Girls hockey in Burns Lake has come along way in the five years since the team was formed by Kim Dezamits and Monique Beach.
“When we first started with the girls we would get beat 20 to nothing,” said Beach, the Burns Lake Bruins girls assistant coach. “Now we’re second in the league.”
There are four girls teams on the Omenica Hockey schedule. The Burns Lake team members are all roughly the same age and form a ‘peewee midget’ team. With the players close in age the coaches are concerned that as current team members start to graduate and move away there won’t be enough girls to keep a team.
“Kim and I have tried to spearhead a younger team for two years now,” said Beach. “We’re worried about the future of girls hockey in Burns Lake.”
“Parents put their little girls in hockey on the boys team when the girls are younger,” Beach said. “The problem with this is that when hitting is introduced at the peewee level most of the girls quit playing because of intimidation.”
This was the problem that Dezamits, the head coach, faced when her daughters came up through the age groups.
“My girls quit playing with the boys once they got to the level where contact started,” she said. “I wanted them to continue so I recruited several of their friends and started the girls team.”
This isn’t to say that the girls can’t hang in there with the boys on a mixed team.
“We definitely have a few girls that do play contact with the boys though,” Dezamits added.
Jasmine Tom plays on a bruins mixed team, and she took a hard hit into the boards at a Nov. 3 game in Burns Lake that left her with a broken collarbone.
Tom will be back on the ice soon, but if girls who don’t want to be taking and giving hits are going to be able to find a place in the Burns Lake Minor Hockey Association, the girls team will need to recruit new players.
“Our biggest concern is to keep the girl’s hockey team going so we need younger girls to join,” said Dezamits. “We don’t want it to end with the group we have now who are all 14 or older. The greatest challenge is recruiting younger players.”
“The girls enjoy each other’s company and always root for each other. We don’t see or hear them putting each other down at all,” Dezamits said about her experience as head coach. “We always look forward to working with them. Our goal as coaches is to keep the girls involved in sports of all kinds and to focus on creating a positive environment to learn and to make mistakes.”
A model that would work well in Burns Lake could be something like what is happening in Fraser Lake.
“Fraser Lake, a smaller community than Burns Lake, has two teams, a young girls team and an older girls team,” said Beach. “That would be ideal for keeping a healthy girls program.”
But for that Burns Lake needs more players and maybe another coach.
“All it takes is one parent to step up and get some of their daughter’s friends interested,” said Dezamits.
Last Sunday the bruins girls had a tough game against Vanderhoof.
“We don’t normally get beat like this,” Dezamits said after Sunday’s loss. “We had a few girls down with the flu.”