to help newcomers with the gear. Three girls had their moms play hockey with them.
“The practice was a fun mix of serious and not so serious skills followed by a short scrimmage. The young girls then went off the ice where pizza and muffins waited for them while the women played an hour-long scrimmage. After the scrimmage and a lot of fun there was more pizza for adults,” said team member Nadja Luckau.
“The feedback from the players was absolutely positive. Everybody thought we should do this kinds of practice more often. Everybody had a lot of fun. One family had come to watch the practice, because their young granddaughter had just moved into town from New Zealand and had never watched a hockey game before. They asked a lot of question about female hockey in Revelstoke and they were very interested in what we do.
“I think for our organization, which is basically a women’s drop-in hockey team, it is a good reminder that we should promote our sport more and try to engage more young players. Hockey is not very big in our town, as it has to compete with a lot of other activities. It is always good to look at the bigger picture and get more players involved.”
USA: Clinton NY
The CNY Bobcats organized a girls’ try-hockey-for-free event at Clinton Arena with girls from 5 to 12 coming for the Saturday afternoon ice session. Current players helped the newcomers to feel confident during a free play session before they were split into groups for an hour where local female collegiate players worked with them on their skating, passing and shooting.
“A lot of the parents mentioned how it was great to have such an event where their child can try something new. Parents were also impressed with the participation of the local collegiate players who took time out of their weekend to help make the event even more memorable for the girls,” said Timothy Tynatishon, the Bobcats’ treasurer and assistant coach of the 10U team.
“This event is great because it allows girls to try something different, that they normally may not attempt on their own. Also it was a great event for our current players because it gives them some leadership skill and a sense of community. It was also important for the college players who attended, as they get to re-live the days when they began playing the great sport of ice hockey.”
USA: Trenton MI
Ready to play some hockey? Three hours of ice time were reserved at the Kennedy Recreation Center for the Trenton Hockey Association’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event. 22 participants came to play a game for 10-year-olds and under followed by a try-hockey-for-free session with five girls and a 12U game with 25 participants. The games were played between the home club Trenton Blades and the Sylvania North Stars.
“It was very positive. The participants were very happy and had fun. The community loves that we are trying to get more girls playing ice hockey,” said Gordon Dale, the President and 12U girls’ coach. “It provided us with more visibility. The community is noticing us more and should help us add more girls to our program.”
Ukraine: various cities
For the second time the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend hit Ukraine with events in various cities. HC Ukrainochka organized its girls’ day on Saturday in Kyiv and the capital city was not alone. The Dnepr Queens had events on both days in Dnipro. The Dnepr Squirrels organized an event in the city as well on Sunday.
Women’s hockey in Ukraine is rather new but the country successful organized a women’s league last season and from its players a national team was formed to play exhibition games against its cross-Black Sea neighbour Turkey. The numbers went up against after the start of the recruiting campaign last year to currently 122 female players in the country.
The Bietigheim-Bissingen Steelers, a club in southern Germany close to Stuttgart, had 40 girls and young ladies from 4- to 20-year-olds coming to their event on Sunday.
Skates, helmet and other equipment was waiting for the participants in the dressing room and a bar with hot and cold drinks and cakes was set up. On the ice they learned skating, passing and shooting with the coaches and some players from the club’s women’s team.
“We got really nice feedback from all participants. We will take part in the IIHF’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Day in 2018 for sure,” said club manager Gregor Rustige.
“It is a perfect event to tell the people that hockey is not only for boys. But it is one point to bring the girls to such an event and then to make them come to hockey practices regularly.”
South Africa: Pretoria
The South African Ice Hockey Federation with the local clubs Pretoria Capitals and Pretoria Ice Hawks organized an event with 30 girls from the age of 4 to 16 participating at the Grove Ice Rink in Pretoria.
Following a region women’s competition on Friday evening a skills development camp was held for all participants and two games were played on Saturday and Sunday evening. On Saturday morning new girls came for a try-hockey session. For some it was the first time on the ice so they got skating penguins borrowed. The girls were then divided into two groups depending on their skating abilities and coached by national team players.
After the skating session the girls were invited to have some face painting done and got some information.
“It was clear that all participants enjoyed the day, and we hope to recruit most of the participants, the parents also enjoyed the day. Some of the other club owners from other parts of the region also came to see how everything went off and were very impressed with the day,” said Antoinette Botta, the SIHA Treasurer.
“The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend has a huge impact on the community and organization. This is probably the most successful event we had in form of a women’s recruitment drive. We started a development women’s program league two years back in our biggest region Gauteng, we made four women’s teams (all ages) out of our seven clubs and they started by playing half-ice games. As players improved and progressed they were selected for our Junior Panthers team competing in our U16 boys league, from there they are promoted to our Black Panthers team competing in out U18 boys league. The girls are also allowed to play with the boys’ teams in their respective clubs when their women’s team does not have a scheduled game. We are already starting to reap the benefits of the program by seeing young players being selected for our women’s national squad, and putting pressure on the older players to work harder for their spot in the national team.
