Ice Dragons ready for long game

Penticton atom Ice Dragons ready to compete in long game as part of Hockey Canada's World Girls' Hockey Weekend



Hannah Musgrave is excited to begin her minor hockey career on Saturday.

While it’s her first time playing on the ice, she has played before with her brother Jay at home and loved it. Now, she’s ready to do it with the Penticton atom Ice Dragons in the Long Game at 3 p.m. at Memorial Arena that will be played coast to coast from Botwood and St. John’s, Nfld. to Campbell River, B.C. The game is part of the fifth annual World Girls’ Hockey weekend Oct. 9 to 11. When her coach Andy Oakes told her what it was about she said “cool.” Musgrave also plans on trying to score.

When asked if she’s a good goal scorer, Musgrave said, “I don’t know yet.” What she does know is she isn’t playing as a defenceman, a position she doesn’t like.

“Because defence is too hard,” said Musgrave, who is very slick with the stick.

The World Girls’ Hockey Weekend was created when the International Ice Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada teamed up to celebrate the female game and as the Hockey Canada website states, to unite Canadians in growing women’s hockey, and provide grassroots programming from coast to coast that allows girls and women of all ages to discover the sport, grow their skills and enjoy everything from lacing up skates and stepping onto the ice. The female side has grown over the last 25 years and they want to keep that going with nearly 100,000 girls registered.

“World Girls’ Hockey Weekend really is for everyone – we want current and former players, coaches, and officials who have helped grow women’s hockey to feel celebrated, but we also want to use it to introduce the game to new girls of all ages so they can experience the fun, the comradery, and the great lessons and life skills you develop from playing this great game,” said Mandi Duhamel, manager of female development, Hockey Canada in a release. “This is a global initiative, but Canada has embraced it and made it our own to create local community celebrations to reach as many people as we can.”

The Long Game will begin at 9:30 a.m. EST and finishes at 8 p.m. in B.C. and has Team Red vs. Team White in atom, peewee, bantam, midget, and senior games in a cumulative score series of 55 games nationwide.

Oakes said his players don’t fully understand what is taking place Saturday, but it’s a game which excites them. To Oakes, the president of the Okanagan Hockey Group, any time media attention and awareness can be brought to the female game, it’s a great thing.

“For a lot of these girls it’s about building self confidence and feeling good about themselves,” he said. “Being a part of a team. To be able to make it a national festivity, it’s important for them.”

Oakes said it will be interesting to see how the Long Game takes off in different communities.

“I know people around here are excited about it. Not sure how the coaches are going to handle going in to scores that are like 50-45 already,” he joked.

Their day begins with a barbecue fundraiser at Marketplace IGA, which they are using funds for travel to tournaments and other team functions.

When it comes to the growth of female hockey in Penticton, he said the community is fortunate. There are good people such as female director Barb Main and her volunteers that have done good work. The group that he works with started with  nine players and now they have 38 atom and novice players between ages five and 12.

One of those players is Kailey Wrigglesworth, who is starting her second season. Wrigglesworth loves everything about hockey, except for playing goal.

“I just let them score on me because I was tired,” she said.

Her favourite part of hockey is shooting as she likes to score. Wrigglesworth did score, in the final game of the season.