New OneHockey girls hockey director Seiling sees growth potential for game across U.S.
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As OneHockey, the premier tournament program in North America, gets set to kick off its summer programs, the company is also expanding on the girls hockey side.
The recent hiring of former NHL player Ric Seiling will speed that growth in leaps and bounds.
“(OneHockey president and CEO) Sebastien Fortier was very open when I called him to ask about what he is doing to expand girls and women’s hockey,” Seiling said. “His expertise has been with boys hockey with a little bit of girls hockey, and he agreed that OneHockey needed to do more. Hence, he offered me the position to help grow girls and women’s hockey.”
Seiling says he hopes his vast experience in the girls hockey game will be a benefit to OneHockey.
“Having been the GM and coach for four years of probably the most successful professional women’s team (Buffalo Beauts) during that that time, I feel I have learned from my players a lot of information that can be helpful in designing and implementing tournaments that girls and women’s teams would benefit from,” said Seiling. “The Beauts went to the championship all four years and won the Isobel Cup in 2017. With the Buffalo Sabres and Bills not doing so well, the Beauts became the talk of Western New York and the excitement generated was felt through girls hockey, yet there was not as many tournaments for female players so they could get the same experience young boys did while growing up.”
Drafted by the Sabres in the first round (14th overall) of the 1977 NHL Draft, Seiling played pro hockey through the 1987-88 season before getting into coaching.
With OneHockey, Seiling will be evaluating the current processes and locations that OneHockey has for girls.
“I am also reaching out to several female players who have gone through the minor, college, national, and possibly professional levels to get their thoughts and opinions on what has been underserved and what recommendations they have to improve,” Seiling said. “I will then bring a formulated plan to Sebastien to discuss and implement to help female players play and enjoy their hockey experience.
“Girls hockey continues to grow everywhere. I know of women who have gone to Europe and Russia to play in leagues there. When the U.S.-Canada women’s Olympic hockey draws more viewers than the men’s game does, that has to speak volumes. It also spiked girls hockey registrations right after the Olympics.”
Still, Seiling believes more can be done to keep girls hockey growing and being sustainable across the United States.
“I believe the national team players need to play in whatever league is available to them but as they boycott the NWHL, they also strip those young players from being able to watch and idolize them,” said Seiling. “To not have them in the press and on TV as well as being able to buy a ticket and go to the rink on a regular basis to cheer them on has set women’s hockey back. You build from the ground up, and the future players are being stripped of their heroes and idols.
“I hope to at least keep the game fun and challenging through OneHockey so that one day we will see pictures of tournament girls years later hoisting championship trophies, world championship trophies, or just telling childhood stories of how much fun they had playing hockey at one of OneHockey’s tournaments.”
— Matt Mackinder
(May 20, 2021)