Ice hockey is becoming a favorite sport to play for a growing legion of women of all ages in Palm Beach County.
“Ice hockey is not your typical Florida pastime, but it’s a healthy, energetic, ‘cool’ way to enjoy a sport and camaraderie unlike any other,” local female ice hockey player Valerie Mathieu said.
The Palm Beach Skate Zone in suburban Lake Worth is where many of these local female players are gathering to play ice hockey. Right now, a women/girls hockey clinic is offered every Sunday morning to ice hockey enthusiasts so they can develop their skating and hockey skills. The age of the participants in these clinics range from 5 to 65 years of age, but most of the participants are in their 30s and 40s.
The Palm Beach Skate Zone is also host to the National Hockey League’s Florida Panther’s Learn to Play and Learn to Skate programs, where new participants receive full hockey gear and professional training in the basic fundamentals of ice hockey.
“I was encouraged to start [playing ice hockey] by my husband, who is a goalie,” Mathieu said. “I have been learning to skate and play hockey for 10 years and started at the age of 48 for the very first time! I am proud to say I play ice hockey and have gained so many wonderful friends through this outlet.”
The Florida Women’s Hockey League (FWHL) has five all-women tournaments held every fall/winter in South Florida to showcase and expand the sport of ice hockey. The first tournament was held in Ellenton, Florida, on Sept. 10-12. The second tournament is scheduled to be held in Coral Springs from Oct. 29-31. The third tournament will be Nov. 12-14 at the Palm Beach Skate Zone. The fourth tournament is scheduled for Jan. 7-9, 2022, in Clearwater. The fifth all-women’s tournament will be Feb. 4-6, 2022, in Estero/Fort Myers.
According to Mathieu, this year will be the first season that the FWHL will include a new novice division for the new crop of women skaters who are eager to participate in competitive ice hockey among their peers. A local squad called the Lucky Pucks will have several teams competing in the different divisions. Many novice players are also part of the co-ed recreational ice hockey league at the Palm Beach Skate Zone. It’s called the Beginners Hockey League (BHL).
Other venues in South Florida where ice hockey is played include the Ice Den in Coral Springs and Rink on the Beach in Pompano Beach.
“The women’s tournaments will provide a thrilling, all-female opportunity to follow our dreams and the inspiration of the current gold-medal-winning women’s U.S. Olympic hockey team,” Mathieu said.
Learn more about the programs of the Florida Women’s Hockey League at www.fwhlonline.com. To learn more about the programs available at the Palm Beach Skate Zone, call (561) 963-5900 or visit www.pbskatezone.com.
More information about the Lucky Pucks program can be found at www.luckypuckshockey.org.