© Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
O‚ÄôLeary Atom Girls hockey players Claudia Sweet, left, and Breanna Rayner are excited about the prospects of more girls joining their sport. The O‚ÄôLeary Minor Hockey Association recently received 32 sets of hockey equipment from a North American organ
O'LEARY - For young girls living in Western P.E.I. and wanting to try hockey, it doesn't get much better than this:
The O'Leary Minor Hockey Association is hosting a Try Hockey event at the O'Leary Community Sports Centre on Saturday, Oct. 23.
The event, for girls aged five to 12, is being offered free of charge, and all of the equipment, except for the skates, is supplied.
"These young girls who are playing now can attest to how much fun they're having," said O'Leary Minor Hockey Association past-president, Joanne Wallace.
Girls hockey, she said, really started to grow after it made it into the Canada Games and the Olympics.
"But we still need more effort to get more girls out," she said.
The OMHA was one of two associations in Canada awarded funding through the nonprofit OneGoal organization this fall to host a female outreach Try Hockey event.
OneGoal, whose membership includes the National Hockey League, the NHL Players Association, NHL Alumni, USA Hockey, Hockey Canada, rinks, retailers and manufacturers, is not only covering all the costs associated with hosting the special fun event but has also supplied 32 sets of brand new hockey equipment. Each hockey bag contains all the equipment the players need, except the skates.
"Because it's such a generous donation we're trying to work with the other associations," Wallace said, explaining girls from within Minor Hockey Association boundaries from Evangeline to Tignish, are invited to attend the Try Hockey event.
"We've also offered the gear to those association for use during the winter," she said. "Just let us know and we'll make sure you get it."
The whole idea around applying to One Goal, Wallace said, was to grow the sport of female hockey.
"The last thing we want is the gear to be sitting and not being used. That's the last thing we want to happen. We want this to be used as much as possible. That's the bottom line."
Ideas are being developed to make sure the equipment gets lots of use. A girls' after school program is being considered.
The Try Hockey event on Oct. 23 at the O'Leary Community Sports Centre gets underway at 1:20 p.m. Members of the P.E.I. Canada Games women's hockey team will be in attendance to help the young girls in the dressing room and to interact with them during the fun drills on the ice. There will be draws and refreshments following the on-ice session.