For the first time in 25 years, the Woolwich Girls Minor Hockey Association is putting a senior team on the ice.
The move came in response to players letting the association know they wanted to keep going after aging out of the teams already available.
Coach Doug Woodburn says there was a huge number of women looking to lace up their skates and play some hockey.
“As more girls play competitive sports into their adulthood, there is now the critical mass of players in the area that have come through the WGMHA in support of the creation of a women’s competitive hockey team,” he said, adding that women would previously have had to leave the township to play hockey with others their own age.
“What we did not realize is that this program captured the imagination and interest of a number of women who have settled in the Woolwich area. These are players that would have played in other centres as kids, and have now come to this area for school or work. There also appears to have been an untapped interest of new and existing residents wanting the option to play competitive hockey locally.”
The team held its tryouts at the end of last month, and they had nearly twice as many skaters as spots on the team.
“Thirty-six players decided to participate in tryouts for the 20 available spots. Given the level of interest and the expectation of a growing player pool, plans have begun to explore creating a second team for next season,” he said. “To accommodate the interest, tryouts consisted of three regulation hockey games. The level of competition was intense, and the roster selection process was more difficult than the coaching staff expected.”
The team will be competing in the Southern Ontario Women’s Hockey League (SOWHL) along with about 30 other teams of women of the same age.
The regular season starts on Oct. 1, and will run over the winter until playoffs in the spring. Woodburn wants to thank the players, volunteers and association staff for getting together to make the team happen.
“A lot goes into establishing a new program. Securing ice time, scheduling referees, finding volunteers to handle off-ice game officiating, coaching, training and equipment to name a few. The program would not be possible without the association’s support and vision and the many volunteers who give of their time to make this a reality,” he said.
To watch the Woolwich Wild senior women’s team go up against teams from around southern Ontario, head to the St. Jacobs arena on Sunday nights at 6 p.m.
To see a team schedule, visit their website at www.woolwichwild.com.