The Moose Jaw Mavericks female hockey program is feeling frustrated after last week, being denied a U13 and U15 AA team by Hockey Saskatchewan.
On Thursday, Hockey Saskatchewan announced that they would add three teams to the U13 AA league and four to the U15 AA program, with Moose Jaw’s name left out for both divisions.
“The way our program is improving and growing, this gives us a setback. This is frustrating on my behalf,” says Mavericks Director, Jamie Feiffer. “We did all we could to apply and it just happens to be that Lumsden has the team there so they want to give them one more year to try and build their program.”
Lumsden, who had a U13 AA this past season, will now have a U15 AA female team after the Prairie Storm in Balgonie was relocated to the community.
The confusion lies with Feiffer on why Hockey Sask wouldn’t allow the two communities to each have a team within both age groups.
“We put in our application that we would focus south of Moose Jaw and try to draw girls south of Moose Jaw, which we would leave them to have north of Moose Jaw. We thought that would be the stepping stone to getting an AA program. We knew under the understanding that they just got their program last year. Our program has grown successfully here in the last five years. We thought that was the next stepping stone for our girls.”
According to Kelly McClintock, the General Manager of Hockey Saskatchewan, Moose Jaw did not submit an application before last year's inaugural U13 AA season, so that is one of the reasons why their application was denied.
"Last year, we had applications and Lumsden was one that applied," says McClintock. "We looked around and thought that Lumsden would be a great opportunity, as their program is really taking off. Actually, they have more girls registered in Lumsden Minor Hockey than Moose Jaw does. Last year we gave the U13 AA to Lumsden."
"We were looking at increasing the league this year and Moose Jaw applied but we decided to give Lumsden another couple of years to establish their program," adds McClintock.
All Female AAA and AA Programming/Structure is reviewed every second year by Hockey Saskatchewan.
Moving forward those girls within Moose Jaw that want to play at the AA level will now have to travel a further distance to hockey games and practices.
“They have to drive to Lumsden for practices and games. Where we could have successfully had a program in Moose Jaw for those local girls.”
Currently, the Mavericks house two U13 A teams, along with one U15 A squad, and three U7 teams, two in the U9 C division, and one U11 team.
This past season all three “A” teams had spectacular years. The Moose Jaw Mavericks #1 finished first in the east division with an 18-2-0-0 record and made it all the way to the East Division final before losing to the Parkland Fire. In addition, the Mavericks #1 found their way to the provincial U13 A final.
The Moose Jaw Mavericks #2 team also had a memorable season finishing first in the West Division with an 18-1-1-0 record. They made it to the Saskatchewan Female Hockey League final and also, were crowned U13 A provincial champions.
The Mavericks U15 A team finished the season with an 11-7-2-0 record but fell in the first round of the playoffs.
“Just looking back on the season both U13 teams and the U15 team I think was a very successful year. If you go into the U11 group the girls lost out in a shootout in the C Division City Championship. We had two teams in the U9 and three teams in U7. The girls’ program numbers are definitely increasing.”
Feiffer says that the only thing that they can do now is to stay positive and continue growing the Mavericks program.
“This is just a bump in the road and we will learn from our mistakes. We will do some more promoting to get more girls involved in the program and keep it going.”
Feiffer along with the Moose Jaw Minor Hockey Association has been in continuous talks with Hockey Sask to figure out why their application was denied.
There is hope from Feiffer that one day the Mavericks female hockey program will get the approval they need to be able to house U13 and U15 AA teams in Moose Jaw.
The expansion in the U13 AA division included two new teams from Regina and a second team from Saskatoon. In the U15 AA division, it will include a second team in both Regina and Saskatoon, Western Prairie (Rosetown), and Parkland (Melville).
The expansion of both the Female U13 AA and Female U15 AA leagues aligns with the objectives outlined in Hockey Saskatchewan’s 2022-25 Strategic Plan. To view the plan’s Roadmap, click HERE.