Female hockey review looks at how to grow the sport on P.E.I.
'It's important to get people's perspectives out there in the communities'
Female hockey players, their families, coaches and other volunteers on P.E.I. are being asked what it will take to continue to grow the sport on the Island.
A special committee appointed by Hockey P.E.I. is holding meetings to gather ideas.
"It's been a province-wide and national initiative to grow the game on the female level, that continues to be a priority, but in order to do so we have to remain relevant," said Geoff Kowalski, executive director of Hockey P.E.I.
"It's interesting how fast things change from year to year, whether it's the numbers, or the competitive play, or players who are more interested in recreational level sport."
Kowalski said Hockey P.E.I. has around 1,200 female minor hockey players this season, compared to about 1,150 last year and about 1,050 the previous two years.
Kowalski said it's important to listen to people at the grassroots of hockey across the Island.
"We can make decisions from the office and from our chairs, but at the same time it's important to get people's perspectives out there in the communities," Kowalski said.
"What are they looking for? How do we know what people want if we don't ask the question, right?"
'Champions of female hockey'
Jen MacDonald, the director of female hockey for Hockey P.E.I., is part of the committee conducting the review.
"This committee is a board-appointed committee and we've selected champions of female hockey from across the province from east to west," MacDonald said.
"We've tried to have a nice variety of having some grassroots involvement, and we have some that are geared towards more high-performance involvement."
There have been three meetings so far, in O'Leary, Montague and Summerside, with another planned Thursday night in Charlottetown.
"We've had some really good feedback, we've had some people that are looking to see more promotion of female hockey," MacDonald said.
"We're getting some feedback on the high-performance program and hearing that our membership would like to see more development opportunities across all levels."
MacDonald said there has also been some interest in double carding, where girls would be able to play in the male and female stream at the same time.
Hearing from players
They've also been hearing from bantam and midget-aged players, who were invited to take part in the sessions.
"These girls, they're the best ones to ask because they're the ones that have gone through it so far and they've got a lot to say," MacDonald said.
"They've got some great ideas and we want to keep those girls in sport and we want to attract more girls."
MacDonald said women's hockey is in the spotlight right now, making it the perfect time for this review.
"World championships are going to be held in Nova Scotia, UPEI is having a strong playoff, you see the involvement of females in the NHL all-star game," MacDonald said.
"So we would like to get more girls involved in the game and what we can do to attract them to this sport."
MacDonald said the committee's goal is to come up with recommendations, and then share those this spring with Hockey P.E.I. and members.
"Myself personally, I've gained a lot from my experience in hockey and and I would love to see more girls getting that opportunity," MacDonald said.
"The girls have so many opportunities and those opportunities seem to be growing and growing."