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Young hockey players in Sackville, N.B., make history with town's first all-female minor team


The overall game of hockey is the same, with a focus on speed, skill and teamwork. But one hockey team in Sackville, N.B., is made up of trailblazers.

Introducing its first-ever all-female minor hockey league team in the community, the Sackville Sirens are making history in the small town.

“It’s [more fun] to play with the girls because they make it fun,” said team captain Joey Jane Paynter. “They’re all there for you, always.”

The roster is made up of 14 girls and they all play on co-ed hockey teams as well.

Coach Nathan Phinney says the number of kids playing sports hasn’t really grown locally, so it’s important that this new team doesn’t take away from minor hockey in Sackville, but instead, add another option for female athletes.

“This is kind of a side pilot project off to the side, you know. If it works, we want to continue to evolve it and hopefully it’ll take off and get some more young girls out there that want to get involved in the game,” he said.

While the girls all have multiple commitments and teams, there’s just something different about a team full of girl power.

“I’m a little bit closer with the girls than the boys because we have more in common and it’s a lot better, I like it more,” said left wing, Rachel Coombs, who has been playing hockey since she was five.

“I think it’s pretty important because not a lot of girls play hockey, but now a lot more girls are starting to play a lot more hockey."

Phinney has been coaching for 20 years and says having an all-girls team brings a different energy to the ice.

“They excel and they play hard with the boys, but the dynamics in the changing rooms and just the way they interact is a little bit different on a co-ed team and really, to walk in a dressing room now when it’s all girls and hear the chatter and hear the comradery and it’s really something to hear,” he said.

“It’s like they’ve opened up, they’ve come out of their shell, they can be who they need to be.”

Bringing an all-female minor hockey team to the community was a team effort and he says the Sirens have seen support from parents, businesses and other female hockey teams since starting up.

“It was a vison that I’ve really got to give credit to my wife. She’s a really big advocate for girls in sports and she herself played sports all through growing up," he said.

"And, you know, when we started looking at this, what it takes is a community to get behind it and I know you go and interview in any community and they’re all going to say they have the best community. But I’d argue that we have the best one here in Sackville.”

As for the players, they say they’re improving their game and their relationships.

“I think it’s great because I’m one of the older girls and I think the littler ones look up to me a little bit more and I really like it,” said Coombs.

Paynter says she’s made a lot of friends this year and being on an all-girls team makes the dressing room more fun too.

“It’s pretty awesome,” she said. “I hope I can play on it next year too because I want to meet the younger girls when they come up.”

Right now, the Sirens are preparing for an all-girls tournament in Dieppe, N.B., in two weeks to wrap up their season, but there are plans to continue to grow the all-female team next year.

“You don’t do things like this for your own personal, you want to see the success and reason why it’s there and just to watch the smile and the cheer on these girls faces, it makes it all worth it,” said Phinney. Top Stories

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