“The most positive coming out of this event is the fact that our women’s national team players are giving back to the sport. It was also so encouraging to see the young women’s squad member getting on the ice and helping out and enjoying giving back to these new participants.”
Photo: Urban Beauty Project
Mexico: Mexico City
Sport has the power to heal and bring communities together. In a small way, the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in Mexico City on Saturday showed how true that is. Read our feature from Mexico here.
30 girls and women from 3 to 40 years of age came to the Olympic Ice Rink in Brasov for one of Romania’s events during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
It was an enthusiastic atmosphere during the two-hour ice session with sometimes mothers and daughters skating side by side. The warm-up exercises were followed by skating and stick-handling drills to get ready for the final, short ice hockey game for each age group.
The key word of the day was to have fun and the slogan: “Hockey is great, but girls’ hockey is gorgeous!”
“There was a clear message taken: hockey is a great sport and girls have their reserved spot on it,” said yough coach Marius Trandafir.
Money magazine has frequently cited Eden Prairie as one of the best places to live in the United States. If you’re a young female hockey player or a girl who aspires to play this great sport, that certainly rings true. Read here our feature from Minnesota.
The Turnhout Tijgers organized a girls’ day with 35 participants in Belgium on Sunday afternoon. They practised together and played some games in sections on the ice before being drafted into two teams to play a hockey game.
“They were very happy with the event and many of the girls would like to have a similar event in the future. The parents were excited too. The club of Turnhout helped us with the preparations and setup. They were also very pleased with the event,” said Katarina Huyghe, women’s program manager at the Royal Belgian Ice Hockey Federation. One player came from inline hockey and wanted to get to know how it feels on the ice while the event game the opportunity to one goalie to switch roles with a skater.
“Hopefully we will have more girls coming to the event next year and also stimulate girls who have never played ice hockey before.”
The Polar Bear family in Berlin is growing as the capital’s club Eisbaren Berlin respectively its youth hockey association Eisbaren Juniors adds a women’s team for the top women’s hockey league, Frauen-Bundesliga. That’s a good time to join in for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend where 60 girls kept the 15 coaches at the Wellblechpalast, the club’s traditional home in the eastern district of Hohenschonhausen, busy. We had a chat with managing director Marc Dannbeck about the club opening up for women’s hockey. Read the featured story from Berlin here and find a video from the event below.
As one of Denmark's true hockey hotbeds and co-host of the men's 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship next May, the women's game is showing signs of fine progress in Herning.
Around 25 girls between the ages of 4-40 years gathered for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend, one of the three similar events held across Denmark.
The participants were to be in good hands under the watchful guidance of Lone Jessen, a blueliner for Herning who also was won the accolade as top domestic youth coach of the year at the Danish Hockey awards in June.
"The girls arrived around 3 pm and plenty of helpers found equipment for them and helped them to suit up. At 3.45pm we went on the ice and also got a visit by two players from the Danish women's national team," said Jessen.
"On ice, we did skating drills, some fun drills where the players pulled each other from end to end and then we played some mini-games. After we were on ice the participants got cake and lemonade, a ticket to go see a game with the pro men's team in Herning and a merchandise cap from Herning Ishockey Klub."
It was to be an event with all smiles around at the Jutland peninsula where many of the new faces are expected to return.
"They all seemed very positive and had a lot of fun. Lots of laughs were shared on the ice and I hope it will get more girls interested in playing," said Jessen.
"We will have another event next week with schoolgirls. With it being a national holiday for the schools we joined a program where kids can have an active vacation and try different sports. At this moment 20 girls already signed up for this event," she said.
Photo: Torben Overgaard
Hockey with an international flavour was at the centre stage inside the Odense Isstadion on the Danish island of Fyn this weekend.
Odense IK hosted the World Girls‘ Ice Hockey Weekend with a multi-national contingent of 20 taking part. With participants from the ages of 7 to 40 and of Danish, Norwegian, Polish, French, German and Spanish origin, it was to be a joyful afternoon.
"We were out on the ice between 12.30 to 13.45," said Charlotte Poulsen, team manager of Odense IK's women's team. "To being with our coach made some easy skating exercises, followed by players trying to handle the puck before towards the end of the session they played small games in the end zones," Poulsen said of an afternoon where the love of the game united the participants of various ages.
"We had great and fun time and also had some hockey moms participating who got a new respect for the sport their kids are playing," said Poulsen. "After the session for our newcomers, we had also invited former women players to make a comeback. Some of them had not been on the ice for 15-20 years and afterward we took a trip down memory lane in the locker room," she said.
Photo: Kasper Glintborg
135 girls and women came to Maaseik for a two-day World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event. They were split into groups and the first game happened between the Puck Divas and the Chicks on Fire. In total nine teams were formed and two coaches for each team as well as five referees and other officials helped out as volunteers.
