By Ottawa Sports Pages, For Ottawa Girls Hockey Association
It’s been a year-and-a-half since COVID cut off the end of the 2019-2020 hockey season, but the momentum and enthusiasm for girls’ hockey has stayed as strong as ever, if not surged farther forward.
“The shutdown has definitely made everyone that much more hungry for hockey,” signals Marc Lugert, the Director of Marketing & Programs for the Ottawa Girls Hockey Association. “With COVID-19 protocols in place and medical professionals among our staff, we are hoping for a more ‘regular’ season for 2021-22.”
Tryouts have already begun for OGHA competitive teams, and the association is experiencing a record-breaking year for overall membership levels.
The increased numbers are most stark among the youngest age groups. Though it only begins in January, the Bauer and NHL-sponsored First Shift program is already sold out.
The program supplies equipment for players who have never played hockey before, making the program especially appealing for newcomers to Canada or anyone who might be hesitant about getting started in the sport.
The OGHA’s Fundamentals program has also seen a large spike in registrations. The learn to play program for girls aged 4 to 6 is led by a talented all-female cast of OGHA coaches.
“That’s a really great sign for the future of the game,” underlines Lugert. “When you look at our young girls taking up the sport, you see their enthusiasm and the fun they’re having on the ice, the big smiles they have, and their parents too. It’s really special to see.”
House League hockey will also return this season, with opportunities available at the U9 through U18 age groups. The OGHA will continue to partner with Kanata and Gloucester to form the Metro Ottawa Girls House League, featuring teams from all three local associations.
“It’s more interesting for the players,” Lugert highlights. “But for the parents, they don’t have to travel an hour or more to play a house league game farther in the region. It makes much more sense to be more localized.”
House league families will also be pleased to learn that the OGHA has eliminated the need for tongue-twisting cheers – OGHA house league teams will now all be known as the Ottawa Ice (the name previously reserved for competitive teams).
“It’s easier for the parents to shout in the stands ‘Go Ice Go!’” Lugert explains. “With house league, it was always a problem with what they were going to call the teams because they didn’t have a team name. So they were always saying ‘Go OGHA Go!’, which was always a little weird.”
On the competitive side, the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association will be organizing league play this season for the U11, U13, U15 & U18 age groups. Tournaments will likely return this year, though it’s unclear whether play between regions will be permitted.
There are some exciting changes coming for the Ottawa Lady 67’s Junior (under-22) program this season, starting with the addition of Shannon Donnelly as the new Head Coach.
The lifelong goalie finished her NCAA career with the Neumann University Knights as her school’s all-time leader in wins, games played and goals-against-average, serving as captain and leader in her junior and senior years.
The Business Administration grad then returned home and began her coaching career with the CIH Hockey Academy, Nepean and the OGHA, leading ‘AA’ teams.
Assisted by Jessica Schroeder and Nikk Blazenko, Shannon holds her High Performance 1 coaching certification.
Visit ogha.org to learn more and to register for the upcoming season.