And then there were eight.
The long awaited official word came as BOE meeting in Niagara Wheatfield, Starpoint and North Tonawanda saw all three district superintendents officially sign the needed paper work that will see all three districts form a merged team that will compete in the Western New York Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation this coming season.
The Niagara County team becomes the eighth and first true expansion team in the girls Fed, which began in 2010-11.
Like the girls and parents who championed the movement to get the Girls Fed off the ground, the Niagara County girls and their parents attended their district BOE meetings pleading their case to have a team. Just like the boys have.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster in my opinion because they’ve listened to us, ” said Natalie O’Brien, a Starpoint sophomore.
“To hear our opinion. Hear what we want and they made it happen for us.”
A natural fit for the Girls Fed, Niagara County is a strong hockey area with plenty of talent. With venues like Hockey Outlet, Cornerstone and Dwyer Arena in the area finding a home rink will not be an issue.
Wheatfield and Starpont got the ball rolling to form a Niagara County squad. Initially it looked as if Wilson, Lockport or Lewiston-Porter would be that third team. NT wasn’t even on the radar as athletic director Jeff Alger felt there wouldn’t be enough interest. But at the urging of students Bella Finley, Katie Cipolla and Lauren Painter a sign up sheet was posted. When that sheet was filled with names by the end of the day it was clear that Lady Jacks wanted to play hockey.
Niagara County will join Kenmore/Grand Island, Clarence/Amherst/Sweet Home, Williamsville, Monsignor Martin, Lancaster/Iroquois/Depew, Hamburg/Eden/West Seneca and 2018 NYSPHSAA champion Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park.
“I think when the girls get the publicity that they have gotten in the newspaper and on social media i think that helps and it just gets the ball rolling for other parents and other girls in other school districts to say hey I wanna play for my school,” said FLOP head coach Bob Klimowicz.
girls ice hockey
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