Most of the girls slept in a dormitory and got of early to have breakfast together on Sunday morning as the tournament continued at 9am. At the end every team recived a cup which was picked up by the youngest player of each team. The Ilse Robben Cup for the most talented player of the weekend went to Babs Teschers and the Ilse Robben Cup for a person who does a lot for women’s ice hockey was won by Mandy Gooijer.
The event brings girls from the country together who normally play on boys’ teams and once a year, during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend, the play together only with girls and make many new friends. It is also an opportunity for them to be on the ice with women’s national team players.
Czech Republic: Svetla nad Sazavou
The Czech Ice Hockey Association organized three events with 46 participants in Pribram, 45 in Svetla nad Sazavou and 34 in Blansko with this picture coming from the event in Svetla nad Sazavou where the event started on Sunday morning with a warm-up before the first ice session with exercises for puck handling, slalom skating, shooting, playing with a ball, jumping over obstacles and playing tag. Afterwards the girls played a mini-hockey game before doing some skills exercises such as shootout, skating with parachutes and shooting with speed measurement. Afterwards the participants got a hockey stick, pink pucks, a pink bag and a T-shirt with the logo.
It was the first time the association organized several events parallelly in different regions of the country so everybody could find a venue.
“The reactions from the girls and parents were great as usually. There were many of them who come maybe on every event, on the other hand there were many new. 125 participants altogether is a really great number! Always it’s really nice to see how the girls enjoy every goal they score and so on. We know that the long program is tiring, but this is also one of our targets as the girls can leave here all the energy they have – and it’s really a lot of energy, even in the end. And also the parents are glad that they have a program for the whole day,” said Martin Voltr, who covered the Czech events for hokej.cz.
“We all feel that the main impact should be that the girls can recognize that there are so many other hockey girls in the republic. In their clubs they sometimes play alone [among boys]. They may be not so confident, they may feel uncomfortable about girls playing hockey. And then they come to this event and meet so many same girls doing the same. They make new friendships which can last for a really long time. They also see girls from national teams and they can have new targets, new dreams.”
Among the national team players present was Alena Polenska. The team captain supported the event on the ice in Svetla nad Sazavou.
“This was my first participation in the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. I’ve heard about it in the past few years, I always wanted to participate, but this is the only time I was in Czech Republic for this. I’m really happy I was able to participate. I’ve also heard it’s getting better every year because more girls come. One can really see the difference, how from one year to another more little girls are coming to these events,” Polenska said.
“I think this Girls‘ Ice Hockey Weekend is a great idea. It was well organized, a lot of girls came, and they were really excited to be on the ice. For me personally it was really awesome to see more than 40 little girls on the ice. Because when I was little, I only knew two other girls of my age. I can see the difference between 15 years ago and now, it’s amazing to see how girls’ hockey is growing. I was just talking to a parent and she said that they are four girls on their team. What was really interesting for me was that the little girls are always super excited to be on the ice, to touch the puck, to skate, whatever was happening on the ice. It’s good to see that they love the game. They spent around three hours on the ice and I think it was tiring for them, but they kept going and they enjoyed every second of it.”
Photo: Martin Voltr
HC Wettern hosted the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend at the Kungsvalla Icearena in Vadstena.
Ten players - three of them complete beginners - stepped out onto the ice under the guidance of three coaches.
"We were out on the ice for about an hour and afterward we got together for a snack. All the participants were positive for the activity," said Nils-Ake Skoglund of HC Wettern
The club in blue and white taking its name from its location on the eastern shore of Sweden's second largest lake, Vattern, were overall very positive to the event and now hope their new young recruits will return for more.
Great Britain: various cities
Ice Hockey UK sponsored three World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in different cities. Attracting participants of all ages, this was a smashing success in the country that currently sits 23rd in the IIHF Women’s World Ranking.
Nottingham hit the bull’s-eye with an on-ice skill session for 22 attendees, organized by the Vipers, the local senior women’s hockey team, at the National Ice Centre. The Whitley Bay Ice Club got 22 participants out for a combination of off-ice activities and on-ice skills. And the Sheffield Shadows club had 100 participants enjoying free skating and sampling hockey at Ice Sheffield. The Sheffield event was tied into the “This Girl Can” campaign, which promotes sports for local women.
“The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend will help to grow female participation in the UK and across the world,” said event coordinator Ryan Rathbone. “It was great to get involved with some new clubs who have not taken part in the initiative previously as well.”
Russia: various cities
In Russia the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend was busier than ever with Russia’s Women’s Hockey League getting right behind this year. All seven teams staged events across Russia to mark the occasion with a series of master-classes stretching right across the country from St. Petersburg on the Baltic to Ukhta in the far North and Krasnoyarsk in central Siberia, about 350 people took part – 150 regular players with girls’ teams and a further 200 girls and young women who were new to hockey and, in some cases, stepping onto the ice for the first time. In addition a local organization organized another girls’ event in Moscow. Read our feature from Russia here.
