The Cape Breton West Atom Female A Islanders celebrated a banner-filled 2017-18 season that included a provincial championship, during a banner-signing get-together recently. Female hockey in Inverness County will have its own association next season that will include Antigonish, Canso and Strait-Richmond.
-by Bill Dunphy
The addition of a new female hockey zone by Hockey Nova Scotia seems to have appeased the opponents of the initial plan to create six provincial hockey associations dedicated solely to female hockey.
HNS announced on Monday that beginning during the 2018-19 season, the Quad Counties Female Hockey Zone will welcome female hockey players from the Guysborough area, Antigonish, Strait-Richmond, and Inverness County. Earlier this year, minor hockey associations in Cape Breton West, Antigonish, Strait-Richmond, and Canso signed an agreement fully supporting the creation of the Quad Counties Female Hockey Zone.
The new zone will be guided by an executive committee that will be responsible for the administration of female hockey in the area.
“We believe that the creation of the seventh female hockey zone is a logical next step in the female hockey governance restructuring process that we have been working on over the last few years,” said Stephen Murray, chair of Hockey Nova Scotia's Female Council. “We look forward to working with the new zone committee to continue to grow the female game in the Quad Counties area.”
When the plan to create six female hockey zones was first announced, there was an immediate and vocal backlash from Antigonish and Cape Breton West.
Antigonish was originally designated to be part of the Fundy-Highland zone, meaning they would be tied to minor hockey associations in Pictou County and Truro; while Strait-Richmond and Inverness would end up supplying AA calibre players to teams in the Sydney and Glace Bay areas.
“It was a unanimous decision to form a seventh zone with Antigonish,” said Lewis MacLellan, a female hockey representative with the Cape Breton West MHA. “It’s still in the early stages, but it’s a natural fit. The success of the Major Midget program set the path up for us.”
MacLellan said all the MHAs in the Quad Counties Female Hockey Zone will still maintain their own A teams. In the event of a AA team being formed, which Cape Breton West is contemplating for its Bantam Female team, then players from all the MHAs would be invited to try out.
“We’re keeping our A teams and they’re keeping their A teams. The only thing different would be at the higher levels,” said MacLellan. “It will all be on a case by case basis. Each year would be different, but there was a lot of interest to have that option.”
The next step, MacLellan said, is to form an executive committee for the Quad Counties FHZ. He said Cape Breton West’s representation would be decided at the annual general meeting scheduled for June 13.
Representatives from all the MHAs would then get together at a later date to set up the organization’s executive committee.
In 2015, Hockey Nova Scotia’s Female Council regionalized the female game by creating new executive committees in six geographical zones across Nova Scotia. This change was positive both on and off the ice as it improved competition as well as governance, according to an HNS press release.
Since that time, three of the six zones (Metro West, Metro East, and the Valley Wild) have become full-fledged Hockey Nova Scotia member associations solely focussed on female hockey.
As part of the agreement signed in March, the four MHAs in the Quad Counties have expressed their full support for the Quad Counties Zone becoming a Female Hockey Association in the near future.
“This is an exciting development for female hockey in the province and we are confident that female hockey players in the Quad Counties area will benefit as result,” Murray said.
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