Female hockey players on P.E.I. will have more opportunities to play at a high level this season — and hockey fans will have two more teams to cheer for.
Prince Edward Island will have two teams joining the under-18 Maritime Major Female Hockey League. They’ll join six other teams based in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
The Island’s top under-18 male players have long had the opportunity to travel and play in a Maritime league. For the females, however, it’s a first.
Erin Ostridge, chair of the female council with Hockey P.E.I., said it’s something that has been in the works for several years.
“It’s a huge focus for Hockey P.E.I. to grow the female game and having our females play at the highest level. This highest level allows our younger girls to see what’s possible and what great exposure they can get, even if they’re playing at home.”
The owners of the Summerside Western Capitals and the Charlottetown Islanders are starting the new P.E.I. franchises.
Western Capitals’ general manager Pat McIver said his club is keen to help develop female hockey and has the experience to do it.
“We’re already renting buses. We’re already buying equipment and stuff like that. We can try to keep costs down for families as much as we possibly can. That’s where our expertise will be able to help out. “
It was good news to the girls playing in a summer camp in Summerside Wednesday.
“I look up to a lot of girl, female hockey players, and I would like for there to be an NHL for girls, not just only boys,” said 10-year-old Maria DesRosiers.
Grace Poirier, nine, added: “I just feel like they should give girls more of a chance to go into those higher leagues, cause they got the higher skill.”
The teams are beginning to line up sponsors and volunteers and work out their schedules, names and branding, McIver said. Tryouts will be held before the games begin in October.
Some of their young fans are already looking ahead a few years down the road when they will get a chance to try out.
“It makes me feel just really inspired, how I can push myself to be the best,” Poirier said.
“It makes me feel happy.”