Hockey Nova Scotia says the province's first-ever female hockey association will be in place for the 2017-2018 season.
The Metro West Force Female Hockey Association will be responsible for the administration of female hockey in Halifax-area communities that were previously overseen by the Halifax, Sackville, Chebucto, TASA and Bedford minor hockey associations.
"It's a step towards putting a focus 100 per cent on growing female hockey and having it administered by a group that's solely looking at female hockey," said Hockey Nova Scotia executive director Darren Cossar.
Cossar said there are about 2,000 hockey players on female-only teams in the province — a number that has grown by about 500 over the last five years.
Better ice times
There are 33 minor hockey associations that administer the 15,000 players in the province on male and mixed teams. With fewer players to pull from for all-female teams, Hockey Nova Scotia has broken the province down into six regions for female players.
"The Metro West is the first of the regions to formally step out, form their own executive, and come out from underneath the umbrella of the minor hockey association," Cossar said.
"The hope is that those remaining five will eventually form executives and become the sole administrators of female hockey within those regions."
Cossar said the end result should be a better result for the players, including better access to prime-time ice and more development for female coaches.
He said the move won't affect Hockey Nova Scotia's budget, though it will cause slight decreases in enrolment for existing minor hockey associations who will lose some of their female players. The hope is in the long term it will mean more enrolment overall as the female hockey associations generate more recruitment, he said.