Hockey Canada
East Kootenay
North Central
North West
Pacific Coast
Peace River
West Kootenay
BC Hockey Logo



With the Whistler Female U15 Winterhawks facing the North Shore Female U15 Winterhawks, it’s a given the Winterhawks will come out as winners. But the true victor in this scenario will be Whistler Minor Hockey and female hockey, as a whole.

Coach Jeremy Robb’s Whistler C1 team was selected to play host to British Columbia’s entry into the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Global Girls’ Game, an international event celebrating the girl’s game and happening globally. Teams from across the world will be divided into Team Blue and Team White with scores tabulated internationally.

Robb applied to be a host at the start of the 2023-24 season and was selected by Hockey Canada.

“The girls were besides themselves when we told them about it. Everyone is pretty stoked,” Robb said of the game, set for Feb. 17 at 10:15 a.m. at Meadow Park Sports Centre.

Robb was shocked when his team was selected and, quite honestly, couldn’t even recall what the event was when he heard word from Hockey Canada.

“To be honest, everything that comes across my desk for these girls I apply for it,” he said with a chuckle. “We’re a small hockey community so we try and overdo it as much as we can for these girls. They’re an awesome team, a fun bunch of kids and they really love hockey. It’s an amazing thing to see, because we’re such a young association as far as female hockey goes.

“Ever since this program started five years ago, we’ve done a really good job with our parent group. When Canada plays the U.S. (in women’s hockey) in Vancouver, we get tickets, and we play in female hockey tournaments. They (his players) all support their teams now in the PWHL (Professional Women’s Hockey League). They’re excited and a lot of these girls have dreams of being hockey players.”

The chance to show the remainder of Canada that Whistler exists as a hockey hot spot is also exciting for them, stressed Robb, who has coached this group for all five years. In fact, his group started female hockey in Whistler.

“There are now 51 girls in Whistler Minor Hockey; younger sisters and girls watching these girls play their games. They’re getting the bug and trying it,” Robb said proudly. “We’re finding more girls playing and not leaving hockey after U13, which is very cool.” 

The Whistler Winterhawks compete against opponents from Chilliwack, Burnaby, Langley and Vancouver.

“We’re on the road quite a bit,” Robb said of his team’s hockey life. “Our division is kind of here, there and everywhere. Our furthest trip is Chilliwack and the closest is Vancouver Female, so car rides and country music is what it’s about.

“Typically for a game I’ll have three or four of my daughter’s teammates in the car and it’s loud all the way there and all the way back. They have a lot of fun.”

Robb chose the North Shore Winterhawks as an opponent because of close relationships and team friendships.

“We played a couple exhibition games at the start of the year and a lot of the girls know each other, so we reached out to them as the opponent,” said Robb. “They’re in a division ahead of us in the gold division. We just won the banner for our division and they won the banner for their division, so it should be pretty cool. It should be an exciting game.

“Winterhawks versus Winterhawks - it should also save us money on advertising,” he added with a laugh.

But, in all seriousness, he knows what this means to his group and the province.

“We’re a new association and we’re trying for a few different things in the next few years for growth in the competitive side of hockey in the Sea-to-Sky corridor. We’re trying to combine with Squamish, where we have six or seven girls, and then we have a few girls from Pemberton,” explained Robb.

“We’re trying to create a program where we get the most competitive girls all together and maybe have a rep-level program and still be supported by all the other girls in the house program. We’re doing our best to grow the sport here.

“We’re restricted, like everyone else, in that there’s not enough ice. It’s a good group of people here and these kids love hockey, so we’re trying to give them what we can as far as bigger and better is concerned.”

Bella Fruehwirth is a 15-year-old defender on the Whistler Winterhawks team and vouches for that.

“We’re having a good year, that’s for sure. I’ve grown a lot in the sport, with the help of my coaches and I just generally got a lot better, in my opinion,” she said if her own personal experience with the team, that has been together for the handful of seasons.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking and I’m a little nervous about it. But I’m proud to be a part of it,” she added of the Global Girls’ game.

Kiana Watson is the head coach of the North Shore Female U15 C1 Winterhawks and she looks forward to the big game.

“I think, for our girls, it means a lot to them because it’s a game where they will be recognized for all the work they’ve put in,” said Watson. “Especially considering the new women’s professional league that’s come through. A lot of them have been raving about it and say they want to be a part of it and achieve that.

“None of them used to say that because they didn’t have a pro league to look up to. Now, as soon as we found out we get to play in the Global Girls’ game, they were all so excited. We hadn’t even explained the details to them. They just felt like it was their equivalent of an opportunity at this age, until they get further down the line in hockey. So, they’re really excited to be a part of it.”

These types of opportunities are growing for young girls and both teams are proud to be a part of celebrating girls in hockey with one game around the world, agreed Watson and Robb.

The IIHF Global Girls’ Game originated in 2015, a unique event that was created to unite the hockey community by having players from around the globe all playing in the same game.

Mario Annicchiarico is a freelance writer based in Victoria who has previously covered the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers, as well as the Western Hockey League.