The Oceanside Minor Hockey Association has female players playing at the AAA and AA levels. (Submitted photo)

The Oceanside Minor Hockey Association has female players playing at the AAA and AA levels. (Submitted photo)

Oceanside Minor Hockey Association celebrates World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend

Parksville Qualicum Beach players excel at variety of levels

Female hockey has grown exponentially in Canada over the last three decades. According to Hockey Canada, female registration in minor hockey increased more than 400 per cent from 1990, when Canada won the inaugural IIHF World Women’s Championship over the USA.

Today, IIHF reports that there are close to 90,000 Canadian women and girls registered in hockey.

Parksville Qualicum Beach can boast of its own contributions to women’s hockey. This community currently has a player playing at a AAA level and five players playing at an A level.

As well, the Oceanside Minor Hockey Association is thrilled to be hosting a U11 female recreation team this year.

The weekend of Oct. 15-17 was World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. In celebration of that, the association sought to introduce some of the girls who are working hard to excel at one of Canada’s favourite sports.

Emily McKinnon, a Grade 11 student at Ballenas, plays U18 AAA for the Vancouver Island Seals, with a commitment that includes practices in Victoria and has already taken her to Manitoba for a tournament this year.

Another Ballenas student, Molly Price, is in her fourth year with the North Island Impact Female A program. She is an assistant captain with the U18A team this year and manages to juggle all the training and ice time with her school work while maintaining honour roll status.

In between the pipes for the U15A North Island Impact is Qualicum Beach’s Julianne Hendriks. A Grade 8 student at Kwalikum Secondary, Hendriks didn’t discover hockey until four years ago until she took advantage of a first-year, $99 player registration fee incentive at Oceanside Minor Hockey Association. With the support and encouragement of some of the many quality local coaches, Hendriks immediately found a passion for goaltending. She is in her second year with the Impact.

The U13A Impact team can claim three Parksville Qualicum Beach girls: Milea Howell, Lynden Dragani and Chantelle Hendriks.

Howell, a member of a fastball team that won gold at provincials this year, is a forward in her second year with the Impact. She is also an assistant captain on the team.

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Also in her second year, Dragani is a forward with the Impact who makes a huge impact. She is a feisty player who made the Impact team last year as an underage player.

Hendriks joined the U13A Impact this season. After three seasons in co-ed recreational hockey, she worked hard to make the jump to competitive female hockey and has taken up a position in the defensive lineup.

At a recreational level, OMHA is pleased to have a female U11 team this year. A lot of effort has gone into giving the girls a team to call their own, space on the ice to grow their skills together as a team as well as individuals. At last count, there were also 25 girls playing co-ed hockey with OMHA, either at a recreational or competitive level.

One of the objectives of World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend is to retain and engage female players. Unfortunately, a national study on sport participation by Canadian girls from ages six to 18, determined that one in three girls drop out of sports by their late teens, and that girls are three times more likely to drop out of their respective sports than their male counterparts.

Efforts are being made at all levels of Canadian hockey to remove the barriers that discourage young women from continuing in their sport.

The Oceanside Minor Hockey Association is asking the community to encourage and support our young female athletes. Playing or coaching, volunteering time, sponsoring, or coming out to cheer them on, the association indicated there is always room for more.

Please contact Kristin Hendriks, OMHA Female Coordinator, if you’d like to get involved in any way at kristinhendriks@gmail.com

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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