The International Ice Hockey Federation’s first World Girls’ Hockey Day is in the books, and those that turned out at Oceanside Place on Sunday saw the evolution of the game at the grassroots level.
In action as the featured game of the day, the Mid-Island Blackhawks skated to a free-wheeling 4-2 win over the Island Pacific Phantoms in Sr. A Women’s action.
Sunday was the ‘Hawks’ second game of the season. The Parksville-based squad kickstarted their 2011/2012 campaign the day before at Oceanside Place with a 6-1 win over the Nanaimo Islanders.
Christina Sharun, 24, who played four years of Ivy League hockey at Yale University, led the charge for the ‘Hawks with a hat trick in both games. Second year forward, former UBC standout Kristie Keller, assisted on all six.
Rookie ‘tender Jillian Hampshire backstopped the locals both games for her first two wins as a Blackhawk.
“We always have good games — were very evenly matched,” coach Phil Jordan said of the Phantoms.”
Dom Di Rocco, another former UBC player, got her first goal as a Blackhawk against the Phantoms.
Asked how the girls like the role of role models on the ice, if World Girls’ Hockey Day was on their minds, and, Phil said his players were fired up to be part of the featured game.
On this day it was no surprise that Phil’s daughter, Marissa, who helped form the team with her dad and wears the C, looked sharp in her return, going hard to the net and leading by example. Marissa, 21, was a trailblazer for girls hockey in these parts — she started playing with OMHA when she was eight.
Phil and Marissa formed the team so that those women in these parts who have played the game for years, many of them trailblazers themselves back in the day, could continue their playing careers.
This is year three for the Blackhawks, and while the team improved leaps and bounds during its first two seasons competing in the South Coast Female Amateur Hockey League, the Blackhawks have bowed out this year because of numbers and the travel schedule.
“It was a huge learning curve,” surmised coach Phil. “Competing in the (SCFAHL) really put forth what calibre that league is — it’s a very strong league with some very talented women, and we have talented women on our team too — we just can’t make the travel commitment at this point, so we’ll be playing all exhibition games this season.”
Phil’s still checking into it but he says a run at a Provincial Sr A Women’s title isn’t out of the question.
In the meantime, “everybody glad to be back and eager to play. It’s a building year, and we’re only going to get better.”
The Blackhawks had six forwards and five defence-women on the weekend, and Phil made the point the team is always looking for new recruits (for info. e-mail coach Phil at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Asked her take on the weekend and Oceanside Minor Hockey’s female co-ordinator and dedicated volunteer Sue Street, who organized the local tribute to female hockey, said, “it was a great day to celebrate female hockey. From Jessica Kelly starting the day off with her wonderful voice singing O Canada to open the game — to the speaker’s hot stove and refreshments after the game — not to mention the wonderful game play (and win for the Blackhawks) … it was a fantastic day,” she said, adding the speakers were excellent, and offered some wonderful, interactive conversation with the small crowd that gathered upstairs for the talks after the game.
It was, she said, “a great way to acknowledge how far female hockey has come over the past decade,” adding next year they are hoping to add an ‘on ice’ component to the celebrations as well, “and we look forward to making the event bigger and better.”