Suburban Ice in Farmington Hills was home to the first all-girls house hockey league in Michigan. The support the rink provided to the growth of the girls' game helped lead a change in that distinction three years ago.
Now girls from the Detroit area have multiple ranks at which to play and many more teams that play on the house level of competition within the Little Caesars Michigan Girls Hockey League.
With other local rinks to compete against, the programs at the Suburban Ice Farmington Hills continue to thrive.
A total of 268 girls and women play hockey in Suburban Ice Farmington Hills programs, with 12 in a girls learn-to-play program, 61 in a women’s beginner league and the rest on various age group teams in between.
Suburban Ice has 10U, 14U and 16U Tier III teams playing under various names; 10U, 12U and 14U teams operating under the name of the Michigan Icebreakers; and a high school club team known as the Wild. It is also the home of the highly regarded HoneyBaked AAA teams that compete on the 12U, 14U, 16U and 19U levels of girls’ hockey.
While the best girls’ players at the rink eventually tend to find spots on the HoneyBaked team, Suburban Ice assistant manager/hockey director Cal McGowan said the rink doesn’t necessarily push that idea for its younger players. Rather, the goal is mostly to help the girls develop an interest in the sport.
“I think we’re talking with younger girls and a lot of non-traditional families, I don’t think they get in with the idea that ‘I’m going to be a HoneyBaked player,’” McGowan said. “But then, as they get in for a year or two, you start to see interest from some girls who take to the sport as more than just casual exercise. Then, they aspire to it.
“I don’t think that’s the draw at the youngest age level.”
The key, according to McGowan, is making the sport fun and attractive before higher-level competition becomes the goal.
“I think it’s our job to provide that atmosphere and cultivate their love for the game to where they could eventually have the chance to play at the higher girls’ levels if they choose to do so later on in their careers,” he said. “Triple-A doesn’t start until 12.”
During the time it featured the state’s only girls’ house league hockey, Suburban Ice Farmington Hills promoted the concepts of no tryouts, no cuts, the chance to play with friends and “no boys.”
The girls learn-to-play program is in its third season and maintains some of those concepts, giving it a distinct appeal to young girls while they decide if they like the sport.
“We used to do it with the boys, but it’s girls-specific now, where they have their own sheet of ice and they wear their pink uniform,” McGowan said. “We have excellent coaches out there and they play ‘Frozen’ music and stuff like that to make it gender-specific for hockey while they are learning their skills and getting used to the ice.”
The girls’ learn-to-play offering is split into two sessions. The first session runs September to December.
“If they want to continue into the second session, from January to March, they can, but if they do not want to and choose to stop after the first session, that’s one way we make it cost-effective,” McGowan said. “It also gives a lot of girls who are playing soccer or other sports in the fall a chance to join in for the second session where we often have a little better numbers.”
With learn-to-play, three levels of girls’ teams at multiple age groups, plus seven girls playing co-ed mites hockey and six older girls playing on boys’ travel teams, McGowan said there are ways to find an appropriate place for every girl to play.
The Suburban Ice girls’ program has found success using different barometers.
The number of participants is healthy and the teams’ results are impressive.
The 10U Suburban Freeze won Suburban Ice Farmington Hills’ first state championship on the house level in 2013. In Little Caesars League play, the 12U Icebreakers team is undefeated on the Tier II level. The 10U Freeze team is in first place in Tier III. The 10U Icebreakers team is in second place in Tier II.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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QUESTION: An attacking player takes a shot on goal, which deflects off of a teammate in the attacking end-zone, and is redirected into the netting above the goal. Where is the ensuing face-off located?
ANSWER: While the initial shot was "on goal" in this situation, the face-off must be located in the neutral zone due to the fact that the puck did not redirect out of play off of the goal frame, boards or protective glass.
QUESTION: An attacking player takes a shot towards the goal, which is deflected by a teammate, and is redirected off of the goal frame and out of play. Where is the ensuing face-off?
ANSWER: The "spirit and intent" of Rule 612.c is to reward a close scoring play with an attacking end-zone face-off. In this case, the face-off should be located in the attacking zone since the initial shot and deflection struck the goal frame and directly left the playing surface.
QUESTION: Is there an acceptable time to be a 3rd man in, in an effort for player safety? If one player is on the ground, defenseless, is it acceptable for a 3rd player to try to stop the player throwing punches?
ANSWER: There is never an acceptable time for an additional player to enter a 1 on 1 altercation. In almost all cases, the game officials will enter the altercation as soon as the players fall to the ice or when things become unfair for one player. Additionally, an additional player entering an altercation would turn it into a 2 on 1 altercation which would be regarded as very unfair and dangerous for the opponent.
QUESTION: Hi, I’m looking for a business opportunity, and it is a foldable Hockey stick. Would this be legal in the rules or no?
ANSWER: Rule 301(a) in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states,
“The sticks shall be made of wood or other material approved by the Rules Committee, and must not have any projections.”
Since a “foldable” stick would likely have some type of hinge that would project from the natural shape of the stick shaft, this would unlikely be approved for use by the USAH Playing Rules Committee.
QUESTION: What penalty, if any, is called against a player who attacks his own teammate. The rule book deals with penalties against "an opponent or opposing player" but does not refer to infractions against one's own teammates. For arguments sake, the player slashes and injures a teammates with intent.
ANSWER: The USAH Playing Rules Casebook does have a situation under Rule 615 that deals with two teammates who fight during a game, but since the likelihood of a player slashing a teammate during a game is extremely rare this type of behavior would be left to the coach to deal with. Please note, the Playing Rules only apply to games. Any bad behavior in practice should be dealt with by the coach and team manager.
QUESTION: Helmets removed before during altercation/fight do players get the 5 minute penalty besides game/match? when don't 5 minute penalties accompany game misconduct/match penalties
ANSWER: If players remove their helmets prior to an altercation, they must be assessed a Match penalty in addition to any other penalties they earn during the altercation (Fighting, Roughing, etc.). In other words, the normal Fighting penalties would be assessed for the fight, but they must be assessed the additional Match for removing their helmets prior to the fight.
QUESTION: I have always wanted to be a Ice Hockey referee ever since I stopped playing sled hockey. I was wondering what the guidelines are in terms of someone who is disabled and can’t walk (I have a medical condition that does not allow me to walk and have any function from the waist down and have to use a wheelchair to move about) would this pose any challenges in terms of becoming a referee for able bodied Ice Hockey?
ANSWER: The USA Hockey Officiating Program and Risk Management Council would likely have some concerns about safety if an official were to use a sled in an Abled-Body game. That being said, it might be possible for you to pursue opportunities as a Sled Hockey Official (where everyone is in sleds). The obvious hurdles would be how you would maneuver around during play while signaling a “delayed penalty” (one arm straight in the air), how you would carry a whistle, and how you would blow a whistle with a full face-mask (we’re not certain you could wear a half-shield visor as an official during a sled game).
You could try reaching out to your USA Hockey District Risk Manager and see what they say. Contact information is listed in the USA Hockey Annual Guide which is available at USAHockey.com.
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