There have been relatively limited chances for youth hockey players in the Greater Bangor area to compete on all-girls teams.
The Maine Junior Black Bears travel program hopes this season to open the door for more girls to do just that.
“Right now, our focus is to give girls an opportunity to play hockey,” said Randy Rand, a coach in the Maine Junior Black Bears travel program who is helping to spearhead the effort.
The Maine Junior Black Bears had one girls team last season, for girls ages 8-15.
“It was quite a diverse group,” Rand said.
This year, the MJBB program is making a dramatic push with the addition of three new teams. There will be age-group teams for girls Under-19, U-14, U-12 and U-10.
Rand said he doesn’t envision any problem filling the rosters for the four teams.
“The number of girls playing hockey has been on the rise,” said Rand.
The Maine Junior Black Bears hopes to introduce its program to area players on Saturday with a free session for girls ages 6-19 who are interested in playing hockey. The event will run from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena in Orono.
Rand said the girls will be able to go on the ice and, “do some drills, play some some fun games and scrimmage” until 11 a.m.
That will be followed by a question-and-answer period involving the girls, their parents, coaches and league administrators.
Girls are asked to bring their own equipment. There will be free refreshments.
Rand said even girls who have never skated but are interested in getting started in hockey are welcome to just show up for the Q & A session.
The Maine Junior Black Bears plan three learn-to-skate sessions: One at the end of the summer, another in the fall and the final one in the winter.
The season starts in September and runs through March.
Girls also may play for other teams while they are competing for the Maine Junior Black Bears. Some of the players on the U-19 team will be on their boys high school teams.
Rand said former Boston College and University of Maine hockey player Kim Meagher will coach the U-19 team. Meagher is a Hampden native who played on the boys team at John Bapst High School in Bangor.
She has coached several youth league teams and is an instructor along with Ryan Shelley at the Inside Edge Camps and Clinics at the Penobscot Ice Arena in Brewer.
Russell Edgar will coach the U-14s and Rand will be the coach for the U-10s. They haven’t lined up a coach for the U-12 team yet, Rand said.
The Under-10 team will be more of an “instructional type of team” but Rand said it will also play games.
The Under-19 team will compete in tournaments across New England and eastern Canada.
All the teams will have a practice schedule.
Despite increased participation in the region, there has never been a girls high school team from the Bangor area. The closest interscholastic team is the Winslow-Gardiner co-op squad.
There are 16 high school girls teams in the state.