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Girls’ hockey rocks


I remember years ago, when our only daughter decided to switch from dancing to ice hockey, I was ecstatic. Maybe because she was breaking the female stereotype.

Maybe because we’re more of a hockey family than a dancing family. Maybe I just prefer to watch a good ol’ hockey game in a freezing rink rather than a more formal, albeit warmer, dance recital.

Female hockey did seem different than male hockey, which I had been around my whole life. If a girl went down on the ice, other girls — often from both teams — skated over to make sure the fallen player was all right. I asked my third son what he felt the major difference was between hockey for boys and hockey for girls.

“The main difference is (they) don’t hate each other,” he answered.

“Why do boys’ teams hate each other?” I asked.

“That’s how they’re wired,” he said.

“Hate or aggression?” I probed.

“Hate while you’re out there,” he said.

“What about the following season when the teams switch up?”

“Then you don’t hate them.”

So what happens when a girl plays with boys? Allison Batstone, goalkeeper for the Eastern Ice Breakers, provincial winners of AAA Bantam championship in Mobile earlier this month, says there’s no philosophical difference between girls’ and boys’ hockey.

“When I’m on the ice, there’s no friends (on the opposing team),” she says.

Of course, technically there is one difference between girls’ and boys’ hockey at this level: body checking. But while full-on checking warrants a penalty in girls’ hockey, these players have mastered the art of “incidental body contact,” which is allowed. As a result, girls’ hockey is not only fast-paced and highly competitive, it is a tough sport.

Alison started playing in 2010 when she was 10 years old. She plays in both boys’ checking and girls’ non-checking leagues. For her, the only real difference in the leagues has nothing to do with body contact but rather that girls’ hockey doesn’t get the same recognition as boys’ hockey. Fewer fans, fewer sponsors, less media coverage. Because of this, Allison’s AAA bantam Ice Breakers team has to fundraise for everything from jerseys on up.

I asked her what message she’d like to send to potential sponsors. She said sponsors shouldn’t look at it as funding girls’ hockey as opposed to boys’ hockey.

“It’s just funding hockey,” she says.

So how can girls’ hockey get the same sponsorship and publicity as boys’? I put this question to Rich Howie, host committee chair 2015 for the Atlantic Bantam Female Championship.  

“Female hockey is growing locally and nationally, but in order for this to continue, it’s important the program gains stronger support from the business community,” says Howie. “Female hockey … is not recognized (on) the same level as boys’ hockey. This limits opportunities and growth of our young female players.”

For 13 and 14-year-old female players like Allison, stronger sponsorship would mean less fundraising. Less fundraising would mean more time for school and other extracurricular activities when she moves up to midget, the final tier of rec hockey, next year. After that, if Allison continues playing between the pipes, she could end up playing net for a Canadian university or American college like Paradise player Sarah Davis, who played for the University of Minnesota and is on the Canadian women’s hockey team playing in the world championship in Sweden.

Howie believes there are many more benefits besides the skills learned on the ice.

“(Players) develop and build teamwork and leadership skills they need in order to succeed in life and their careers,” she said.

“I think if both the female bantam (13-14 years) and female midget (15-18 years) had similar corporate sponsorship (to boys’), the profile of female hockey would be much higher.”

Anyone interested in raising the profile of girl’s hockey — or in watching some of most exciting hockey players in Atlantic Canada — should check out the 2015 Atlantic Canadian AAA Bantam Female Championship tournament this weekend, April 2-5, at the new Double Ice Complex which opened in Paradise in October.

“This is what we’ve been looking forward to all year,” says Allison, whose team, the Eastern Icebreakers, earned their way to the Paradise tournament by winning the Newfoundland AAA Bantam championships at the end of February, with Alison getting a shut-out in the gold medal game.

As tournament host, this province can send a second team, so silver medallists the Western Warriors will also be in the tournament. The two teams from Newfoundland and Labrador will face the top female bantam teams from Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and New Brunswick.

Girls’ hockey rocks. See for yourself in Paradise this weekend.

FACTS

Attention, hockey fans

Who: approximately 125 of the best 13-14-year-old female hockey players in Atlantic Canada

What: 2015 Atlantic Canadian AAA Bantam Female Championship tournament

When: April 2-5

Where: Double Ice Complex, Paradise

How much: Tournament tickets $25; single game passes $5

TV: Bell Aliant Community One will stream the games live.

Susan Flanagan is a journalist who lives with a half dozen hockey players. This is her final column.

Twitter feedback

Marin Darmonkow writes: “… (I) have similar views for Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Pinterest, etc. This Christmas I decided to stop being a ‘social mediot’ — I haven’t been there at all, and I’m still fine. I realized that my presence in this world is for such a short period of time, that I have to cut off entirely my digital footstep, which I did — no regrets. The good thing? The world e-noise was reduced (by a) few megabytes…”

 

 

 

Maybe because we’re more of a hockey family than a dancing family. Maybe I just prefer to watch a good ol’ hockey game in a freezing rink rather than a more formal, albeit warmer, dance recital.

