By Jordan Ramsay
Feb. 10, 2017
The number of girls playing hockey on P.E.I. has exploded in the last five years says Allan Johnson, a Pee Wee girls hockey coach.
Johnson started coaching boys hockey 25 years ago after finishing his Junior A career.
“I do it because I love the game and I want to give back like the volunteers I had when I played.”
Johnson originally coached boy’s hockey before he stopped to raise a family but now that his daughter is old enough to play, he wanted to make sure she had the same experiences he did as a child.
“Girls’ hockey is different than boys’ hockey. There’s more social skills, it’s more about friends and I try to take that to the game and stress team commitment.”
Johnson’s daughter, Kirsten, played boys hockey for two years before making the switch to play with girls.
Kirsten found it hard to have fun with the boys but a few years ago Johnson started coaching one of the first girls’ hockey teams in Charlottetown, which allowed his daughter to try girls’ hockey, he said.
“Girls hockey has really expanded since then. Girls seem to be coming back to hockey, for a long time it was split between ringette and hockey.”
Johnson tries to make it fun for the girls with team activities like parties, gymnasium games and a Secret Santa gift exchange.
“The PEIHA is really putting more of a focus into girls’ hockey which helps a lot.”
Jacklyn Mackinnon is another hockey player and has the unique experience of playing boys’ and girls’ hockey on P.E.I.
“I started playing with the boys when I was four-years-old and switched to girls when I was 10-years-old.”
Mackinnon is an avid athlete competing in several sports other than hockey like rugby, basketball, soccer and field hockey.
Like Johnson’s daughter, Mackinnon found it difficult to have fun playing with boys but eventually thrived when she switched to girls’ hockey, she said.
“I was able to compete with the boys when I was playing but there was a lot of bullying that happened because I was a girl.”
Mackinnon had to give up hockey after high school because she is an Olympic field hockey prospect and is focusing on that and school but she plans to play again.
“Next year I think I’ll play on the UPEI hockey club team.”
Allan Johnson instructs a Pee Wee Girls hockey player during a skating drill. He has been involved in hockey all of his life and coaching on-and-off for 25 years.