After a one-year hiatus Tillsonburg Lightning girls hockey is making a comeback.
"Girls registration is open for IP (Initiation Program) 4-7 year olds," said Dana Hicks, Tillsonburg Minor Hockey's OWHA rep. "IP girls get a discount – their registration is only $100."
Hicks said TMHI would also like to have a Lightning novice girls team (8-year-olds) and Lightning atom girls team (9-10 year olds).
"We are giving some of our returning players an opportunity... we have enough to field a midget-age team. So we're going to run a midget-age team, this year only.
"We were guaranteed through Tamara (Bull) and her three-on-three program a midget team, and we had enough commit to full registration, so we knew we had enough. Most of the girls went through program through the years."
The midgets will be able to mentor some of the younger girls, said Hicks, noting registration for the older girls was also discounted $100 beyond regular TMHI fees.
"We're offering as many incentives as we can to get the girls back playing hockey in Tillsonburg.
"We don't see ourselves as competition with any other programs in town, we want to be able to offer something affordable to all the kids, no matter what they want to do."
TMHI's early registration runs from June 1 to June 30. Registrations will be accepted after the 30th, but registering this month provides a $100 discount. Go to tmhi.org online to register.
Coaching applications have been received for the midget and atom teams, and they are still looking for novice coaches.
Without OMHA's geographic boundaries, OWHA players are allowed to play wherever they want, and that is an important distinction in girls hockey, said Hicks.
"Our whole idea is to build from the bottom up. If we build a good program at the younger ages, we're hoping that they'll stay."
TMHI is using some of the $25,000 RBC grant (received by the Lightning for girls hockey in 2012) to help develop and promote girls hockey locally.
"We did a couple girls hockey days, and a couple promotional things previously. We're using it to supplement the registration right now. We're also looking to run girls-only practices for IP ages once a month – they'll be integrated with the boys, but will also have girls-only practices. We have 'free hoodie' incentives as well, so we're giving out free Lightning hoodies to all the girls who register with minor hockey."
The Lightning teams will play either Local League or C level, and the program is expected to begin early September.
"The support from the entire Tillsonburg minor hockey board is unwavering and unbelievable at this point," said Hicks, a 10-year veteran on the TMHI executive. "By far, the support from this board, this year, is hands down the best I've ever seen. It's the full board... 100 per cent behind it."