The New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center partnered with USA Hockey and the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Hockey Association to host “World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend” at AmeriHealth Pavilion on October 11th. Approximately 150 girls participated in the day’s festivities, including skaters from Philadelphia, Harlem and Newark, along with teams from MAWHA.
The events at AmeriHealth Pavilion represented one event in celebration of a weekend-long global initiative spearheaded by the International Ice Hockey Federation, the international governing body of the sport, which designated October 10 and 11 as a worldwide opportunity to introduce girls to hockey.
At AmeriHealth Pavilion, Hockey Director and Associate Coach in Chief for the Atlantic District of USA Hockey, Andy Gojdycz described the clinic as an event to introduce girls to the game, “to show them the higher levels of hockey that girls play,” and demonstrate where skaters could go with the sport.
On each end of the ice, cross-ice scrimmages played out, while in the middle of the ice, dividers created four stations where skaters worked on stickhandling, passing and agility using ringettes. The participants even played a soccer-like game on the ice emphasizing footwork. Off the ice, a seventh drill offered practice with ball-handling, stickhandling and other fine motor skills, using wooden golf-ball sized balls that translate directly to puck and stickhandling on the ice. Skaters spent 20 minutes in each section, with 20 minute off-ice intervals between sections for an hour of on-ice time.
As a special treat for the Devils’ clinic, Josephine Pucci, a member of the 2014 silver medal United States Olympic team was on hand to meet skaters, take photos and participate in the activities of the day. “It’s a great opportunity to try and get more girls aware of ice hockey and get more girls excited about ice hockey,” Pucci said. The Pearl River, NY native even brought her silver medal, to the amazement of the skaters who saw it. “To have an Olympian in the same building with these girls, who herself played at the highest levels…it just completes the event” Gojdycz said
Girls’ hockey is a fast-growing sport in the United States, with a new professional league, the NWHL, recently formed with four teams in the eastern United States. “Girls hockey will continue to grow, and will continue to flourish,” Gojdycz said, looking at the increasing number of NCAA Division I scholarship opportunities and the new professional league.