For the first time in Newfoundland and Labrador, a woman has been named head coach of a men's senior hockey team.

Rebecca Russell is the new head coach of the Clarenville Caribous, taking over from former coach-turned-player Dustin Russell.

Russell broke new ground as the first female assistant coach in October, and was named head coach on Tuesday. She said she's excited to begin her new role at the helm.

Russell is a celebrated hockey player in Clarenville, having gone to St. Lawrence University on a hockey scholarship.

She worked on the coaching staff for the University of Calgary as well as the Okanagan Hockey Academy, where she started a women's program and coached the boy's high school team.

Men and women both athletes, says Russell

While there are slight differences in coaching men and women, Russell said ultimately she treats all her players the same way.

"No matter if you're coaching men or women, they're athletes. They're all hockey players, and they deserve to be treated like athletes," she said.

"When it all comes down to it it's a game of hockey. Same game and you have the same kind of struggles no matter what you're dealing with."

Russell said she's experienced nothing but respect and positivity from the Caribous. 

She said that she'll likely have to make some tough decisions in the coming months, but said it's all business.

"At this level you play to win and whether players like it or not that's really out of my control. I'm going to try to make the decisions that will help us win hockey games."