Chalk Talk: IIHF World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend sparks future growth
From a “Girls Try Hockey For Free Day” to NCAA student-athlete commitments this fall: California provides growing opportunities for females of ALL ages and levels of play.
Girls Try Hockey – Clubs Form Teams
As Girls Try Hockey For Free events were underway over the Oct. 6-8 weekend across California, it became evident that we are closer than ever to forming a girls league for 10U and 12U and perhaps 14U within the next 2-3 years.
Once unimaginable, several milestones such as USA Hockey’s American Development Model (ADM) program implementation, the 2007 Anaheim Lady Ducks 12U national championship, and later, the Anaheim Ducks winning California’s first Stanley Cup, followed by the LA Kings, all helped sprout expanded interest in playing hockey. All of a sudden, things started to change for girls wanting to play.
Girls hockey was a tiny, slowly rolling snowball for most of the last decade, but as the ADM has blossomed, so has the opportunity for more girls teams to sprout up. Five CAHA clubs have girls programs now, totaling more than 30 all-girls teams in 2017. Is that snowball getting bigger? Yes. Is there room for two or three more girls programs? We hope so!
Stay in California to Play
Today, girls who have played IN California can more easily stay in California, complete school, their hockey career and develop, 8U through 19U before moving to bigger things at NCAA Division I, Division III and ACHA competitive programs. Last year alone, more than 25 girls graduated from Tier I and II hockey teams in California and are freshmen at many college hockey programs. A handful are beginning rookie seasons at the highly competitive Division I schools like St. Cloud State University or Yale University. Division III schools are more competitive than ever and another dozen Cali freshmen are getting started at a variety of universities.
The ACHA, a new option for many, is a nationally competitive collegiate club format that has burst at the seams in recent years, including programs in the west at USC and ASU and drawing many Tier II-level players into their ranks. The ACHA offers women’s ice hockey for those who may not want to go back East for competitive ice hockey while in college.
There are more than 50 homegrown Californian female student-athletes currently playing NCAA women’s ice hockey, most of whom played girls hockey throughout their entire youth careers for teams like the Lady Ducks or Sharks girls. While most future Division I and III college student-athletes get scouted at Tier I team showcases, such as Two Nations, Stony Creek and other invitational scouting events, Tier II teams give players opportunities to prep for Division III and ACHA programs such as the Chicago Invite event, also during the Girls Hockey Weekend.
At whatever level young California girls dream to compete, their pathway can remain under the sunny skies of California until their college opportunities arise.
Take a look at upcoming events to promote female hockey in California.
On Dec. 15, San Jose will be hosting the women’s pre-Olympic Team USA vs. Team Canada series game (Lady Duck alumnus Annie Pankowski on Team USA). Then over the New Year, Jan. 5-6, 2018, the Lady Ducks will be hosting an NCAA Division I game featuring four Lady Ducks alumni as Lindenwood University faces off against St. Lawrence University.
Wherever you live, one or both of these would be an amazing chance to see what it’s all about. There are more than 50 CAHA girls playing college hockey in 2017.
Looks like that number is going to get even bigger in the near future!
Kathy McGarrigle serves as the director/head coach of the Anaheim Lady Ducks and currently coaches the 12U AAA and 14U AA teams. She has also worked as a middle school teacher for the past 28 years.