Even the lack of ice could not stop a group of young hockey enthusiasts in Hay River from celebrating World Girls’ Hockey Weekend.

The World Girls’ Hockey Weekend was celebrated in Hay River on Oct. 7 by Blakely Beck, front; second row, left to right, Rylie Beck, Miah Harris, Helene McKay-Ivanko and Sophia Brito; and back, Kim Ivanko. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Five girls and adult organizer Kim Ivanko celebrated with a fun game of floorball in the gym at Harry Camsell School.

“It doesn’t have to be on the ice. Obviously, we can’t this season,” said Ivanko of the event for World Girls’ Hockey Weekend. “But, it can be different events to celebrate females in hockey.”

Since the community’s recreation centre – and its arena – are still not finished being rebuilt, the girls played floorball as the next best alternative.

From Oct. 6 to Oct. 8, the International Ice Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada teamed up for the seventh annual World Girls’ Hockey Weekend.

The special weekend aims to celebrate and grow female hockey from coast to coast and unite Canadians through grassroots programming that is led by local communities, minor hockey associations and families.

Dozens of countries around the globe also participated with events.

The girls playing floorball in Hay River each received a special tuque emblazoned with the words “World Girls’ Hockey Weekend” to remember their participation.

Miah Harris was one of them.

“It was just nice to come and do stuff,” said the 10-year-old.

She has been playing hockey since she was about four, and will be back on the ice when the new arena opens.

Helene McKay-Ivanko also enjoyed the floor hockey for the World Girls’ Hockey Weekend.

“It’s like playing with girls all across the world,” she said.

The 11-year-old, who has also been playing hockey since she was four, is looking forward to getting back on the ice.

Ivanko said Hockey Canada wants to see more girls playing hockey.

“It’s always great to see a huge inundation of females in any types of sports, and I think it’s just part of the promotion to encourage girls to play hockey,” she said of the World Girls’ Hockey Weekend, adding she thinks it’s a great idea.

Ivanko recognizes more girls may have shown up for the event except it was happening on a long weekend.

“I realize its Thanksgiving and people are probably out of town or have other plans,” she said.

Ivanko hopes that next year World Girls’ Hockey Weekend will be celebrated in Hay River on ice.

“I’d love to have it in an arena and have a real hockey game at the same time as the rest of Canada,” she said. “I think that would be quite a memorable event.”

Ivanko is assistant coach for the Hay River Minor Hockey peewee team, which is made up of boys and girls.

There is a female hockey team in the community – the Hay River Hazard.

“That team has been around for probably about 12 years,” said Ivanko.

The number of female hockey players in Hay River varies from one winter to the next.

“It fluctuates based on the year, depending on who moves to Hay River and who’s played before and who wants to try it,” said Ivanko.

She hopes the new arena will encourage more females to try hockey.

“Hopefully with the new arena it would be nice to celebrate with lots of people coming back to ice sports,” she said.

Ivanko herself is returning to playing hockey after an absence of two or three years.

“I’m coming back because my kids are older,” she said. “And now I have more time to dedicate to it.”

Yellowknife also hosted its own event with more than 60 female players, youth and adults, hitting the ice on Oct. 7.

– with files from James McCarthy

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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