The local club Smoke Eaters Geleen together with IJshockey Nederland welcomed 17 new participants from 5 to 11 years of age who were joined by five girls who were already club members.
After watching a youth hockey game they had two hours to try hockey on the ice themselves at several stations: starters’ skating rink with assistance, balloon hockey, fun shooting, mini-game, meet and greet with Blue Devil mascot, first-division players and girls’ national team players. Off the ice there was shuffleboard shooting and water-bottle shooting to test their accuracy. Cake and drinks, merchandise, promotion and face painting was ready in the visitors’ room.
“It was a fun event with a lot of support from within our club and IJshockey Nederland. Joining our forces to present both our club and girls’ hockey was a great choice,” said Ginny Isbouts of the Smoke Eaters.
Some participants came after seeing the flyers, others just by accident when visiting the ice and swimming facility.
“The kids and parent were very enthusiastic. There were lots of volunteers. Coaches, parents and volunteers joined to welcome the new visitors and let them have a fun time on the ice. We are very certain some of them caught the hockey virus,” said Jenny Goessens of IJshockey Nederland.
“I’m very sure presenting girls’ hockey in this way was an eye-opener to most visitors. In our club girls’ hockey is already common practice, this was an excellent way to make this more known in our community.”
One of Iceland’s girls’ event during the weekend took place in the northern town of Akureyri. 45 girls between the age of 4 and 15 tried ice hockey for the first time and 50 girls from the local club Skautafealg Akureyrar joined in for fun.
The girls, who mostly got to know the event from the posters at school or through friends, were greeted and then helped with the helmets, skates and sticks before joining their colleagues in one of the three age groups on the ice. At the stations they practised skating, passing and penalty shots against goalies from the club. Later the girls played scrimmages and off the ice they were able to take photos with Icelandic national team players and have hot chocolate or other drinks.
“Everyone was very happy with the day. Some girls stayed on the ice for three hours straight! This has also become an important annual event for us as a club because it brings all the current female players together as a group,” said Sarah Smiley, head of hockey development at the club.
“I believe the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend helps to strengthen our identity as a women’s/girls’ friendly sports organization in the community. For young girls to come in to the arena and be surrounded and supported by an all-female group of hockey players makes a safe environment for them to try hockey in. This may encourage them to try to practise in the future and it also gives the participants and parents positive exposure to the sport.”
With HC SKP Bratislava having its game of the Slovak league on the road against Polish team KTH Krynica, the team didn’t organize a try-hockey event at home but decided to join in the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend by playing in a special pink jersey with the #WGIHW logo.
“Many people asked why we played the game in pink jerseys because our regular jerseys are navy blue and white. We explained them that this weekend is a special one for promoting the women’s game,” said the team’s GM Lubomira Kozanova.
Slovakia: Liptovsky Mikulas
20 girls came to the Titan Arena in the Slovak city of Liptovsky Mikulas. Most of them were between 5 and 33 years old although the youngest member at the arena was just five months young.
After getting the skates, sticks and equipment borrowed, the girls entered the ice that was split into five different sections. In the first one they exercised by collecting tennis balls, in the second they had a slalom obstacle course, then they tested their shooting abilities and in the fourth area there was a mini hockey game. On centre ice was the area for the youngest girls to learn skating. At the end all girls got their diploma and some refreshments in the dressing room.
“All the girls liked the event a lot, especially those who tried wearing the hockey equipment for the first time. We were satisfied with the participation of girls on the event although we do not have a women’s hockey team in our town,” said Jozef Kasanicky, Vice Chairman of the MHK32 Liptovsky MIkulas youth organization. And that’s why the event was done. The club hopes to attract more girls and be able to run a women’s hockey team in the future.
Photo: Megie Photography
Karlskrona HK has reached a lot in Swedish men’s hockey since its founding in 2001. Hosting a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in all seven years, the club also managed to launch women’s hockey and has high ambitions there too. Read our featured story from Sweden here.
Photo: Magnus Lejhall
30 girls and ladies between the age of 4 and 40 came to Bulgaria’s girls’ day on Sunday at the Winter Sports Palace in the capital of Sofia that was organized by the Bulgarian Ice Hockey Federation with the women’s national team and local clubs.
After meeting at the locker room the older players helped the younger ones with the equipment to start an hour of ice sessions. Since the little kids wanted to have fun, it actually started with a game straight away. Afterwards everybody got a prize since everybody was a winner.
“The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend is a great opportunity for every single girl who is playing ice hockey. We truly believe that ice hockey is suitable for girls. Hockey is for everyone,” said women’s national team player Vanesa Georgieva, who set up the event.
“All the girls were happy and really excited about that possibility to skate and play hockey side by side with girls from the national team. They loved the time they spent on the ice.”
