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Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador forms its first female hockey council

Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador has formed its first female hockey council, and it’s being viewed as a victory in the development of female hockey in this province.
Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador has formed its first female hockey council, and it’s being viewed as a victory in the development of female hockey in this province. - FILE

Formation of the first-ever female hockey council under the umbrella of Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL) is being viewed as a big victory for people immersed in trying to develop programs for young girls interested in playing the game.

Bonnie Knott of Rocky Harbour, the western director for the new female council in the province, said she’s excited about the future of the game with female hockey being recognized as a valuable player like the other councils that operate under HNL.

“All the other councils are finally recognizing that the female program is growing and they need the opportunity to set their own course as well,” Knott said.

Knott was proud to see a female council approved at the annual general meeting of Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador earlier this month. She says the female game is growing fast with over 2,000 players registered in the province this past year and she expects the numbers to rise with a bigger say in how the game is grown moving forward.

She said it will be nice to have a handful of voices around the table who can work for changes that will make the game even more attractive to young girls and be on an even keel with the other councils that chart the course for hockey every year.

“We can govern our own program,” she said.

Deer Lake minor hockey female hockey representative Trina Russell is excited about the future of the female game more so than ever after hearing the news. Her 13-year-old daughter Mackenzie will be playing in the Deer Lake female program in the Under-15 age bracket this season and she believes the numbers will grow with female hockey representatives having more say in what happens.

“Now we feel we have the same respect and autonomy as the other governing authorities,” Russell said.

She’s excited to see that people involved in the other divisions like minor and senior fully supported the idea of a first-ever female council. She believes the recognition by the other people in the room bodes well for the future of the game when it comes to females coming into the sport and sticking with it.

“We feel the love and respect for sure, so that’s great,” Russell said.

Russell said her association will continue to promote female hockey with hopes that younger girls will find their way to the rink and find out they love playing the game.

“Those females are out there,” she said. “HNL has had hockey camps across Newfoundland for all female players and the numbers have been amazing. So, we need to continue to recruit them and we need to get them to stay in the program.

Knott said one of her biggest goals in her new position is building some female hockey programs in western Newfoundland that will cater to the Under-9 age group, which encompasses players in the Novice and Initiation divisions. There are strong female programs in place on the west coast in the U-20, U-15 and U-12 age brackets, but there are a lot of young girls who are potential prospects so female hockey organizers want to see if they can get them to join their friends on the ice.

She also pointed out that there will be AAA and AA peewee program put in place in western Newfoundland this year because the numbers are pretty high in the U-12 age group and organizers don’t want to deter the girls who don’t make the AAA program so they made it possible for them to play AA to further develop their skill in a competitive environment.

“That’s where we need to build to keep this program going in the future,” Knott said.

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