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A chance for Woolwich girls to try their hands at hockey

A successful year for the Woolwich Girls Minor Hockey Association teams may have sparked some interest in the sport for local girls, and the annual Come and Try Girls Hockey event would be the perfect venue to see what it’s all about.

Olivia Weiss, Peyton Gaudet and Kylie Rayfield will be moving up to the Novice level next season, as part of the Woolwich Girls Minor Hockey Association, which is holding a Come and Try Girls Hockey event on Apr. 18.[Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Olivia Weiss, Peyton Gaudet and Kylie Rayfield will be moving up to the Novice level next season, as part of the Woolwich Girls Minor Hockey Association, which is holding a Come and Try Girls Hockey event on Apr. 18. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Now in its fifth year, Woolwich Wild scheduler Jacinta Faries says the idea is to let newcomers try hockey for free with girls and coaches who’ve loved the sport for years.

“It’s been pretty successful in the past,” Faries said. “We’ve had a fair number of girls come out and quite a few of them have ended up signing up with girls hockey. It gives them a chance to try it out. It also gives the parents a chance to ask questions. We always have executive members there that can respond to any questions they might have.”

They had about 20 participants come out to try it last year, which she says is fairly consistent, except for the first year. A rookie coach and the coach for Atom and PeeWee will be on hand to help the girls learn the basics. They’ll do some skating and hockey drills that they’d normally do in a practice and end with a mini-scrimmage.

“Especially for the younger ones, some of them need some help if they’re not that strong a skater,” Faries said. “It gives a sense of what it’s like to play in a game. Even for the younger ones they like that. A lot of the time just the excitement of actually having a stick in your hand and a puck they can hit on the ice, they like that.”

Girls are asked to bring skates, a CSA-approved helmet with facemask, gloves and a stick, but if not they can likely be provided. Some equipment is usually donated for the event. But ideally, girls should have their own skates, which are harder to fit.

One question that comes up quite a bit from parents is the difference between girls’ and boys’ hockey. Once they learn there’s no body checking in girls’ hockey, they’re relieved. Some have questions about equipment, practice times, and game times, which members of the executive will be on hand to answer.

The event started because coaches kept hearing of girls interested in giving the sport a try.

“We actually had a lot of requests from parents of some of the younger girls, they had friends that wanted to try hockey and could they bring their friends out to a practice,” Faries said. “The first year was amazing. We had about 60 girls come out. I think there was the untapped potential of people who just hadn’t tried it.”

She says this event is helpful because kids often are interested in trying lots of different sport and activities, but once they give it a shot they might not like it and want to play all season. For others, it helps them nail down which sports they’d like to stick with.

“It’s kind of nice because you see a lot of the little ones come off the ice just beaming,” Faries said. “The parents are saying ‘oh yeah we’re signing up.’ It’s nice to see it kind of firmed it up for the parents and the child as well.”

The event runs April 18 at 2 p.m. at the WMC and is free for girls from four to 12. For more information or to request equipment contact Faries at jfaries@rogers.com or 519-669-8625.

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