If your little girl has been thinking about trying hockey, this weekend is the perfect one to give it a go. Saturday marks the first ever Hockey Alberta Day, and Grande Prairie is the main host of the free event at both the Coca Cola Centre and the Eastlink Centre.
Its focus is on showcasing female hockey through skills clinics, seminars and a three-on-three tournament, as well as an Alberta Female Hockey League game. Regional consultant for the northwest Blake Cosgrove says they’re hoping to attract more girls to the sport.
“We see maybe not the numbers we’d like to see. A lot of the focus, I think at times, has been on the male side of the game and we’d like to see it grow on the female side and I think this is a way to help start that and help promote female hockey not only in our zone but in our province as well.”
Up until the spring of 2016, the Peace Country had a midget AAA female hockey team, but Hockey Alberta reconfigured the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League so that there are only six franchises. Grande Prairie wasn’t picked. Instead, the city now has a midget elite and a bantam elite team.
Saturday’s activities at the Coke Centre will kick off with skills clinics put on by Quantam Speed out of Edmonton with the help of two-time Olympic gold medallist and former Team Alberta player and coach Carla MacLeod. Hockey Alberta manager of female hockey Kendall Newell hopes she’ll inspire young women around the region as she spends the day in the city.
“Girls can see what hockey can do for you and where it can take you and that just sparks some excitement for them. It doesn’t matter if you’re from High Level, Grande Prairie, or anywhere north, you can make a name for yourself if you work hard and you’re dedicated to something you’re passionate in.”
For those newer to the good old hockey game, a Try Hockey session will be held from 12:45 to 1:45, followed by a chance to try sledge hockey. Tara Chisholm from the Canadian National Sledge Team will be leading that event, and Cosgrove says its a fun and worthwhile one to give a whirl.
“It’s an exciting sport and it’s really tough. It’s just a totally different way to play hockey on the ice when you’re in the sledge and working with the two sticks and different edges.”
Saturday afternoon and evening will be rounded out by a peewee female game, a game between the local bantam elite team and an Edmonton squad, and a game between the midget elite team and alumni. Throughout the day there will also be seminars on development and opportunities in officiating, female hockey as a sport, and coaching female athletes.
Off the ice, athletes and families can also take part in Be Fit For Life sessions at the Eastlink Centre, try their hand at indoor golf, and shoot the puck in floor hockey.
A full schedule can be found on Hockey Alberta’s website. All activities are free.