Ducks, THE RINKS host Girls Try Hockey for Free events
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Back on Oct. 5, and again on Oct. 12, the Anaheim Ducks and THE RINKS, in conjunction with USA Hockey, hosted Girls Try Hockey for Free events at Great Park Ice & FivePoint Arena and at The Rinks-Huntington Beach Inline.
Over the course of the two events, 65 girls aged 4-12, all new to the game, were outfitted with equipment and taught the basics of ice and inline hockey from THE RINKS coaching staff and a few special guests.
At Great Park Ice, participating girls were joined on the ice by 12U and 14U Anaheim Lady Ducks players and special guest coach, Annie Pankowski of the U.S. Women’s National Team. During the hour-long session, participants took part in skating, stickhandling and shooting drills, and even a few scrimmage games.
“It’s always great to run this day and to have the support of USA Hockey behind us,” Lady Ducks director Kathy McGarrigle said. “They may be first-timers, but you can see the impact these events have on their decision to continue with hockey and have had on the growth of girls hockey. Just look at our volunteers. So many of our Lady Ducks players who come back to help at Girls Try Hockey do so because this is where they started, this is where they fell in love with the game.
“To have Annie back to help as well, to show all players involved how far they can go in the game, that really is something special.”
Pankowski – a three-time world champion with the U.S. Women’s National Team, NCAA champion, and former Lady Duck – is no stranger to giving back to her youth hockey roots. This past summer, Pankowski joined the Lady Ducks coaching staff at the Girls and Women Elite Training camp at The Rinks-Anaheim ICE.
“I am honored to have been a part of the amazing growth of women’s hockey in California, especially through the Lady Ducks organization,” Pankowski said. “I am excited to see what the future holds for them and where they continue to grow from here.”
The following weekend at The Rinks-Huntington Beach Inline, participants were joined by members of the Women’s National Inline Hockey Team, who just brought home the gold from the World Roller Games in Barcelona, Spain.
“It’s really great to see THE RINKS put resources into growing the game of hockey, especially from the inline side,” said team member Celeste Loyatho. “This was a very fun event for us to see unfold. It is rare for the USA women to get to interact with young girls in our sport. We want to see a new generation take our spot someday and I think these women did a great job at this event sparking the idea that one day that could be possible. Even if they are just learning. The team was generous enough to share their time with these girls helping them get dressed, work through drills on the rink, and take pictures with them after with their 2019 World Roller Games medals and jerseys.”
“The best part of hosting these events is knowing that there is more we can do to continue to grow the game,” added THE RINKS marketing coordinator Amber Willis, who comes from an inline hockey background. “At the end of day, hockey is hockey. The great part of knowing that is that we have an opportunity to continue growth from all angles, rather than just focusing on one segment of the sport.”
The growth of hockey in California is no longer a surprise in the hockey community. Per USA Hockey, California is still one of the fastest growing markets in the country.
“It’s great to see that our programs and initiatives are having such an impact in our community,” said THE RINKS marketing associate Kirstie Bender. “With how much exposure and success the U.S. Women’s National Team has had in the last couple of years, there is a demand now for more girls-specific programming, which is key to growing programs like the Lady Ducks.
“Having players who are at the top of their game, like Annie and Celeste, to show these girls what they can achieve through the game at the highest levels is tremendous.”
— Anaheim Ducks Staff
(Oct. 28, 2019)