Normally Swiss women’s national team goalie Florence Schelling plays her hockey in autumn at Swedish club Linkopings HC. But for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend she came back to Switzerland to host an event in Kloten, the city that hosts Zurich’s international airport, for the second time.
50 girls from the age of 4 to 12 joined Schelling at the Swiss Arena where the participants were split into two groups who would alternate between an on- and off-ice session. The girls used the break for a group photo while after the sessions they were able to get autographs from Schelling and former national team player Jana Heuscher.
What surprised her were six girls who all play together on one team. “We were laughing and asking if they had some boys on their team too or if they rule this team,” she said.
Schelling was overwhelmed by the reactions. “It was pure joy! The feedback was very positive. There were a lot of laughs and happy faces,” the three-time Olympian said. “The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend has quite a good impact but it needs to expand more, it needs more support from the national federation.”
Espoon kiekkoseura organized their Girls’ Hockey Day on Sunday. 33 girls joined the events including 12 who tried ice hockey for the very first time. They were 5- to 10-year-olds.
The girls went through several activity areas on the ice. After one hour the girls joined by players from the Blues women’s team played a friendly game before everybody got some waffles and juice.
Olympic bronze medallist Minttu Tuominen brought her medal with her, which the girls were able to try on.
“In Finland the Girls’ Hockey Day is a big step for new girls to join teams. Luckily from the 12 girls four or five will visit us again and maybe start a new hobby,” said Iiro Pylvalainen, the girls’ hockey manager of the club. “Everyone liked our events, and of course the waffles! Nobody goes home with a sad face.”
Ice Hockey Victoria organized one of the four World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend events in Australia. The come-and-try event was held at the O’Brien Group Arena in Docklands with 34 participants. Daughters, sisters, parents and friends came from near and far to try out ice hockey in a fun environment and with 22 volunteers helping them to gear up for the ice.
The coaches taught the girls basic skating skills, how to move and how to stop before they tried out skills and drills.
“We are so grateful to IIHF, Ice Hockey Australia, Ice Hockey Victoria and O’Brien Group Arena for the opportunity to introduce new people to the game we love, to be able to share the passion, challenge and joy of ice hockey,” said Julie Cantrill, Ice Hockey Victoria’s women’s director.
For her the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend has become an important event in the calendar to allow girls to try ice hockey, break down stereotypes and show that a physically and mentally challenging sport like is hockey is being offered in a safe, fun and friendly environment to encourage also less confident people to try it.
Slovakia: Spisska Nova Ves
Last year Spisska Nova Ves was an IIHF tournament host. And on Sunday morning the local club was again on the global hockey map as one of the cities joining in for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
Nine girls from 4 to 11 years of age joined the event hosted by HC Spisska Nova Ves. Welcomed by the mascot, the girls got their helmets and skates on for the ice session led by women’s national team player Barbora Kezmarska, who has recently served as assistant coach for the U18 women’s national team.
They worked on basic skating skills and played tag games with mascot Goooly involved to cheer on them. After getting more hockey gear on they practised with the puck and played a small-ice hockey game before photo shootings, certificates, presents and information how they can join ice hockey.
“The kids enjoyed their first contact with girls’ hockey. The parents were taking pictures, were happy to have a little snack and at the bench team members were ready to answer their questions,” said Tomas Cerny, manager of the club.
“We have held this event for the third time and the girls who joined the team always enjoyed the event.”
Former U18 women’s national team coach Andrea Kroni and her club EHC Kreuzlingen-Konstanz, where she’s a board member, made their arena at the shore of Lake Constance the third venue of Switzerland to ever host a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. After the opening of a sport school next to the rink, she has the ambition to make Kreuzlingen a centre for women’s hockey and told us more in our featured story from Switzerland.
Ireland (Northern): Belfast
While the Republic of Ireland is looking for a new ice rink, the Irish Ice Hockey Association held their World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in exile across the border at the Dundonald Ice Bowl in Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK).
The Irish had an hour available and 15 participants came who were between 15 and 30 years old. After the travel up north the Irish girls were determined to make the most out of the event. It got off a flying start with fun skating and stickhandling drills.
Although there was a mixture of abilities on the ice the participants came together in true hockey fashion, encouraging, helping and supporting one another throughout the session. “This is what the sport of hockey is all about” commented Sonya McEneaney, the Female Development Officer for the Irish Ice Hockey Association. “Although we haven’t had a rink in the Republic of Ireland for the last seven years, the passion for hockey is still very much alive and is evident at events such as this. The girls travelled quite a distance to participate in this late-night session and do so on a regular basis for a bit of ice time, they should be commended.”
The session ended with a 3-on-3 game and a dive-and-slide race as seen in the video below:
Seven girls came to the Galleria Ice Rink in Amanzimtoti near Durban for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event hosted by the DurbaKnights Ice Hockey Club. They were between 9 and 15 years old.
