Girl Power: Group of youth hockey players proving hockey isn’t just for the boys

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Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 8:01 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) - Among a sea of black helmets on the ice and at the rink, a group of pink helmets is turning heads.

“The kids love it,” Layne Martin, Peoria Youth Hockey coach, said. “It is great for our organization and it’s great for the game of hockey.”

Roughly 26 U-10 and younger girls hockey players have joined forces, playing on all-girls teams for Peoria Youth Hockey, an opportunity the players love.

“It’s fun because sometimes you get to meet new girls,” Katie Gerdes, 8, said.

“It’s fun because you can talk to them about and it’s just fun because they’re all girls and not just boys,” Kaylynn Schrock, 9, said.

For hockey fans, seeing the swarm of pink on the ice at Carver Arena is a welcome sight.

“Anybody that loves the sport it’s outstanding, especially girls putting themselves out there, playing against boys cause as the younger level when you play in Central Illinois a lot of times you’re going to play with boys,” Jean-Guy Trudel, Peoria Rivermen head coach, said. “Just the hardship that comes with playing with boys all the time and being strong enough to preserve and character to do whatever it takes is absolutely phenomenal.”

The girls sport their pink jerseys at the rink, however, they’re more than just the pink uniform and helmet. They’re also really good at hockey.

“The girls can be faster and outsmart the boys ‘cause we’ve gotten more goals on a Pekin team ‘cause we outsmarted them,” Maeve Martin, 9, said.

“What they don’t see is how technical these girls can be,” Layne Martin said. “They handle the puck amazing. They skate just as fast, just as good as the boys. They have a huge heart that no matter what the score of the game is just makes you smile every time.”

As the sport continues to grow in Central Illinois, these girls are going out onto the ice, having fun, and proving people wrong.

“It’s just funny to prove that girls can play hockey too. Girls can do things that boys can too,” Schrock said.