A hockey forum in Membertou, N.S., will help develop the game and increase diversity in the sport, according to organizers.
The Future of Hockey Forum aims to address barriers to playing the sport, highlight the growth of women’s hockey and also increase diversity on teams.
The Oct. 2 meeting will take place after weekend events in Sydney when community members will come together to celebrate winning the Kraft Hockeyville competition in 2022.
Speakers will include representatives from Hockey Canada, women’s hockey, former players and other interested groups.
“It’s really bringing together an incredible cross-section of people who have been working in the past,” said Christina Lamey, president of the Cape Breton Blizzard Female Hockey Association. “Making the game more inclusive, making the game more diverse and accessible.”
Blizzard Hockey won $250,000 from Kraft after coming first in a national vote for communities trying to bring more players to the sport. The group is using that money, along with $8.2 million from the provincial government, to make the Canada Games Complex at Cape Breton University (CBU) a hub for women’s hockey in the region.
The complex was built to host the 1987 Canada Winter Games, but the aging building needed renovations to accommodate hockey.
Lamey says the convention will take place at a time when the sport has a lot of momentum.
“So one of the reasons that we’re having this here and having this now is because the construction of the new arena facility at CBU being the first home-ice facility for girls and women’s hockey in the country,” she said. “Talk about turning an idea into action.”
Lamey said the theme of the conference will be changing the bricks and mortar of the game and making hockey accessible to everyone. She said the foundation of the sport is changing, thanks to the recent success of the newly announced Provincial Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) and support for women’s sport around the globe.
With the renovated Canada Games Centre being the home for female hockey, and sledge hockey, Lamey said Cape Breton is becoming a place to envy in the hockey world.
Those overseeing the changes at CBU say being involved in the transformation of the rink is good for the community, but also helps the sport grow.
“That’s going to be a real opportunity for us to look into the future and bring more activity,” said Steve Horne, manager of recreation, sport and special projects at CBU. “Grow the sport with people that may not have had that opportunity before.”
Speakers at the forum will include Canadian women’s ice hockey team superstar Cassie Campbell-Pascall and former Calgary Flames defenceman Andrew Ference.
Lamey said details about tickets linked to the forum and Kraft Hockeyville events will be posted in the coming days. The winning Hockeyville community also gets to host a pre-season NHL game. In Sydney’s case, the Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators will play Oct. 1 at the city’s Centre 200.