Local hockey players hit the ice with the Jr. A Pontiacs to celebrate and inspire girls in the sport.
Female players representing teams from novice to midget joined the Pontiacs on ice prior to their Friday night game to commemorate World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend, which ran Oct. 5 to 7.
“The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), in partnership with Hockey Canada, celebrates World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend,” explained Robb Hunter, director of business operations for the Pontiacs. “There was events happening all across the world in 42 different countries, and hundreds of thousands of girls participated in different events. We wanted to participate here as well.”
World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend was originally organized to celebrate girls who have taken up the sport in Canada. The idea quickly expanded across the globe during the eight years it has been commemorated.
Coach of the Atom Jaguars Dale Fleming said there were girls from all over the Lakeland who participated in the ceremony with the Pontiacs.
“What they’re doing here, I think, is special. They’re showing everybody that they play high level hockey, but hockey really is for everybody,” he expressed.
Attending the Pontiacs game was the highlight of weekend for the girls, as their season hadn’t started yet.
Atom Jaguar player Emily Dodman had a mix of nerves and excitement before heading out on the ice in front of the crowd.
“There’s not a lot of people that have our opportunity to choose what (sport) they want to do,” she said.
Shining the spotlight on local girls’ teams let people know there’s an interest, which hockey player Cooper Fleming believes is important to get the word out about.
“There’s not that many girls who want to play hockey. I think, just because we’re girls, and not a lot of girls have the choice to play hockey, that’s we wanted to,” she noted, adding that sometimes it boils down to girls not being confident enough in their ability to play a sport traditionally dominated by males.
“A long time ago, (girls) didn’t get a chance to choose what they wanted to do, and sometimes they still don’t. It’s just fair that we can play the same sports that boys do, too.”
At the end of the day, events like this remind everyone hockey is a sport that encompasses all ages, genders, and abilities.
“It’s a great sport that everyone enjoys playing, whether they play on an all girls teams or play with the boys. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to get out, get some exercise, and play the greatest sport in the world,” Hunter expressed.