They got their special T-shirt and started with games on the ice such as freeze tag, Mr Wolf, Simon Says, Obstacle Course and Marco Polo on ice where they were joined by boys from the club. The hour ended with a little scrimmage before the girls received their certificate and they and the supporters and parents got some sweets.
“It was really cool that we had our own day,” said Kayleigh, one of the participants. “It was lots of fun drills.”
“I’m going to start ice hockey. I just want to say thanks to everyone for the ice hockey day. It was really fun!” Marizelle said.
“In Durban, it has been really difficult to recruit girls to this sport because other sporting codes take preference. The bonding between the girls was clearly palpable. They had a lot of fun siding against the boys who absorbed the lighthearted fun,” said Michelle Murphy, the Chairperson of the club.
From Queenstown below to Queensland in Australia. There 70 participants between the age of 4 and over 50 came to the Ice World rink in the Brisbane area including some hockey mums.
The Brisbane Goannas Women’s Ice Hockey Club and the Southern Stars Ice Hockey Club helped the newcomers with equipment and skates and Goannas’ assistant coach Megan Gilchrist led the one-hour ice session. The participants were split into six groups depending on their age and skill to be rotated through various stations which included passing, shooting, puck handling and an obstacle course, which produced lots of smiles and laughing from all ages.
“The feedback received was extremely positive. Everyone had lots of fun with many of the beginners showing interest in the upcoming ‘Come and Try’ sessions being hosted by the local clubs. The schedule for the Brisbane Goannas Ice Hockey team were also handed out with information on their home games in the Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League,” said Lee Brown, women’s director at Ice Hockey Queensland.
“I believe the World Girls’ Ice Hockey event opens the eyes of many to how many girls/women are interested in playing ice hockey. Ice hockey in Brisbane is small compared to the traditional Australian sports. By hosting events like World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend, it enables participants to have a go at something new and challenging. The best part of the day is the smiles and laughter you hear on and off the ice. The event also enables old ice hockey players who may not have played for a while to come back out for a session.”
Yesterday we wrote here about the successful World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend event in Malaysia. This video takes you to the ice in Kuala Lumpur to follow the event. 75 participants joined for the second day. They were encouraged by their parents and some mothers joined on the ice as well.
"One of the participants stated that she is an NHL fan, but never would have imagined that she would be trying ice hockey for the first time in Malaysia. She recently found out that Malaysia has ice hockey. She plans to pick up ice hockey as a sport and would dream of becoming a national player one day," said Hilda Zamri, the women's national team's team manager.
Sauk Prairie Youth Hockey hosted a successful World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event on Saturday with a great ratio of hockey newcomers to happy volunteers. Twelve girls between the ages of 3 and 11 came out, and they were welcomed by 20 volunteers.
The afternoon event at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center saw girls getting fitted for equipment before hitting the ice with local coaches and high school skaters. In addition to honing their skating, shooting and passing skills, the youngsters enjoyed games of tag and shootouts and tried full-fledged hockey. A pizza party provided a tasty conclusion to the festivities in this village of 4,000 people, situated northeast of Madison and west of the Wisconsin River.
“Every one of the participants indicated they will sign up for youth hockey this year,” said Sauk Prairie Youth Hockey Association board member Jeremy Gesicki. “Parents were surprised with how fast their girls took to skating.”
The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend is expected to become an annual event here. Kelly Zuelke effused about her daughter’s experience: “Olivia had a wonderful day. Thank you to all the coaches and families that have made us feel welcome.”
USA: VERONA, WI
Some scholars believe The Two Gentlemen of Verona was Shakespeare’s first play. However, on Saturday in Verona, Wisconsin, the focus was squarely on the 36 girls aged 4-12 who came out to play during World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
A two-hour on-ice session at the Verona Ice Arena included stickhandling lessons, drills, obstacle courses, and hockey games. Volunteers were happy to assist novice skaters. Afterwards, the girls enjoyed pizza and snacks. It was a joint presentation of four local clubs, the West Madison Polar Caps, Middleton Wings, Verona Wildcats, and WI Ice Spirit.
“Almost all participants are looking to join a learn-to-play program,” said organizer Alicia Pelton, who works with the West Madison Polar Caps and founded the Athletic Leadership Alliance. “The clubs are considering offering a special program for these girls to learn to skate and play before joining a recreational or club team.”
Promotion through the @GirlsHockeyWI Twitter account and TV interviews on NBC 15 helped to spread awareness and build excitement as women’s hockey grows in the area.
Hong Kong: Kowloon
Hong Kong annually takes part in the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend and also this year had a great coming-out ag Mega Ice at the Mega Box shopping mall. Around 120 participants joined in between the age of 8 and 53 despite the ice time only starting at 20:45 in the night.
After the registration those who needed help with the equipment got help the member of the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Association. Depending on their skill and age the girls and ladies joined one of the four groups on the ice. Ten national team players and the national coach were there to help.
