Yesterday was International Women’s Day. It was adopted by the United Nations in 1975 as a day to commemorate the movement for women’s rights, and celebrate women. It was fitting then that it also marked the start of the female hockey tournament at these 2018 Manitoba Games powered by Manitoba Hydro.
When it comes to female hockey, be it bantam or all the way to professional, a lot of people still knock it saying it’s boring and that it isn’t as exciting as men’s hockey. To that I say: they aren’t watching the same sport I am.
With men’s hockey it’s often this one thing that draws the love and ire from the crowd: physicality. They cheer when their player lands a big hit, and boo when their player gets hit. Let’s not forget about something that gets everyone on his or her feet: a fight. Often times, through no fault of the players, the focus shifts from the skill to the grit.
Enter female hockey, where there is no body checking and dropping the gloves is less common. The focus shifts to the skill and speed of the players. Don’t get me wrong, the game is still very physical. Anyone who thinks they can step on to the ice with a competitive girls’ hockey team and have a competitive game against them just because there is no body checking, would be very sorely mistaken. The girls competing to play in tomorrow’s gold medal game play as hard and as physical a game as the boys did earlier in the week, just without the hot hits.
The girls’ game focuses more on skill and speed. Having played hockey with and against girls, I can tell you for a fact most of them are faster than you are. If they aren’t faster, they’ll skate harder, and work smarter to make up for it. Don’t ever be fooled into thinking that because you’re a guy and have played hockey, or have followed it, you’re better or know more than the girls here at the Games. What makes watching girls hockey even more incredible is they are all playing for the love of the game.