It was a banner year for Hockey Brandon’s female teams this season, and one the organization hopes to build on.
Three squads took home provincial titles this season — the Atom Yellow Jackets and the Peewee Wheat Kings won their respective A/B championships, while the Midget Wheat Kings won the C/D title — as well as a bronze medal in the Bantam A/B division.
Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets and the Peewee Mar-Dee Rebels won their respective Rural Manitoba Female Hockey League titles as well.
Myles Hubbard, Hockey Brandon’s female director, can’t recall the last time Brandon girls teams won provincial A championships, and he was happy to see some finally come to the Wheat City.
"We’ve never had that kind of luck before," he said. "There’s been a lot of people working a real long time on this. I’m not too sure the reason why we had the success this year, but we’re definitely going to try to build on this."
The biggest issue Hockey Brandon has faced with its female hockey program over the last couple years has been registration numbers.
They’ve consistently hovered around 15 to 20 players in each age group, which is high for one team but low for two.
The organization’s goal is to have at least two teams in each age group, but it fell short this season with a pair of peewee teams, but only one in the atom and bantam age divisions.
Hubbard, who wants to take advantage of the exposure from Canada’s Olympic gold medal in women’s hockey and Brandon’s success this year, is hoping a new approach next season will increase those numbers in the future.
For the last seven or eight seasons, Hockey Brandon has put on girls’ camps, but next season it’s also creating a new league. It will run one day per week during the winter and will target new players between the ages of four and eight.
Hubbard hopes the league, which he said will be kept affordable, will hopefully encourage parents who are hesitant to let their daughters play hockey try it in a format that isn’t too competitive or expensive.
"For one day a week they’ll be able to just play hockey and it might help with the fears parents have or that their daughters may not like hockey," he said.
"But I guarantee you, once they start hockey, they’ll love the game. Thousands of people already do."