“There were few girls who were so scared to get on the ice at the beginning but after one hour of practice they didn’t want to leave the ice when the event is finish. We have received comment said how fun and exciting ice hockey is,” said board member Leo Kan. “There are few players who are willing to join the winter training program next season. The World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend has really helped the growth of the number of female ice hockey players.”
The SportONE Parkview Icehouse welcomed 25 girls between the ages of 4 and 11 to its special Saturday event, and the Midwest city of Fort Wayne, best-known for the successful minor-league Komets, added another chapter to its women’s hockey history.
The goal was to encourage local enrollment in hockey among girls, and there were assistants on hand to help the girls get their equipment on. On-ice stations were set up to help newbies learn how to skate, shoot and stickhandle. Afterwards, everyone got prizes plus information on how to join the Icehouse’s hockey programs. The good vibes were unmistakable.
“The participants all came off the ice smiling,” said Nancy Lamothe, the office manager with Canlan Ice Sports. “We had a few tears with a couple of the younger ones and our instructors were able to help them out and they ended up sticking with it and having a good time. We had hockey games going on in the building and many of the parents and spectators thought it was a great event. Many commented that they loved what we offered and did.”
What’s the next step?
“I am going to request sanctioning through my district to host another Girls Try Hockey for Free event at the end of December,” said Lamothe. “I hope to capitalize on the success of this event and also the upcoming Olympics to hopefully gain more interest from girls.”
USA: CHASKA, MN
Minnesota is often dubbed the “State of Hockey,” and what happened in a small city just outside Minneapolis on Saturday certainly justifies that nickname. At the Chaska Community Center, the Chaska Chanhassen Hockey Association and the Storm Hawks Girls Hockey program co-hosted a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event.
Approximately 35 girls attended, with ages ranging from 5 to 17. Upon arrival at 8:30 am, they could grab breakfast, enjoy a scavenger hunt, get their photos taken with high school players, tour the varsity locker room, or practice their stickhandling and shooting skills. Next up was a circuit training session, and then nutritionist Christina Jax oversaw a presentation on good hockey nutrition.
The girls enjoyed an hour on the ice with former Storm Hawk Emma Hinze and German national team defender Anna Fiegert, who played at the 2015 and 2017 Women’s Worlds and also captained Minnesota State University. A group photo and prize raffle rounded out the celebrations.
“The parents were very thankful for the event,” said Heather Nelson, who serves as a liaison and volunteer with the organizing associations. “One parent shared that the reason her daughter plays hockey today is because she attended our first annual World Girls event three years ago. It made me tear up that I have been a part of such an awesome event that helps grow our program and the love of the game for our girls. My girls have played hockey since they were in kindergarten, and the Nelson family couldn’t imagine our life being any different!”
40 girls and women between the age of 5 and 44 came to Latvia’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in Valmiera.
In the first part the girls went onto the ice for an hour-long session with fun exercises and help from members of the women’s national team. Later they witnessed a game between the women’s national team and the girls’ national team with LHF General Secretary Viesturs Koziols leading the award ceremony.
“All the girls were really excited and happy about the possibility to try this great sport, to skate side by side with girls from the national team, to see how the national team is playing, and to make sure that ice hockey is safe and suitable for girls as well. It was a possibility for the parents to receive useful and detailed information about the latest developments concerning girls’ hockey in Latvia,” said Inara Zvidre, the technical secretary of the women’s national team.
“In general this event served to promote the great game of ice hockey among girls not only in Riga but also in regional sport schools. The young girls received encouragement and inspiration from the national team’s players to work hard in future to become a part of this team someday. Everything is possible!”
Lithuania’s second-largest city Kaunas will host the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B. And also for the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend it was chosen to put ice hockey in the spotlight, this time at the ice rink of the Akropolis shopping mall. 14 female players and two coaches were joined 23 new girls on the ice.
After getting equipped the girls went onto the ice for a two-hour session that started with some information. Also the President of the association Hockey Lietuva was present and took his young daughter onto the ice.
There were three stations: ice skating for beginners, skating contest with balloons and ice hockey for beginners before coming together for a joint competition and giveaways and sweets.
“The kids were excited. They loved the time they spent on the ice. There were two, three girls who are really interested in hockey and we hope they will come and practise with the women’s hockey club,” said Egle Zemlickiene, the administrator and women’s hockey responsible. “We need more such events because it’s the best way to introduce hockey for girls and let them try it.”
Perched between Finland and Sweden, the island of Aland hosted the two women’s national teams. On Saturday they made the way free for a new generation at the World Girls’ Ice Hockey. Read our featured story from Mariehamn here.
The Dragons Utrecht hosted the first World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event in the Netherlands for this year and had 17 participants between 5 and 12 years old.
