Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada
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Hockey DayMoms on ice

Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 | 12:03 PM

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The joyous faces of a winning team. The joyous faces of a winning team.

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Every Wednesday morning between October and March, Tanya Sheridan wakes up early and heads to Cody Banks Arena in Sherwood with a bag of hockey gear. For decades it would be her kids she would be driving to early morning practice, but for the last seven years it has been Sheridan who is hitting the ice.

By Julia Cook

Every Wednesday morning between October and March, Tanya Sheridan wakes up early and heads to Cody Banks Arena in Sherwood with a bag of hockey gear. For decades it would be her kids she would be driving to early morning practice, but for the last seven years it has been Sheridan who is hitting the ice.

Sheridan is a player, manager and social convenor for a team of (primarily) hockey moms called the Sherwood Ice Crystals. The original Hockey Momma's on P.E.I. formed a decade ago to promote healthy living and to raise funds for breast cancer research. There are now more than a dozen moms teams across Prince Edward Island.  The teams are made up of women with varying levels of experience and ages.

When her team first started seven years ago, Tanya Sheridan couldn't wait for her own time on the ice, even though she didn't know how to skate.

"There were girls in figure skates and no gear, not even a stick"  Sheridan recalls. "Some girls didn't know the game at all, but we didn't really care. There were a lot of giggles and a lot of falling down."

The current version of the team includes a couple of grandmothers, a university professor and a United Church minister. Every Wednesday morning, they throw their sticks into the middle of the ice and Sheridan divides them into teams for an hour long scrimmage.

And the Ice Crystals have come a long way. In April 2011, they won their division at the UPEI Hockey Momma's Paderno Challenge Cup. The Paderno Cup is described as "the" tournament for women hockey players 35+ in Atlantic Canada.

The tournament began in 2008 with 8 teams. It has grown to more than 20 teams now, with 300 participants. The teams have an interesting assortment of names including the Halifax Hot Flashers, the Moncton Mother Puckers, Rothesay Pickless Chicks, West Prince Desperate Housewives and Cardigan Dirty Skirts.

Bruce Donaldson organizes the competition. He also coaches the UPEI women's hockey team. He says the competition is a chance for women to have time away from their family and enjoy a weekend with other women.

"It's a very different activity for some women," says Donaldson. "And the social part is important. There is a little competition, but the women enjoy it because they feel very comfortable and there's a fun aspect.

"The Paderno Challenge Cup has also teamed up with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and raised over $10,000 for research. Donaldson says he's proud to see how the program has grown over the last number of years, but thinks there's definitely room for expansion.

Tanya Sheridan understands the difficulty of getting women to remain involved with the program. She says when you have a family and other commitments; it's hard for women to take time out for themselves. But she says it's important for women to do something active, even if they don't know how to play the sport.

"It's an exercise class," says Sheridan. "But since it's hockey it's all the better and you don't feel like you're exercising. It's a great way to start the day. I'm not one for the gym and I need the support from my teammates in order to make the exercise fun. I love to see the smiling faces around me."

And when the Ice Crystals play, Sheridan says many families come out to support their moms or wives. "They're proud of us and like to see us enjoy a sport that we all love."
Sheridan says as long as her teammates want to come out dark and early every Wednesday morning, she will continue to book the ice time.

This year's Paderno Challenge Cup is the weekend of March 30th in Charlottetown.

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