Creating Opportunities For Girls Hockey

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There’s a new push in the Sioux Falls area to create more opportunities for girls interested in getting on the ice and playing hockey. 

Members of local clubs are launching a new group known as the Prairie Region Girls Hockey Foundation. 

From lighting the lamp, to gliding over the ice, Lincoln sophomore Chloe Harbaugh is an all-around fan of the sport of hockey. 

Matt Holsen: What do you like about hockey?

Harbaugh: Everything. Going on the ice, skating around. You can feel the breeze going at you. During the games, if you score, just that rush of excitement. I love everything about it.

The forward for the Sioux Falls Flyers is sharing her passion in hopes of inspiring other girls to lace up some skates and join in.  

“I think that a lot of girls don’t think about it but I think they should. It’s such a good environment and there’s so many other girls here with you. I feel like once you get into it, you never want to leave,” Harbaugh said. 

A new group named the Prairie Region Girls Hockey Foundation is being formed to spread the word about hockey and create more opportunities for girls who might be on the fence. Erica Bukovich has two girls who play. She remembers when her 11-year-old daughter Cora started four years ago.  

“My husband played hockey. I needed a 15-point list to get them dressed the first time. But now I feel like I’m a pro. Had a lot of help from other hockey families right away that just embraced us and helped us and welcomed us to the sport,” Erica said. 

Erica is a board member for the foundation. Its first event is coming up in September on International Girls Hockey Weekend. The goal is to provide on and off the ice activities for girls with no experience as well as others who play regularly. 

“You know sometimes hockey can seem like an intimidating sport to break into. We have equipment and we really want to welcome anyone who wants to have their daughter try the sport. This would be a great weekend to see some hockey in action and also experience it yourself,” Erica said. 

Cora is signed up to attend. Girls whose families pay the $25 registration fee can also bring a friend for free. 

“It’s a great opportunity to be physically active and also meet new friends,” Cora said. 

Whether you just want to fill some time with a fun sport or are looking to skate for a long time, this future Edison student says it’s worth a try. She has big dreams when it comes to hockey. 

“If I could get to the NHL, that would be wonderful and playing college, that would be amazing. I’m just trying to take goal by goal by goal to get to the big goal, NHL,” Cora said. 

But she needs competition. Eric Covrig is a founding member of the foundation. He says girls are interested but for some reason they slip through cracks. 

“We’re seeing girls come to hockey but we’re seeing them leave or we’re seeing them come but not quite jump in and get involved,” Covrig said.

Covrig has coached hockey for six years and has a daughter who plays. He says several clubs are behind the foundation including the Flyers, the Brandon Valley IceCats, Legends Hockey, South Dakota Selects Hockey and Rhino Hockey. He hopes the group brings out girls who have never been on the ice and might be busy with other activities.  

“So we want to show them that you can still have an experience with hockey and still enjoy the sport, even if it’s not your primary sport,” Covrig said. 

Prairie Region Girls Hockey Foundation has already landed several sponsors and is looking for more. Harbaugh says the idea is great for the community. 

“There’s all this stuff for boys. Now there’s finally something for girls that girls can get involved. It’s for any age for girls so that’s like amazing because younger girls can look up to the older girls and older girls can look down, ‘remember when we used to be that age skating?’ I think it’s a great opportunity for everyone here,” Harbaugh said. 

There are currently more than 40 girls registered for the upcoming Girls Hockey Weekend at the Scheels IcePlex on Sept. 28 and 29. Organizers are hoping for 100. Right now, the event has players coming in from six clubs in three states. 

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