ANTIGONISH: All indications are that those playing female hockey in the local area will be doing so in their own zone, the Quad County Zone, when they lace their skates next fall.
“In principle, we’ve approved the zone,” said Stephen Murray, Female Council Chair for Hockey Nova Scotia.
Murray and other members of Hockey Nova Scotia met with representatives from the Antigonish Minor Hockey Association (AMHA), the Cape Breton West Minor Hockey (CBWMHA), the Strait-Richmond Minor Hockey Association (SRMHA), and the AMHA Female Hockey Committee on March 19 at St. Andrew Junior School in Antigonish. The meeting was to discuss the creation of a seventh Female Hockey Zone in Nova Scotia, this one encompassing the counties of Antigonish, Guysborough, Richmond, and Inverness as well as some of Victoria County.
As Murray indicated, the new zone has a provisional green light from Hockey Nova Scotia, but a formal agreement still has to be signed.
The agreement was in the process of being drafted when Murray spoke to The Reporter last Thursday. When the document is written, it will be advanced to the presidents of the local minor hockey associations to be signed.
“When we left the meeting, everybody was in agreement in principle as to how female hockey will be operated,” Murray said.
“We think the zone geographically has some benefits, and we think from the number of players they submitted to us, it’s sustainable,” he said. “We think the new zone will have a minimal effect on the two current zones when we re-divide them. We’ll be looking for them to set up their own executive committee with their own chair and vice chair.”
The first year will be a probationary period with the Hockey Nova Scotia Female Council overseeing things to make sure the zone falls in the guidelines of the other female zones. So long as everything runs according to play, the new zone has a chance to increase female hockey in the area, Murray said.
The Cape Breton Zone and the Fundy Highland Zone are being affected, but not in a way that’s a “deal-breaker” for either of them, Murray said.
The Cape Breton Zone currently takes in Cape Breton West to the Canso Causeway, but it will be restructured to take in Industrial Cape Breton. The Fundy Highland zone included Antigonish, but it will be restructured to run from Pictou to Colchester to the New Brunswick boarder.
“By moving Cape Breton West out of Industrial Cape Breton, there’s a net loss of one hockey player next year,” Murray said. “In Fundy Highland, there were 14 kids playing at the AA level who would have been in the Pictou/Colchester area, so that’s a big larger effect.
“They have to do some restructuring, but they said that wouldn’t be a deal breaker in terms of getting teams on the ice.”
The 15 girls playing outside of the quad counties catchment area have the opportunity next year to play in either the quad county zone or their original zone.
“All minor hockey presidents are in support of the new zone being approved,” Murray said. “We’ll never get 100 percent buy-in from the hockey world, but from what I’ve been told, there is support from the minor hockey associations and from the people who’ll be establishing the product.”
A new name and brand will be chosen for the Quad County teams.