Plenty to cheer about as women’s hockey returns

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The first Senior B women’s team on the ice in Woolwich in 25 years, the women won their pool, and will be hosting the Stratford Aces on Mar. 19 for the final round of SOWHL playoffs. They team is also heading to Toronto in April to compete in a provincial tournament. [Submitted]
Not just back, but right back in the thick of things as women’s hockey returned to the township after a 25-year absence. In its inaugural season, the Woolwich Wild Senior B team won its pool in the Southwestern Ontario Women’s Hockey League.

The women have also qualified for the provincial championships next month in Toronto.

Before they head to the big city to compete against the rest of Ontario’s best, the team will be hosting the Stratford Aces for the final round of the SOWHL playdowns on Mar. 19 in St. Jacobs.

Head coach Doug Woodburn says he couldn’t have asked for a better result for the first Woolwich-based Senior B women’s team in the better part of three decades.

“It has been an interesting experience. The team has been far more competitive that anyone expected,” he said. “We really didn’t know how things would go at the start.”

The team is made up of a large number of younger players, with around 20 per cent of the 18-year-olds in the league, and some of the women have played together before.

The team dynamics definitely lent to their success.

“I think what I have been most impressed with is just how much of a solid group of young ladies we have here. They all get along, the team chemistry is great. The hockey IQ has been off the charts. They are really committed, they know the game, they are able to adapt and I think that is why they have been so competitive,” said Woodburn.

Heading into the SOWHL finals on Mar. 19, Woodburn says the players have to get their game face on, but he is hoping for a win for the Wild.

“Stratford has won the league for the last couple of years, so I don’t think it is a matter of having to prepare for anything, I think we just have to play our game,” he said. “We have been relatively successful against them. We match up well, but they will be bringing their best lineup. So, it really should be an entertaining series. I think it will be very competitive.”

The team was formed last summer after the league listened to the pleas of Woolwich women who wanted to play hockey. Prior to the 2016-2017 season, there wasn’t an option for women who wanted to play competitive hockey after high school-age.

The Woolwich Wild had a huge response to the call for players, as 36 women showed up to try out for the 20 spots on the final roster.

The puck drops at the St. Jacobs arena at 6 p.m. on Mar. 19. Spectators are welcome to come and cheer on the Senior B women.