Standing patiently at the Zamboni entrance at the Event Level of the Sommet Center, the Under-12 girls team lined up in two rows, shifting their weight back and forth from skate to skate. After sweeping their five-game tournament last weekend in Chicago, these girls were about to experience something even more special — they were going to play a game of shootout hockey on the very same ice that their heroes, the Nashville Predators, were playing on that same night.
During the Predators vs. Red Wings game last Tuesday, the Ice Tigers took to the ice during the first intermission and proved that hockey really is for everyone. In a male-dominated sport such as hockey, this team showed that the girls can play just as well as the boys. Along those same lines, one of the girls' mentors is none other than Liquid Ice Girl Amanda H. — who not only plays hockey in a men's league but also serves as assistant coach for the Ice Tigers U-12 team.
“I actually started coaching the girls two seasons ago, just on and off,” Amanda said. “But this season I took a more active role as an assistant coach. I play in a men’s league and playing with girls and just being able to practice with them takes me back to when I was growing up and playing with girls.
“It’s more than just playing hockey for them; it’s about being a part of the team. When you can be around girls your age and go after a common goal, that’s a cool thing. For me to be able to be a part of that and to influence the girls is a great feeling.”
Coach Ann Marie Taylor has seen a rise in girl’s and women’s hockey since she moved down from the hockey hotbed of Detroit to the non-traditional hockey market of Nashville. As the chair holder for girl’s and women’s hockey for the Southern Amateur Hockey Association, she attributes much of that rise to the Predators organization, which spends a lot of time developing hockey at the grass-roots level.
“(Their help) has been absolutely amazing,” Taylor said. “Most of these girls are season-ticket holders. They spend a lot of time watching the Preds, viewing games, talking about games. Shea Weber
and Patric Hornqvist
even came out and practiced with the girls.
“It gives them the opportunity to know that they are just as important as any boy’s team and that they can play this game and play it well.”
After the girls finished their shootout game they were exuberant, recapping every moment of their time in the spotlight. Their joy for the game of hockey was evident on each of the 15 players' faces.
“It’s a great game and they love it,” Taylor said. “There is not another game where you can put a stick in a female’s hand and they’re gone. It’s the fastest game that a girl can play so it gives them that competitiveness; they love beating the boys. Hockey gives them the opportunity to go out there and win and succeed.”