Female hockey did seem different than male hockey, which I had been around my whole life. If a girl went down on the ice, other girls — often from both teams — skated over to make sure the fallen player was all right. I asked my third son what he felt the major difference was between hockey for boys and hockey for girls.

“The main difference is (they) don’t hate each other,” he answered.

“Why do boys’ teams hate each other?” I asked.

“That’s how they’re wired,” he said.

“Hate or aggression?” I probed.

“Hate while you’re out there,” he said.

“What about the following season when the teams switch up?”

“Then you don’t hate them.”

So what happens when a girl plays with boys? Allison Batstone, goalkeeper for the Eastern Ice Breakers, provincial winners of AAA Bantam championship in Mobile earlier this month, says there’s no philosophical difference between girls’ and boys’ hockey.

“When I’m on the ice, there’s no friends (on the opposing team),” she says.

Of course, technically there is one difference between girls’ and boys’ hockey at this level: body checking. But while full-on checking warrants a penalty in girls’ hockey, these players have mastered the art of “incidental body contact,” which is allowed. As a result, girls’ hockey is not only fast-paced and highly competitive, it is a tough sport.

Alison started playing in 2010 when she was 10 years old. She plays in both boys’ checking and girls’ non-checking leagues. For her, the only real difference in the leagues has nothing to do with body contact but rather that girls’ hockey doesn’t get the same recognition as boys’ hockey. Fewer fans, fewer sponsors, less media coverage. Because of this, Allison’s AAA bantam Ice Breakers team has to fundraise for everything from jerseys on up.

I asked her what message she’d like to send to potential sponsors. She said sponsors shouldn’t look at it as funding girls’ hockey as opposed to boys’ hockey.

“It’s just funding hockey,” she says.

So how can girls’ hockey get the same sponsorship and publicity as boys’? I put this question to Rich Howie, host committee chair 2015 for the Atlantic Bantam Female Championship.  

“Female hockey is growing locally and nationally, but in order for this to continue, it’s important the program gains stronger support from the business community,” says Howie. “Female hockey … is not recognized (on) the same level as boys’ hockey. This limits opportunities and growth of our young female players.”

For 13 and 14-year-old female players like Allison, stronger sponsorship would mean less fundraising. Less fundraising would mean more time for school and other extracurricular activities when she moves up to midget, the final tier of rec hockey, next year. After that, if Allison continues playing between the pipes, she could end up playing net for a Canadian university or American college like Paradise player Sarah Davis, who played for the University of Minnesota and is on the Canadian women’s hockey team playing in the world championship in Sweden.

Howie believes there are many more benefits besides the skills learned on the ice.

“(Players) develop and build teamwork and leadership skills they need in order to succeed in life and their careers,” she said.

“I think if both the female bantam (13-14 years) and female midget (15-18 years) had similar corporate sponsorship (to boys’), the profile of female hockey would be much higher.”

Anyone interested in raising the profile of girl’s hockey — or in watching some of most exciting hockey players in Atlantic Canada — should check out the 2015 Atlantic Canadian AAA Bantam Female Championship tournament this weekend, April 2-5, at the new Double Ice Complex which opened in Paradise in October.

“This is what we’ve been looking forward to all year,” says Allison, whose team, the Eastern Icebreakers, earned their way to the Paradise tournament by winning the Newfoundland AAA Bantam championships at the end of February, with Alison getting a shut-out in the gold medal game.

As tournament host, this province can send a second team, so silver medallists the Western Warriors will also be in the tournament. The two teams from Newfoundland and Labrador will face the top female bantam teams from Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and New Brunswick.

Girls’ hockey rocks. See for yourself in Paradise this weekend.

FACTS

Attention, hockey fans

Who: approximately 125 of the best 13-14-year-old female hockey players in Atlantic Canada

What: 2015 Atlantic Canadian AAA Bantam Female Championship tournament

When: April 2-5

Where: Double Ice Complex, Paradise

How much: Tournament tickets $25; single game passes $5

TV: Bell Aliant Community One will stream the games live.

Susan Flanagan is a journalist who lives with a half dozen hockey players. This is her final column.

Twitter feedback

Marin Darmonkow writes: “… (I) have similar views for Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Pinterest, etc. This Christmas I decided to stop being a ‘social mediot’ — I haven’t been there at all, and I’m still fine. I realized that my presence in this world is for such a short period of time, that I have to cut off entirely my digital footstep, which I did — no regrets. The good thing? The world e-noise was reduced (by a) few megabytes…”

 

 

 

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