By Woodard, Dale on January 27, 2020.
This was a day at the rink for the girls.
It was also the first of its kind locally as the Female Hockey Day in Lethbridge, hosted by Hockey Alberta, took over the ATB Centre Saturday.
The event made its debut in southern Alberta, but the rest of the province showed up to participate.
“We had about 100 girls from all over the province show up at all age levels. We had some moms that were trying hockey and some girls that were trying hockey. It was a successful event,” said Chris Fantazir, Director of Female Hockey with the Lethbridge Minor Hockey Association. “This is the first time we’ve held it in Lethbridge. It has been held in different areas throughout the province, but this is the first time we’ve had it here. So it was a big deal for us to have it down here.”
The day featured on and off-ice development sessions for players, coaches, and parents to celebrate female hockey, and concluded with a trip to Nicholas Sheran Arena to watch the Canada West game between the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns and the Mount Royal Cougars with Hockey Alberta covering the ticket prices for the players.
“For the girls currently playing hockey, they had an on-ice session, a dryland session and a sports ambassador talk,” said Fantazir. “For the Try Hockey (program), we had some younger girls out trying and we had some moms come out and try as well. We had Calgary Sports Bank out to give them equipment.
“To help encourage more moms and females into coaching we had some coaching seminars going on. So it’s just trying to grow female hockey, not just players, but management and coaching as well.”
Locally, female hockey is on the rise.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth the last three years,” said Fantazir. “We’ve gone from three female teams to nine female teams, so we’ve tripled in three years. Our numbers have grown over the last three years and we’re starting to make some noise with female hockey here in the south with our Lethbridge Cyclones and our Elite program, the Southern Express.”
The feedback Saturday afternoon was the players and moms alike enjoyed the chance to participate in new clinics.
“They liked it,” said Fantazir. “A lot of the moms hadn’t taken a coaching clinic or experienced that. So they did basic coaching. It was just an understanding of the game, so we’re really happy they learned about that and hopefully it’ll encourage more moms to get into coaching.”
Meanwhile the goal is to continue building female hockey numbers locally.
“We’re seeing that growth, but we always want to grow more,” said Fantazir. “We would like to see two teams in each division and we have that in atom and peewee this year. But we would like to see that continue to grow and expand. The more kids we can get into female hockey, we’d also like to grow the younger ages. We now have a Future Olympian Program that is just for beginners. So if you don’t want to start playing games and travelling, it’s for five to nine-year-olds who just want to come out and skate weekly and hopefully they’ll pick up hockey.”
For further information visit http://www.lethbridgeminorhockey.com or visit the Lethbridge Cyclones Facebook page.
Lethbridge is also the host of peewee provincials starting March 26.
Fantazir said the LMHA will run another Try Hockey clinic at that event.
“We’ll be using the Future Olympian Program next year as well.”
On Sunday, the Cyclones Classic finished as the Lethbridge Atom Cyclones won silver, losing 6-3 to the Airdrie Lightning in the final.
Cashton No Runner scored twice and had an assist for the Cyclones, while Morgan Gage scored the other Lethbridge goal.
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