British Columbia

India's first female ice hockey team ready for tips from 2 Canadian greats

Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser and Stanley Cup Champ Andrew Ference head to remote northern India to grow female game globally.

Hayley Wickenheiser and Andrew Ference pack donated gear to remote area of the Himalaya Mountains

On the frozen ice lakes of Ladakh, women from India gear up to play hockey. (LWIHF/Facebook )

Every winter morning, in temperatures that often dip to minus 30, a girls' hockey team heads out for its daily skate. 

The practice is not in Canada but on a frozen lake in the Himalaya Mountains of northern India. 

India's first women's ice hockey team was unknown until about a year ago when a video went viral and changed their fortune. 

Four-time Canadian ice hockey Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser and Stanley Cup champion Andrew Ference are among 13 people heading to the remote village of Ladakh to empower the group of unexpected young female hockey players. 

The group left Vancouver Thursday morning for New Delhi. 

"I think we have 60 bags we checked of hockey equipment we're taking up to the Himalayas," said Ference before boarding a flight at YVR. 

The visit will prepare the Indian women for a trip to Canada in November 2018 to the Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival, in Calgary. 

"It's a bit of an exchange opportunity," said Wickenheiser. 

"It's just a great way to grow the game of hockey and maybe help them help themselves through their life as well."

The equipment going to India with Wickenheiser and Ference includes donations from the NHL Players' Association and various other hockey organizations.