After getting on the equipment, the girls went through several stations on the ice: learn to skate (1-on-1), shooting at bottles, badminton on skates, shooting on a hockey goal with water bottles in it, small-area game, shooting on a goalie. Off the ice there were film and photo presentations, crafting a cardboard hockey player, information about ice hockey, drinks and girls only gadgets.
Women’s U14 national team coach Stefan Collard called it a good and well organized event and the Dragons Urecht plan to use the format more often to promote the club and ice hockey in the city.
44 girls came to the TelekomArena in Otopeni close to the Romanian capital of Bucharest in different groups: U8, U10, U12 and senior. Everybody met at the locker room and the older ones helped the youngest girls with the equipment. Then they played games on the ice in four groups.
“All the girls where super enthusiastic and where very committed. The parents where so happy and probably smiled the whole two-hour ice session. All the members where involved, and the feedback is very positive,” said George Pogacean, the head coach of the women’s national team and of the organizer, Triumf Bucharest.
“Hockey for girls is one of the club’s important areas so we need to focus and be involved every single day, hour and year. This event was a real success in our hockey community. A day dedicated to girls’ hockey is a step forward for us as a young nation in women’s hockey and all girls responded with a lot of smiles.”
The new IGLOO ice rink in Granada also joined the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend after successfully promoting ice hockey and women’s ice hockey in particular by hosting the 2017 IIHF Women’s Goaltending Development Camp this past July.
“Thanks to the IIHF for the camp. It was good promotion and now we have a lot of girls playing hockey today,” said Steven Gonzalez after the session in the afternoon.
In the evening there will be a premier with the first ever women’s ice hockey game in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia between women’s from the city’s clubs Granada Grizzlies and Eagles Granada.
Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia hosted this year’s World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend in the brand-new Malaysia National Ice Skating Stadium (MYNISS) and the Empire City mall outside of Kuala Lumpur. There were 65 girls who participated on the first session on Saturday afternoon and were between 3 and 25 years old. Mostly it was local Malaysians but there were also few expats from Canada and Sweden.
Hilda Zamri, the Team Manager of the women’s national team, welcomed the girls together with her team, the coaching staff and also members of the men’s national team. One part consisted of dry-land activities such as floorball, puck tricks and shooting. On the ice the girls learned basic skills. Pastries from the team members and a photo booth were also there to raise funds for the women’s national team.
“The participants were happy that they could try out ice hockey for the first time. They are eager to return the following day and to take up ice hockey lessons,” Zamri said. “The parents are eager to register their children in the hockey academy, which takes place every Friday at 9:00pm at MYNISS.
“The most important impact that the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekends crate is the awareness on the existence of ice hockey in Malaysia and the Southeast Asian region. The sport is growing and we will see more girls interested to take up ice hockey as a sport. With more girls joining the Malaysia Ice Hockey Federation, it will encourage more girls’ clubs to create competitions; and subsequently, more options to select for national players.”
The event has grown a lot. Malaysia has been part of the global initiative since its start in 2011. Usually 20 to 40 girls came, this time it was a record number of 65. “The 29th Southeast Asia Games in Malaysia this year included ice hockey as a sport for the first time. This has allowed more publicity on ice hockey in the country.”
Photo: David Jong
Chinese Taipei: Taipei City
70 girls and young ladies between the age of 7 and 20 came to the Taipei Arena following the “Come and have fun!” slogan despite the early ice session at 7:30 in the morning. Those he were totally new to ice hockey borrowed skates and sticks from the national team members who were helping. They learned to skate on a small field of play and played several games like trying to move the puck into a circle or in a bowling-like setup. On the other side girls with some experience went through some hockey drills before all participants were mixed into two teams to play against each other.
“People were very happy to get on the ice. For us ice time is very expensive in our country but we made the program for free. For many of them, it was the first time they got on ice. Beginners did not just skate, they actually played games and that made the event even more fun,” said Jaeyu Huang, International Event Supervisor of the Chinese Taipei Ice Hockey Federation. The organization just finished the Taipei Cup tournament and had teams from Bangkok, Thailand, from which some girls stayed and joined the event as well. “We were glad to make this event more internationalized, and everyone wore a smile from the beginning to the end.”
“It created their first experience to get on ice. It also helped to bring our women’s national team to work together. As they have been playing together, the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend provided a chance for them to serve together for the community, which facilitated the team chemistry for sure.”
One of the first events took place in the land of the rising sun. Mikage on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido hosted a World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend event. 40 young players of the next generation between 9 and 14 years of age joined in and had fun with the coaches and three Olympians, Kanae Aoki, Azusa Ishimori (Nakaoku) and Tomoe Yamane.
The program was not only about getting some ice time but also to hear from the coach and the Olympians about dreams and the experiences of the Olympians.
“The participants were excited and enjoyed playing with Olympians, having on and off-ice activities and they studied especially focusing on how to control the mental part to the game for female players,” said Toshi Takahashi of the Japan Ice Hockey Federation.