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Ducks Host Try Hockey for Free Days for Area Girls

The free one-hour street, inline and ice hockey sessions were part of the International Ice Hockey Federation's (IIHF) World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend

by Jenelyn Russo / Special to AnaheimDucks.com

Girls interested in trying hockey got their chance over the weekend as the Ducks participated in the International Ice Hockey Federation's (IIHF) World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend by hosting free one-hour street, inline and ice hockey sessions at THE RINKS - Huntington Beach Inline and Lakewood ICE.

 

Approximately 50 girls participated in the Try Hockey For Free Days, where they were provided with full sets of equipment and an introduction to the sport of hockey. Anaheim Lady Ducks coaches and players, along with coaches from The Rinks, were on hand to give the girls instruction on basic skating and hockey skills.

Director and Lady Ducks head coach Kathy McGarrigle sees first-hand how offering free events like these where girls are exposed to hockey can be integral to the growth of the sport.

"Getting 30 to 40 girls out on the ice, even if that means that five sign up to play at the beginning level, is five more girls than there were before," McGarrigle says. "Maybe another five sign up in the next few months. We see that as significant growth for girls hockey."


"Getting 30 to 40 girls out on the ice, even if that means that five sign up to play at the beginning level, is five more girls than there were before," McGarrigle says. "Maybe another five sign up in the next few months. We see that as significant growth for girls hockey."
 


Sunday's session at Lakewood ICE began with the girls taking the ice and learning some introductory skating skills. Participants were then separated into stations by age and skill level, where coaches began implementing hockey basics such as stickhandling, passing and shooting. Lady Ducks players worked alongside the girls, offering both instruction and encouragement.

"We have a lot of Lady Ducks players who give back and participate as junior coaches, so out on the ice, young girls and their parents can see that there are some very accomplished players that are only a few years ahead of the girls trying hockey today," said McGarrigle. "It gives them an opportunity to see where their child could be at if they got involved in the sport. And our players get to be role models for the day as well."


"The people helping us were really nice," said Rayne. "I definitely want to continue to play. I want to learn how to do all of the skills better."
 

Eleven-year old Amaya Rayne from Long Beach had some prior skating experience through attending a few public skate sessions, but the free event was her first time on the ice in full hockey gear.

"I liked it," said Rayne of the ice hockey session. "I had never tried anything like this before. It was hard, but it was fun."

Having tried other sports and not finding much of a fit, Rayne had a positive experience on the ice and is excited about the opportunity to learn to play hockey.

"The people helping us were really nice," said Rayne. "I definitely want to continue to play. I want to learn how to do all of the skills better."

For those girls wishing to continue, the Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play Program presented by Bauer offers the appropriate next steps for beginning skating and skills development for both inline and ice hockey. The free four-week session provides participants with the use of a full set of hockey equipment and builds upon the skills demonstrated at the Try Hockey For Free events.

Additionally, those participants who complete the Learn to Play Program and sign up for a paid program within The Rinks will receive a complete set of Mission/Bauer equipment for free that they can keep, courtesy of Anaheim Ducks players Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

"It's a really great way to get started affordably," said McGarrigle of the Learn to Play Program. "Some of the younger ones here today seem to have already taken to some of the skating, so they have the opportunity to go right in as a Lady Duck in Training."


"We have a lot of Lady Ducks players who give back and participate as junior coaches, so out on the ice, young girls and their parents can see that there are some very accomplished players that are only a few years ahead of the girls trying hockey today."

For Rayne's mother, Zainab Williams, having the ability for her daughter to try a new sport through free events is a helpful way to expose her to more options.

"I thought it was very organized, and the girls were really friendly, which helped a lot," said Williams of the event. "The coaches were great and gave the girls plenty of reassurance, which helped ease their apprehension. It's fun to see her out there."

Over the last 17 years, the Lady Ducks hockey program has seen significant growth, expanding from 30 players to more than 200 players. This season, the club is offering 12 girls' teams and two women's teams, including two teams at the 8U level.

"Our program has grown tremendously, and it's so great to see," said McGarrigle. "The growth comes in large part from events like these, World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend and Try Hockey For Free Days, where girls are empowered to go out there and try something new. All of these efforts, along with all that the Ducks do to support the Lady Ducks, have really helped to grow our program into what it is today."


"Our program has grown tremendously, and it's so great to see," said McGarrigle. "The growth comes in large part from events like these, World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend and Try Hockey For Free Days, where girls are empowered to go out there and try something new."

 

For more information on the Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play Program, visit anaheimducks.com/learntoplay.

And for more information on the Anaheim Lady Ducks hockey club, visit anaheimladyducks.com.

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