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Opportunity knocking for female hockey players in Western Newfoundland: coach

Western Warriors AAA female hockey team coach Colin Carroll believes female hockey players can find their way to a higher level of hockey that includes an education at Canadian and American colleges and universities.
Western Warriors AAA female hockey team coach Colin Carroll believes female hockey players can find their way to a higher level of hockey that includes an education at Canadian and American colleges and universities. - Dave Kearsey

Colin Carroll expects to see more female hockey players embrace opportunities to play the game at the college or university level as the numbers continue to grow.

Carroll is getting ready to prepare his Western Warriors female hockey team for defence of its provincial AAA female midget hockey crown and it all starts with training camp next month in Corner Brook.

He has seen a steady flow of female players from his province earn scholarships to play a higher level of hockey outside the province at the Canadian or American college level for a number of years so he believes female hockey is strong.

He believes females who play at the AAA level or play for provincial age-group teams seem to be the ones who are earning the attention so he expects high numbers for the Warriors training camp this year.

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Players on provincial teams participate in the Atlantic Challenge Cup in Moncton on an annual basis and this stage has proven to be a grooming ground for coaches looking for skilled female hockey players to fill out their roster.

“Every time you go outside the province to play at these events you’re being looked at by schools from the United States and Canada,” Carroll said.

A sign of the growth in the female game, he said, is Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador’s vision to introduce a provincial AAA peewee female hockey setup for the 2018-2019 season.

“That shows that the number of young females joining hockey is growing and that’s going to provide opportunity to improve the talent level here in the province,” he said. “Having these triple A leagues provides an opportunity for these girls to play at a bit of a higher level than their regular house league and it prepares them to play outside of the province or it prepares them to play at a level that it’s comparable to the provincial team level.”

While he believes playing in showcase tournaments provides players with a chance to impress those recruiting players, he used former Warriors sniper Jolena Gillard — a recent recruit of the University of Prince Edward Panthers female hockey team — as an example of a player who played all of her hockey in her native province but has found her way on a bigger stage this season in the Atlantic University Sport women’s hockey league.

“So that shows the kids in this province they don’t have to leave to get an opportunity to play elsewhere,” he said.

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