NorWOSSA splits girls’ hockey into two divisions

Citing a need for parity amid recent expansion, the Nor-WOSSA girls’ hockey conference will be split into two divisions next season.
Sioux Lookout and St. Thomas Aquinas (Kenora)—which will unveil girls’ high school hockey programs this fall—will join Red Lake in the newly-formed ‘A’ division.
Fort Frances, Dryden, and the Kenora Broncos will make up the ‘AA’ division.
“[Red Lake and Sioux Lookout] don’t have girls’ minor hockey,” reasoned NorWOSSA girls convener Dan Shankowsky. “The competitive hockey that girls are seeing for the first time is at the high school level.”
Last season, the first year girls’ hockey was sanctioned by NorWOSSA, there was notable discrepancy as Red Lake constantly was beaten by wide margins against the three other schools.
“It makes for interesting leagues,” Shankowsky added. “[But] the goal for ‘A’ teams is to improve. We just felt they needed to get their feet wet against schools of their calibre.”
He said continued improvement may allow them to recombine the two divisions down the road.
The only impact this has on the Muskies is that they’ll play more regular-season games against Dryden and Kenora (three home and three away against each), along with several exhibition games against ‘A’ schools and their regular run of exhibition tournaments.
“It’s a good move because it’s a little more cost-effective for us,” said FFHS co-athletic director Greg Ste. Croix.
The Muskies finished 4-7-1 in the regular season before losing to Dryden in the semi-finals in February. Beaver Brae went on to win the inaugural league title and then claim bronze at the ‘A/AA’ provincial showdown.
Shankowsky was pleased how their first year went.
“After watching games from most towns, I heard a lot of comments [by people] saying they really enjoyed it. I think we’ll see more people support girls’ hockey down the road,” he said, adding there’s still room for expansion in future, possibly Atikokan.
In related news, Pelican Falls (near Sioux Lookout) has joined the NorWOSSA boys’ hockey conference. The existing teams—the Muskies, Dryden, Kenora, Sioux Lookout, and Red Lake—now will play 20 regular-season games (two home games and two away against each squad).
Schedules for both boys’ and girls’ teams should be ready by September.