Girls' and women's hockey teams in Cape Breton are a step closer to having their own home ice.
The Cape Breton Blizzard Female Hockey Association won this year's Kraft Hockeyville contest over the weekend. The association was one of four finalists in the running to receive the grand prize of $250,000.
"Oh my God, Saturday was such a thrilling night," said Julia Brown, who plays on the Blizzard under-13 triple-A team.
'Everyone jumped out of their seats'
She was at Cape Breton University with fellow players, coaches, family and community members to hear the results announced on TV.
"As soon as we found out, everyone jumped out of their seats and was screaming," Brown told CBC Radio's Information Morning Cape Breton on Monday.
"Everyone was so excited. And it was awesome to see everyone feel the same joy."
The Blizzard has about 300 players. Currently they travel to rinks in Membertou, Eskasoni and Whitney Pier for games and practices. That's because the prime ice times at the major rinks in CBRM are taken up by boys' and men's teams.
"We cannot get into the arenas locally," said Blizzard president Christina Lamey.
'A systemic discrimination issue'
Lamey said boys' and men's teams have historically been given priority over girls' and women's teams.
"Those who were there before get to pick everything first that they want, and we can have what's leftover. It's a system that is based fundamentally on [a] historic discrimination issue that now becomes a systemic discrimination issue," said Lamey.
The Blizzard partnered with the Cape Breton University Capers women's hockey team on the Hockeyville contest bid. Between the Blizzard and the Capers, there are 20 teams all scrambling for ice time. Meanwhile, the Canada Games Complex arena at CBU is sitting unused.
"So we're an association with no home, and we have an arena with no teams. Put those two things together and make this happen," said Lamey.
The CBU arena building is in good shape. The Hockeyville money will go toward new ice-making equipment and a Zamboni.
If their plan goes ahead, Lamey believes it will be Canada's first arena dedicated to female hockey teams.
The $250,000 prize is a start toward making that dream come true, she said. The Blizzard will now be looking to government for additional money.
The Hockeyville win also gives the Blizzard association $10,000 in new equipment and the opportunity to host a pre-season NHL game.
MORE TOP STORIES