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Devils and Prudential Center host Newark’s first all-girls ADM hockey clinic

by Gordy Stillman / New Jersey Devils
Skaters ranging from eight to 14 years old participated in the New Jersey Devils' all-girls American Development Model clinic hosted with the support of USA Hockey on March 19. Across seven stations, the girls worked on skills including stickhandling, shooting, passing and more. Photo by Patrick Dodson

The New Jersey Devils, in partnership with USA Hockey, hosted the team’s first girls-only American Development Model clinic at Prudential Center’s practice facility, the newly renamed Barnabas Health Hockey House. The clinic was the third in a series of ADM events hosted at the team’s practice rink.

More than 50 girls from around the Atlantic District—New Jersey, Delaware and eastern Pennsylvania—participated in the hour-long skills program on March 18. Players ages 8-14 honed their skills at various stations, including 3-on-3 cross ice hockey, stickhandling drills using ringettes, passing and even kicking a soccer ball into a goalie net to emphazie balance.

“When you think about it, you’re working on both edges of your skates,” said Andy Gojdycz, the New Jersey Devils’ Director of Grassroots and Amateur Hockey Operations and USA Hockey’ Associate Coach in Chief for the Atlantic District. “Footwork, balance, coordination, though we present it as having fun.”

2014 silver medalist Josephine Pucci led skaters in a drill where participants avoided cones, emphasizing footwork and coordination. Pucci was previously at Prudential Center for the IIHF's World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend clinic in October 2015. Photo by Patrick Dodson

Gojdycz, who is also the New Jersey ADM supervisor for USA Hockey, enlisted the help of an all-star cast of coaches, including Kiira Dosdall and Gabbie Figueroa of the NWHL’s New York Riveter, Olympian Josephine Pucci and current and former NCAA players. For many of the coaches, all-girl clinics were not available as they began their hockey careers, making the chance to help guide the young players all the more special.

“I was the only girl in southern Connecticut that played, that was my age, maybe a couple of others, but we all played with boys,” Dosdall explained. “When I was a kid, I knew every other girl player within a 30 mile radius of me. Now there are dozens of programs within any 30 mile radius around New Jersey or Connecticut.” Dosdall added that it was a great feeling to be able to help coach kids in the growing segment of the game.

“It’s great to have so many girls out there and to really see the sheer number of girls at every age group,” Roxanne Gaudiel said. Gaudiel, was a four-year goaltender at Princeton, and said growing up she never had the chance to attend a girl-focused clinic growing up in Venice, Florida.

Passing the puck is a key skill at all levels of the game. At one station, skaters worked on passing, first while standing stationary and then while in motion, working on both forward and backhand passes. Photo by Patrick Dodson

The creation of the clinic represents the growing participation of girls in the sport. “The success of our Olympic teams and the success of our NCAA teams is just spreading [interest] through the younger kids,” USA Hockey ADM Coordinator Maureen Thompson-Siegel said.

The clinic served as the inaugural event at the newly renamed Barnabas Health Hockey House, and was held just a week after the facility hosted the NWHL’s Isobel Cup Final. “You can see how circular it is,” Gojdycz said. Some of the participants in the clinic attended the NWHL’s championship series held March 11-12.

Natalia Petersen, an 11-year-old goalie with the Bayonne Rangers, who attended both the NWHL finals and the clinic, said she hopes to eventually play professionally and that it felt “amazing” to be on the same ice as some of her heroes.

“The Devils are fully committed to the growth of girls youth hockey and understand the significance the sport can have in a child's development on and off the ice,” Gojdycz said at the event.

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