The New York Rangers are launching an all-new, girls-only youth hockey program in an effort to get more girls involved in the sport, which has long been male-dominated.
The team is partnering with Amanda Kessel, the forward on the U.S. Olympic women's hockey team, who will serve as the Girls Youth Hockey Ambassador.
“Growing up I didn't have the opportunity like this to play with other girls. There was no choice but to play with boys,” Kessel told Cheddar. “Now that girls have this opportunity, I think they sometimes they just feel a little bit more comfortable and will take that risk in playing hockey.”
The program will begin this fall in the New York City metro area and is tailored specifically to young girls aged 11 to 14 — unlike the Ranger's other youth initiatives that are co-ed. It will include a 10-week season, a final tournament, and a hockey festival.
The league hopes to include 700 girls and increase the number each season. Currently, girls make up only 12 percent of youth hockey leagues in the tri-state area, according to Kessel.
“I know what hockey and sports did for me growing up and where it put me in life, so to be that role model for young girls growing up and to have a part in their development is truly an honor,” Kessel said.
Kessel won a gold medal in 2018 at the PyeongChang games in South Korea and scored a shootout-goal in the championship match against Canada. She also won a silver medal in 2016 at the Sochi games.
So far, the Rangers have partnered with 13 local ice rinks and will cover the cost of renting the ice time, which the team said will lower the cost for participants.