When playing sports, it’s always better to play with and against players of similar calibre. This is true for female hockey, which has been steadily growing and developing in this area of Nova Scotia over the past number of years.
“Here in Pictou County, we’ve seen our numbers grow in the last five years from 60 or so players to more than 100 on all-female competitive teams,” said Sueann Musick, president of the Pictou County Female Hockey Association. “With this growth comes change.”
In order to have more players of similar skill sets playing together, this hockey season will see the concept of regionalization introduced in northern Nova Scotia.
What this means is different minor hockey associations will come together to form regional teams at the AA levels, similar to what has already been done in the southern part of the province.
“This process has introduced a better quality product in the south over the past number of years, and has allowed girls to play with other players that are more closely comparable in skill,” said Stephen Murray, chairperson of the Hockey Nova Scotia female council.
Locally, PCFHA (Subway Selects) will join together with the Antigonish Minor Hockey Association to form AA teams at some of the levels.
At most levels, an A team will also be formed. The atom level will remain unregionalized at this time.
Once these teams are formed, the plan is to have them play teams throughout the province at the AA level, while A-level teams will continue to play in a league in the northern area of the province. Efforts will be made to minimize travel where possible.
“Over the past number of years, the issues (problems) we've been faced with in the North in female hockey have been attempting to have players play at the appropriate level,” said Heather Murphy, the north conference coordinator for Hockey Nova Scotia’s female council. “With our current numbers, we don't have the ability to have the number of teams at AA and A levels to build a league for these girls. With regionalization, Hockey Nova Scotia will implement a provincial AA league, which will provide an opportunity for players to play at the appropriate level.
“By offering regionalization, it will provide a competitive level for the AA players and build up the numbers in the A level by offering an appropriate playing level for all players.”
“We know that this situation is not perfect for everyone and it will raise questions and concerns among our players and parents,” said Musick. “However, Hockey Nova Scotia sees this as the only way for our AA teams to play in a competitive league and grow our A teams, which will also enjoy strong competition at that level.”
She said that all of this depends on registration numbers, as the number of girls who sign up will determine what teams can be formed. While the final number of teams depends on registration numbers, the current plan is to ice the following teams:
Midget AA – hosted by Pictou County
Midget AA – hosted by Antigonish County
Midget A – hosted by Pictou County
Bantam AA – hosted by Pictou County
Bantam A – hosted by Antigonish County
Pee Wee AA – hosted by Pictou County
Pee Wee A – hosted by Pictou County
Pee Wee A – hosted by Antigonish County
Registration for tryouts takes place on Saturday, Aug. 24 from 9 a.m. to noon and Tuesday, Aug. 27 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Nova Scotia Community College cafeteria in Stellarton.