Judging from the number of female athletes zipping around the ice at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace, you'd be safe in saying that more young girls in the area are deciding to pick up a hockey stick.
CeeBees' minor hockey is currently enjoying one - if not its best - season for girls' hockey in its history.
With over 60 young athletes registered in four divisions, the program can boast that it is the flagship association in the area.
"We've been a long while trying to grow girls' hockey, not just us but across Newfoundland," said CeeBees' minor president Wendy Penney. "It's great to see the girls involved."
It started when the late Craig Shute did the first Esso Fun Days, a program meant to be a fun day of hockey for the first time participant in the female game.
"Since then, we have just continued to grow," she said.
Penney praised the work of the people involved with promoting and fostering the growth of girls' hockey. People like Bud Chafe, Zoe Anderson and Nancy Pike, the current female rep on the executive.
"Nancy is really involved and wants to see the program grow," said the president.
Due to the growth of the female game in the association, certain changes had to be made to accommodate the increasing numbers.
"We were dealing with new issues like female-only dressing rooms, before when we had lower numbers, we could integrate them with the boys and try to get them separated that way," said Penney.
With the expansion of the program, the CeeBees' executive made the decision to designate a dressing room as female-only.
"You've got 12, 13 and 14-year-olds, and they deserve a dressing room," said Penney. "They don't want to have to mix."
There are many factors that could be behind the rise in female numbers in the association. Being friends with a player who is playing is probably one of the reasons, stated Penney.
"I think that some girls joined and then their friends saw them having fun playing hockey and saw that it was something they could do," she said. "So, they just came on board."
According to Penney, the under-15 group is really "a group of friends."
"One joined, then another one joined, and now there is probably a group of five or six who are friends," she said. "I've spoken to them up at the arena, and they're really enjoying it."
The younger athletes were registered by their parents, and instead of putting them in with the boys' group, which could be a bit rough. The girls' division has reaped the benefits.
"There are at least 32 players in our under-12 division," said Penney.
That is enough for the association to have two teams in the under-12 division.
Keeping the girls interested
A problem that many associations have when it comes to female hockey is keeping them interested as they advance in age.
For all of the great things it is doing at the lower levels and age groups, Harbour Grace only has three athletes in the under-20 age group. They play out of Whitbourne with athletes from that association and the Bay Arena.
Penney surmises that the drop-off in numbers as the athletes get older happens not necessarily because of a lack of interest but a lack of hockey opportunity.
"A lot of the girls are in university and don't come out on weekends and some move on to different things," she said.
While the association does not boast large numbers in the oldest age group, it does have a large number of younger athletes and that includes the under-9 division.
The association held an under-9 jamboree as a apart of the Craig Shute Memorial Girls' under-12 tournament this past weekend.
"We don't have to do it, but we want to keep the girls interested," said Penney.