The Tri-Port showed that it is definitely a hotbed for female hockey and then some.
With the number of female minor hockey players on the rise (Tri-Port Minor Hockey will be offering three all-female divisions this season — Intro Girls, Peewee, and Midget) comes more exciting opportunities for the youth to learn to play the game they love.
The weekend featured two different female minor hockey events, the annual Esso Fun Day (where young girls tried out hockey for free to see if they liked it), and olympic gold medalist Brianne Jenner’s Future Stars Girls Ice Hockey Camp, which was held Aug. 24-25 at the Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill.
Jenner, who won gold in 2014 with Team Canada in Sochi, flew in to town on Thursday night and hit the arena early Friday morning, where she spent four hours total coaching on-ice.
Saturday was the same schedule, with Jenner stating in a brief interview in-between the two hour practices that she found the local youth to be “really enthusiastic, really coachable, and they’re having fun and learning a lot as we go here.”
When asked how the talent level compares to other areas she has held camps at, Jenner replied that while the North Island doesn’t have the same amount of players that larger places do, “the girls that we do have here are great hockey players and really improving … the difference from when we started to our third practice here today — it’s really great to see the improvement.”
All told, the camp consisted of eight hours total on-ice training with Jenner, where they spent most of the time practicing “skating, crossovers, puck handling, and really just working on the foundational skills.”
Jenner added she loved visiting the North Island, stating it’s “a beautiful place to be, and I’m really excited that hockey has brought me out here.”
As for what she thinks of the growth of female hockey in general, she noted she thinks its been “the fastest growing sport in the country now for a number of years. To see the growth in the number of islanders playing hockey now, especially on the girls side — all across the country the numbers are growing at a pretty fast rate. It’s really exciting to see and obviously an exciting thing for women’s hockey.”
Tri-Port Minor Hockey Female Coordinator Lisa Brown said she was thrilled to have Jenner come and coach the local youth. “She’s such a great role model for female hockey — she plays on Team Canada, she’s a Nike athlete, she’s very driven — so for our girls to get the opportunity to work with a female athlete of that calibre, it really grows their passion for the game and gives them a sense of how far they can go in hockey if they have the interest.”
Brown agreed with Jenner’s assessment on the growth of the sport in Canada, noting that “Specifically here on the North Island, our numbers have more than doubled over the last few years — we get great community support, and it’s because we have a female hockey program that is focused on recruitment and trying to provide an opportunity for those that want to play all-girl hockey.”
Brown then pointed out that it doesn’t matter whether girls play co-ed hockey, all-female, or try out for the local rep teams, stating she’s just happy with girls playing in general, because “the end goal is just to simply get girls playing hockey on the North Island.”