Saturday, 13 December 2014

Girls' Hockey Day In Canada

Today is a pretty big day for women's hockey in this province and across Canada. Locally, we were honoured to have an Olympian visit our city and teach girls how to play hockey a little better and reach for their dreams. In Toronto, the stars of today's game took part in the first annual CWHL All-Star Game. Later, in the evening, the Manitoba Bisons women's team battled the best that Manitoba has produced over the years as part of Hockey Manitoba's 100-Year Celebration! Needless to say, Saturday was a big day for the women's game!

Scotiabank Girls' Hockeyfest is always a big day in Manitoba. Over 1000 girls participated this year, and they were greeted by gold medalist and The Amazing Race participant Meaghan Mikkelson at their sessions! While the girls ran through the drills overseen by Hockey Manitoba representatives, everyone was more than thrilled when they got to have their picture taken with Miss Mikkelson and her gold medal. She was excellent with the girls, she gave great advice, and she smiled all day long while looking back at a thousand smiling faces as they watched one of their heroes in action.

Many thanks should be sent out to Miss Mikkelson for her participation today at the MTS IcePlex, so I'll add HBIC's thanks to that list as well. Miss Mikkelson is a fantastic ambassador and a true all-star, and there were plenty of happy kids who played hockey today because of her involvement!

From there, lots of eyes landed on Rogers' Sportsnet for the first annual CWHL All-Star Game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Team Red, captained by goaltender Charline Labonte of the Montreal Stars, would square off against Team White, captained by Jessica Campbell of the Calgary Inferno. Friday evening saw the two captains pick teams in a rather unconventional, but often-seen-in-hockey, style: the tossing of sticks in he middle, and random selection for the two teams!

"Most of the girls have had that experience," Labonte told Rob Del Mundo of the team selection process. "That's how I started playing hockey. I was on the street with friends, and with my brother. After school, or at school, that’s what we did. It wasn't serious. Let's just put our sticks in the middle and play!"

The CWHL was hoping for some 12,000 fans, but they ended up with 6850, a number that needs to grow in coming years. The CWHL All-Star Game, for the talent shown, should help that growth as the game was fast, fun, and exciting!

Natalie Spooner, Meaghan Mikkelson's partner on The Amazing Race was the only player to find the back of the net in the opening period, beating Team Canada teammate Labonte to put Team White up 1-0. Team White went up 2-0 in the second period when Kelli Stack beat Christina Kessler. Team Red needed to rally as they went into the third period. Sami Jo Small and Delayne Brian held Team Red off the scoreboard in the opening 40 minutes.

Team Red roared out of the gates in the third period when Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux and Jamie Lee Rattray beat Genvieve Lacasse before the period was three minutes old. Suddenly, the 2-0 deficit was a 2-2 hockey game! The stage was set for a hero to emerge, and it was a big player for Team Canada who broke the deadlock midway through the period. Rebecca Johnston was sent in alone on Lacasse by Anne-Sophie Bettez, and she went stick-side for the 3-2 Team Red lead! Brampton Thunder netminder Erica Howe held the fort the rest of the way to give Team Red the 3-2 win in the first annual CWHL All-Star Game!

Finally, the great day of women's hockey was highlight by the "Made In Manitoba" hockey game that featured the Manitoba Bisons against a team of exceptional women from Manitoba. Some of the great women featured in this game included goaltender Stacey Corfield, forwards Amy Lee, Kyleigh Palmer, and Addie Miles, and defencemen Rebecca Hewitt and Amanda Schnell. Needless to say, the Manitoba alumni team was an all-star team of amazing Manitobans, so it would be a tough game for the current crop of Bisons.

I will fully admit that I didn't attend this game as I had a previous engagement to attend. I can honestly say that I would have swapped places in a heartbeat, but it is what it is when it comes to commitments. That being said, the Manitoba alumni skated to a 5-1 win over the Bisons in what sounded like a fun-filled game with lots of smiles, laughter, and chatter amongst the Manitoba players and the Bisons.

Now, I'm not here to criticize Hockey Manitoba for the work they do, but this was a major event in the 100-Year Celebration of your program. Maybe you could post some game results or a few highlights on your website for fan to enjoy? If you want to bring a little recognition to your program, visuals and write-ups go a long way in helping. You're welcome for being one of the few sites who took the time to recognize the game and your efforts.

It was an amazing day of hockey for women of all ages today, and there were many female stars recognized for their hard work, their talents, and their dedication. Personally, it's one of my favorite days on the calendar, and I can only wish for more them!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: