Girls’ game trives

Cee­Bees, Trin­ity-Pla­cen­tia hockey pro­grams boast im­pres­sive num­bers

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Par­tic­i­pa­tion in fe­male hockey pro­grams in the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia area is fairly strong at the mo­ment. The Cee­Bees pro­gram in Har­bour Grace is lead­ing the way with 50 regis­tered play­ers.

It is just a nor­mal mid-De­cem­ber night at the S.W. Moores Memo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace.

Close to two-dozen hockey play­ers are in­volved in an on-ice ses­sion. Led by a cadre of coaches, the young ath­letes go through the usual hockey drills. They do one-on-ones, twoon-ones, skate the lines and prac­tice their shots.

Us­ing the full ice, coaches work with play­ers on the finer points of pass­ing the puck, bal­anc­ing on their edges and other in­tri­ca­cies.

Ev­ery player on the ice is fe­male. It’s not that fe­male hockey play­ers are un­usual; see­ing them in a large num­ber dur­ing prac­tice is.

Some as­so­ci­a­tions strug­gle to at­tract enough to prac­tice at both ends of the rink. But not in Har­bour Grace. The Cee­Bees Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion has some 50 fe­male hockey play­ers regis­tered for this sea­son.

As­so­ci­a­tions in Bay Roberts and Whit­bourne have pro­duced cham­pi­onship teams at var­i­ous lev­els, but reg­is­tra­tion num­bers vary. Whit­bourne has some 40 regis­tered fe­male play­ers this sea­son, while the Bay Arena as­so­ci­a­tion fea­tures close to 20 fe­male play­ers.

In Har­bour Grace, the Cee­Bees can ice a full com­ple­ment of un­der12 play­ers, as well as a full roster at the un­der-15 level — with some to spare. There are also a num­ber of play­ers in the un­der-9 cat­e­gory and sev­eral at the un­der-20 level.

“I think it’s great,” said Cee­Bees’ ex­ec­u­tive pres­i­dent Wendy Penney.

Over the past cou­ple of years, the Cee­Bees fe­male pro­gram has ex­panded and found suc­cess at the provin­cial level. It won a gold medal (un­der-12) and sil­ver medal (un­der15) at the end of last sea­son.

This sea­son, the un­der-12 squad al­ready has a tour­na­ment win un­der its belt.

Pro­mo­tion helps

There is no se­cret for­mula for the suc­cess of fe­male hockey in Har­bour Grace.

The as­so­ci­a­tion has a fully func­tion­ing fe­male house league and is con­stantly en­cour­ag­ing more young play­ers to throw on a pair of skates through reg­u­lar open skates.

Mean­while, play­ers in Whit­bourne travel to St. John’s a cou­ple times a week for games.

“They get a lot of hockey,” said Trin­ity-Pla­cen­tia Mi­nor Hockey pres­i­dent Eric Clarke. “They’re play­ing dif­fer­ent teams and get­ting a dif­fer­ent cal­ibur of hockey.”

There are also the yearly Esso Fun Days, which are slowly catch­ing on.

“We’ve spent a lot of time pro­mot­ing the game,” said Penney.

Find­ing them a game

Fe­male hockey in this prov­ince op­er­ates with a unique or­ga­ni­za­tional struc­ture. Play­ers are di­vided into cat­e­gories for un­der-12, 15 and 20.

Teams can only carry a maxi- mum of 19 play­ers, and it is rare for the sport’s gov­ern­ing body in the prov­ince to al­low them to carry ex­tra play­ers.

This could leave some skaters with no games all win­ter. Of­ten, as­so­ci­a­tions will re­lease play­ers so they can play with another team for the year. This is true when it comes to the Cee­Bees and the Bay Arena un­der-20 play­ers.

“We will al­ways help them find a game,” said Penney.

Some­times, that can be a prob­lem. For ex­am­ple, the process might start too late and re­sult in play­ers miss­ing out on op­por­tu­ni­ties else­where.

Penney has meet­ings lined up with reps from Whit­bourne and the Bay Arena in an ef­fort to find a way to ex­pe­dite the process. Bay Arena Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Scott Cros­bie thinks the re­gional ap­proach can help push the fe­male game even fur­ther in the fu­ture.

“Con­tin­ued in­ter­gra­tion is vi­tal for the game to go even fur­ther and mak­ing sure the play­ers have ac­cess to high level coaches and games,” he said.

“The big­gest thing is get­ting teams for them to play against,” added Clarke.

One thing is cer­tain, how­ever. Fe­male hockey is at an all-time high in the re­gion and that has of­fi­cials smil­ing a bit wider th­ese days.

“I’m proud of how it is get­ting big­ger,” said Penney.

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

A trio of fe­male hockey play­ers — from left, Cam­ryn Tay­lor, Ally Cleary and Jen­nifer Pike — skate at a prac­tice held last month at S.W. Moores Memo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace.

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