All-girl peewee hockey team competes at international meet in Quebec City
Quebec's all-star team of 19, chosen from among 200 girl players, shuts out boys' team in exhibition match
For the first time, an all-star team of girls from across Quebec is playing against boys and mixed teams at the International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament in Quebec City – the biggest minor-league hockey event in the world.The team, Équipe Québec Féminin, played its first exhibition game on Thursday.It was the girls' first time playing as a team, and they shut out an all-boys team, the Doritos from Connecticut, 3-0."I think we all played really well," said 12-year-old Morgan Skoda after that game. "Some of us didn't even know each other until today, so I think we did a good job."
Skoda is one of 19 Quebec girls aged 12 and under chosen for the team. "It's an honour, really, to play on this team and for everyone to be on it," said Skoda. "I think it's something special.""I just wanted to come out fired up," said Doritos' player Riley Shaw after his team's defeat. "It doesn't matter, girls or boys, really."
Head coach Todd Carroll said the boys didn't know they were playing a girls team until they arrived at the rink."It was definitely a surprise, but [they are a] very well coached and very good team," Carroll said. "Great competition, very impressed with that group of girls."
'Very best talent'
The all-star girls are coached by three Olympic gold medalists in hockey — Caroline Ouellette, Marie-Philip Poulin and Kim St-Pierre. The girls were picked at an all-girls hockey tournament in December, run by Caroline Ouellette. Ouellette said they evaluated more than 200 players on 11 teams to whittle their choices down to 19 players. "We tried to identify the very best, the very best talent," Ouellette said. This is the third time an all-girls team is playing at the annual peewee tournament, but it's the first time a team from Quebec has taken part.
For Lyanne St-Amour, who's been playing since she was 4, it's a big deal. "There's not enough opportunity to play hockey and be part of something big," she said. High hopes for women's hockey she'd like to play in a major women's league some day. "I know it's kind of unrealistic, but you know how there's the NHL?' St-Amour asks. "Maybe something like that, for girls. I really want something big for girls." St-Amour plays on a boys' team at home, and she says she feels generally more respected on this team. Her coaches also see this as an important step for girls' hockey.
"I think it's awesome to see the quality of hockey that we can actually play, and I don't know if people realize that," Marie-Philip Poulin said. She would like to see a girls-only tournament one day. Tonight her All-Stars play the New York Americans, coached by former New York Rangers Mark Messier and Mike Richter. Messier watched one period of the girls game on Thursday night. "I'm a big fan of women's hockey," he said, adding his team has a female goalie. "We know we're in for a tough game."
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