Over the past two seasons, the Whitehorse Women’s Hockey League has had regular season games with a real-life goalie in one net and a large wooden board with holes in it used for shooting practice in the other.
However, a lack of netminders and low players numbers looks to be a thing of the past.
Less than two weeks from the start of its third season, the women’s league has seen an explosion of player interest in the past few days, prompting organizers to add a fifth team to the schedule.
“We tried to shorten the season a bit, but we have a fifth team we weren’t expecting,” said league executive Suzanne Roy. “We’ve had 35 women sign up in the last three days.
“So we were barely going to have four teams with four days to go and then everyone came out of the woodwork, like in typical Yukon fashion.
“It’s growing for sure, and with Hockey Day in Canada coming up here (February 12), it’s going to be fun.”
With the teams to be drafted at the end of next week after a pair of preseason evaluation games, the league will have five teams, each with 15 players, making 75 in total.
In addition, the league also has a list of substitute players each of the teams can draw on when needing to top-up a roster. Included in the list are one or two goalies, hopefully benching the particleboard netminders once and for all.
“I don’t think goaltending is going to be an issue this year,” said Roy. “At least in terms of not shooting at a board.”
Unconcerned with ability or age, the league, which will be active Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday with occasional weekend games, operates on a first-come, first-serve basis, making it a hodgepodge of players of varying ages and skill levels.
“I know we let minors in with parental consent – our insurance company does cover minors,” said Roy. “Skill level: no. Come on out and have some fun.
“We have everything from beginners, who have never skated before or puck handled, all the way to players, there’s a couple out here, who played college hockey. So there are players who have played for 20 years.
“It is a broad range of skill, but we try to make the teams even. We try to throw some of the stronger players onto each team so there’s a good mix and potentially they can mentor some of the developing players.”
To sharpen existing skills – or to even introduce newbies to the sport – the league is hosting beginner, intermediate and goalie clinics this week and weekend, made possible by $11,651 from Community Development Tier 1 funding the league received in July. There will also be 10 skill refresher courses throughout the season.
“Last year was a really good season and we’re hoping to build on that this year and develop more skills,” said Roy. “It’s going to be a good year. The level is going to be a little bit higher. We’ve gone from a beginner league to a rec league.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
For more information, or to put your name on the sub-list, e-mail league officials at email@example.com.
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