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WMC home to girls tuning up their skills for coming hockey season

Jamie MacDonald controls the puck behind the EDSS goal during the tense final minutes of the Lancers’ 2-1 victory over Waterloo Oxford District Secondary School Feb. 9 at the WMC. [Scott Barber / The Observer]

Thoughts of chilly nights spent at the arena are likely far from most people’s minds, but not for the dedicated hockey addicts of the Woolwich Hockey Academy.

Hannah Weber waits for her turn to do a drill at Woolwich Hockey Academy’s evening girls’ hockey camp at the WMC in Elmira.[Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Hannah Weber waits for her turn to do a drill at Woolwich Hockey Academy’s evening girls’ hockey camp at the WMC in Elmira. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
This week hockey players of all ages came out to different camps to dust off the rust and prepare for the upcoming season.

Tony Code, head instructor, was at the Woolwich Memorial Centre working with a group of Bantam/Midget girls at a day camp and an evening camp.

For the evening camp the girls were put through 80 minutes of on-ice work, followed by an hour of off-ice conditioning training.

“At night we do a rotation for all the power skating skills and then we do a rotation for hockey skills, overall hockey skills with the pucks and checking and how to protect the puck and shooting,” Code said.

After that they scrimmage. There are about 15 players at the camp.

“It’s nice to see for me the girls that are the older ones at my day camp who have been doing it all along. And now there’s a good group of young ones.”

He said one of the challenges the girls face is being too nice on the ice. Code runs the same drills with boys and they’re always looking for ways to get ahead of their opponents, while the girls will often let it go. Despite this, Code says the girls are learning to be more aggressive.

“It’s getting more similar and the younger they play they’re integrated into camps, and they’re catching on all the same,” Code said. “They have a great skill set.”

He said some of his best players are girls from the day camp. That’s pretty impressive when compared to “high end” boys who play Triple A that Code also works with.

According to Code, girls hockey has been growing in Woolwich, at the expense of ringette.

“There’s so many great elements in ringette but everyone seems to be moving to hockey because there’s more kids into it, there’s more ice time available. There’s so much more around it.”

He said there’s a good following for girls hockey around the region, but they have to chase around to find good hockey.

There were also Tyke/Novice, Atom, PeeWee, and boys Bantam/Midget camps this week run by the academy. Code has been playing and coaching the sport for 30 years, including coaching the Waterloo Wolves Major PeeWee AAA team last year, the Major Novice, Minor Atom Rep A and Major Atom Rep AA, and Minor PeeWee Rep AA in Woolwich from 2010 to 2013. He also  worked as an instructor in Kalamazoo, Michigan at the KOHA Hockey School.

“I got asked to do something for the girls last year and I basically said show your interest and that was on a Friday,” Code said. “By Sunday I had 12 girls by word of mouth. It’s important to make sure they have an outlet, especially when you have a facility like this. To not have something geared towards strictly girls, that’s a miss. It’s so important to have.”

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