Pembina Valley Minor Hockey Association has seen an explosion of growth in their female programming this year.
One of the major programs that PVMHA has put together is a series of jamborees for Novice players that allow players to play and learn in a non-competitive environment. Players have already attended two jamborees on Dec. 30 in Winkler and Jan. 20 in Swan Lake, with one more on Feb. 17 in Elm Creek coming up.
These events were led by former AAA Hawk and Providence University hockey scholarship graduate Cassidy Carels, AAA Bantam Hawks Assistant Coach Christine Bumstead and power skating and development coach Brooke Enns.
“The response from players and families has been amazing,” Female Vice Director Kim Paull said. “So supportive of everything we are trying to do for the girls, it’s what keeps our wheels turning for this program.”
Paull said the jamborees are definitely something PVMHA want to continue into the future.
Paull said she has seen more girls coming out to try the sport. “We have returning players who have quit the sport and now returned as we offer female only options available, or brand new players coming to try out hockey for the first time on an all girls team,” she said. “The Winkler novice team is completely new players except for 1 double rostered player.”
PVMHA has also been seeing support from companies and individuals in the community. Red River Mutual Insurance has been providing all female Novice teams with a set of jerseys, and has been financially supporting the jamborees. The company plans to roll this sponsorship out throughout the province and Western Canada.
Former PVMHA Female Vice Director Mark Alderson has continued to help the growth of female hockey in the region and has provided a corporate sponsorship for the Peewee Female age group.
That includes putting together a skills and development program and the company Alderson works for, Pattern Energy, is supplying practice jerseys for the girls as well.
“The support from Red River Mutual and Mark Alderson’s employers Wind Pro has provided many opportunities and experiences we would have not been able to do without their contributions,” Paull said. “With both companies’ help we are able to provide a place to play for all girls in our region.”
Paull said the growth that female hockey has seen in the region will continue. “We are about to see change in our female programs with growth in our numbers which will provide opportunities for all our female coaches, players and associations,” she said.
The PVMHA Female Atom program has seven teams in their half-season league, with six of those teams entering into provincials. There are three teams in the female peewee half-season league.
The Peewee girls will be having a skills competition (sponsored by Derek Erb Seeds from Oak Bluff) on Feb. 14 at the Winkler Arena. The event will be streaming live, and the winners will have their names engraved on the first Peewee Female Skills Competition Cup.