When National Hockey League teams are granted a Stadium Series game, they work with the league to give back to the community through a Legacy Project. These projects have brought over seven million dollars into the community and made lasting impacts.

The New Jersey Devils were driven to fill a void in the youth hockey landscape with their project. As a result the Youth Hockey and Growth Initiatives team went to work as they developed and launched Jersey Girls Hockey Club. The all-girls, recreational league is for girls 5-12 who have graduated from the organization’s Learn to Play program.

“It fills this great big gap,” Jillian Frechette, Chief Marketing Officer of the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center explained. “We stretch across New Jersey in 14 rinks, offering Learn to Play programming for little kids, boys and girls.

“At the end of Learn to Play, quite often there’s not a fun, safe space for girls,” Frechette continued. “They have the choice of being potentially competitive and joining an elite travel team or maybe just still hanging with the boys, and not all girls like that. The Jersey Girls Hockey Club offers this recreational fun, safe place for these girls just to learn how to enhance their skills on the ice, foster confidence which is critically important, learn team work, and just have fun.”

“Girls hockey is one of the fastest growing segments in the USA Hockey market,” Matt Herr, the NHL’s Senior Director of Youth Hockey and Industry Growth Fund, shared. “To see a program that’s able to offers from Learn to Play and fills that gap from elite to Learn to Play, we often don’t see that.”

Jersey Girls Hockey Club fills a void in New Jersey

This program will immediately have impacts in the community as girls playing in New Jersey are eager for an opportunity like this. Former University of New Hampshire Captain and current New Jersey Colonials Head Coach Nicole Zajac has seen first-hand plenty of girls leaving the sport because of this void in programming.

“I think what the Devils did with Jersey Girls is 100% the right step,” said Zajac. “When you have young girls coming in they might play it for a year or two, if it gets really competitive, sometimes they find I don’t want to be at practice five times a week, a (bunch) of games on the weekend and not have time for anything else. So I’ve actually seen it coaching competitive girls, a few of them want to step back a little bit more for fun. To be able to have an all-girls league to be able to do that is phenomenal.”

Former U.S. National Team member and two-time Olympian Michelle Picard agreed with Zajac as she’s also seen too many players leave the sport during her time as a youth hockey coach.

“I think there’s a lot of kids who either stop playing a little too soon just because there aren’t opportunities to keep playing at a little less stressful level,” Picard said. “I think it’s great to keep more girls in the game. When I was working with a youth hockey organization we lost a lot of players because there wasn’t a team for them, so it makes me so happy that they’ll have a place to play.”


The girls who have signed up already are just as excited as Zajac and Picard. Luckily they won’t have to wait long as the league will run from late March until mid-May with games once a week on Saturdays.

“(I love) getting to ice skate,” Kennedy, age 9, shared. “I’m pretty excited. So far I’ve learned a lot from Learn to Play and I’m really excited to go on to the Jersey Girls Hockey Club.”

“I thought that it was really nice because there would be no boys,” Kinsley, aged 7, said about JGHC. “I’m excited for playing with my friends and playing with more girls.”

This opportunity and program wouldn’t be possible without the Devils, NHL, and Devils Youth Foundation coming together to fund and launch this groundbreaking league in the Garden State. For Executive Director of the Devils Youth Foundation Kate Whitman Annis, supporting Jersey Girls Hockey Club was a perfect fit for the Foundation’s goals and will help them develop critical life skills.

Gender Equality Night

“Jersey Girls Hockey Club aligns perfectly with the Devils Youth Foundation,” Whitman Annis explained. “We want to get kids active and moving, and that’s sports, fitness, and getting kids involved, especially girls involved in ice hockey at a young age.

“Hockey teaches kids about strength, about resilience, and about what they can do, and it pushes them to do new things that they never thought possible,” Whitman Annis continued. “That can change a kids life. Those are lessons that you take with for your whole career, you use it in your business, in your personal relationships. It’s something that we’re giving to kids, and then they can take it and run with it and be successful and be positive out in the world.”


The Devils commitment to growing the game has included various parts of the sport, from officiating to coaching. However, this new chapter is exciting for the entire organization as it creates space for girls to feel comfortable and grow in the sport on a casual level.

I’m really excited for the Jersey Girls,” Devils Assistant General Manager Kate Madigan shared. “I’m excited how we’re investing in all different facets.

“I tried hockey one day and I was with all boys,” Madigan continued. “I was seven years old and they made fun of me because I was the only girl. I look back and wish there was something like this for me where maybe I would have felt more comfortable. I see the potential that these girls can feel comfortable and grow and be amazing hockey players. We have Shelley Picard, Amanda Pelkey, Meghan Duggan, so this is the future and it’s nice that we’re providing the resources that they can get there.”