Women’s hockey scores higher numbers

While women’s hockey continues to make great strides on a national level, those involved with the program here have started to benefit from that popularity.
A “significant” number of new players signed up for the coming season during registration Saturday, coach Stuart McIvor noted, adding that helped offset the handful who left to attend university.
And while numbers usually drop off once kids reach the 15-20 age bracket in boys’ hockey, that wasn’t the case with the women.
In fact, the program saw several new players sign up for the Bantam, Midget, and Juvenile age groups, which has led to a Bantam team (for players aged 14-15) hitting the ice here for the first time.
“The sport is nowhere close to where it can go [in terms of popularity],” McIvor enthused yesterday. “It’s growing across the country every year. And we’re excited to have a Bantam team here for the first time.”
In past seasons, players were forced to be grouped into overlapping age divisions due to a lack of numbers here.
But McIvor also is pleased new teams have begun to spring up around the area. Warroad and International Falls, for instance, have new teams this season and he already has arranged some exhibition games with them.
“This is a good opportunity for us to play some new teams and have the girls play against those that are their same age and gender,” said McIvor, in his fourth year with the program.
“The new registrants we now have are bringing in good hockey experience from where they played before, and they have good skills,” he added.
On the down side, McIvor said the women’s hockey program still has to contend with a lack of ice time since the new indoor ice surface is not expected to be in use until after the end of the season.
The program has secured its normal three hours of ice time each Saturday night at Memorial Arena but McIvor added it definitely will be looking for additional ice time next year.
To compensate for the lack of ice time, McIvor said the program is looking at travelling to several tournaments this season. While they have made trips in the past to Dryden, Kenora, and Thunder Bay, they also will be looking at Duluth and Fargo, N.D.
“We can’t get more ice time [here] so we are going to be going to more tournaments,” said McIvor, adding they always find other teams that are of the same calibre.
“Certainly, we’re not discouraged when we go there,” he noted. “We have enough success that the players want to go back.”
Anyone still interested in registering for women’s hockey here can contact McIvor (274-6748).