There will be no Midget Female AAA Storm in the region next season. Hockey Alberta has restructured to have only six communities with franchises, and the Peace region isn’t one of them. Head Coach and Peace Country Female Athletic Club President Koen Ryden understands that the decision came from complaints the talent in the league was “watered down”, but feels the region was the wrong one to cut.
“We’ve had competitive teams in this part of the province now for as long as I can remember. The teams consistently made playoffs; they’ve consistently been second round playoffs and a couple years we’ve gone deeper. 75 per cent of our graduating players are going on to play post-secondary hockey. That’s an opportunity that these players deserve.”
The six communities selected for Midget AAA franchises are Calgary, Edmonton, Lloydminster, Okotoks, Red Deer and St. Albert, meaning the PAC Saints, the Sherwood Park Fury and the Rocky Mountain Raiders have also been cut. The decision comes after three years of work done by a committee, which felt roughly 10 per cent of all female hockey players in Alberta should be playing at the Midget AAA level.
Another 20 per cent should be playing at the Midget and Bantam Elite levels, and Hockey Alberta has proposed that Grande Prairie instead be part of a new Elite League with AA teams. Ryden says it’s “extremely insulting” they don’t see the talent that comes out of the region.
“The bottom line is it reduces the opportunities for our girls in the north to participate on an elite AAA team, having to make that trip to Edmonton should they decide to make that move. It’s not fair to our kids and it’s not fair to our region.”
Ryden says they’ll be fighting the decision not to include the Peace in the new female hockey model, and have even been in touch with legal counsel. He adds it’s ironic that they’re hosting provincials in March with other ousted teams making the trip.