Girls hockey is growing in Connecticut. More youth programs and hockey co-ops are popping up as girls want to get involved.
On Monday three Olympians, two from Connecticut, hosted a girls youth hockey clinic, ready to pass the torch to the next generation.
Gretchen Ulion-Silverman is watching girls hockey change right in front of her.
“When I was young, I only had boys hockey that I could play,” Ulion-Silverman said.
In fact, she turned a spot on the boys team to an Olympic gold medal for the first-ever U.S. Women’s Hockey Team in 1998.
Now, 20 years later, she says it’s an exciting time to be a girls hockey player in the state of Connecticut.
For ever puck on the ice Monday at the Taft school, there was a ponytail to go with it.
“I definitely hope she can teach me how to be stronger on the puck,” Katie Cicchetti said.
Girls like Cicchetti won’t just be learning from Ulion, but also from her teammate Sue Merz and 2018 Team USA Captain Meghan Duggan.
“It’s so amazing that our young girls have role models that are realistic models for them to look up to,” Ulion-Silverman said.
Duggan also had role models in the women she now works with.
“Meeting Gretchen and the journey I’ve been on in my hockey career – it’s been the biggest part of my life. I mean it dictated my life,” she said.
From one generation…
“You know when I was 11 I watched the ’98 team win gold, I can still remember where I was, what it felt like,” Duggan explained.
To the next.
"I stayed up like at 2 in the morning to watch the game," Cicchetti said.
Even as the sport changes, there are some things that stay the same.
"Having the opportunity to be that person for a young girl, there’s nothing better in the world,” Duggan said.
Girls high school hockey still isn’t a part of the CIAC, but interest is growing and co-op teams are part of individual conferences.