Written with files from Colin Powers

After last December's announcement by Hockey Saskatchewan regarding a new five-team female junior (U22) hockey league set to begin next season, it's no secret that the female hockey community around West Central would be looking at getting into the mix.

Either Kindersley or Outlook were rumoured as locations for a team based out of the area, and in a tremendous turn of events, both communities based out of West Central were awarded a spot among the league's inaugural group of teams.

Kindersley and Outlook will join Regina and Lumsden, and then a joint Swift Current-Gull Lake team that rounds out the list of five as announced in a release by the Hockey Saskatchewan Board of Directors put out yesterday. A task team had been working on applications from interested communities since the original announcement of the new under-22 female hockey league.

“We are thrilled to have these five clubs participate in the Provincial Female Junior Hockey League's inaugural season and we’re confident that these communities will provide a great environment for female players to develop and excel,” Hockey Saskatchewan General Manager Kelly McClintock said in a statement. “We believe this league will provide more opportunities for female players to develop their skills and compete at a high level.”

The league will be run by the existing executive of the Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League and will be governed by a distinct constitution and bylaws.

When asked about the league originally back in December, here is what Swift Current AAA Wildcats coach Terry Pavely had to say.

"This will be no different than any other league. There will be some growing pains, some learning on the go. Again the first impression for me, I think it's a really good step for hockey in Saskatchewan" shared Pavely, who had several players out of West Central on his Wildcats roster this season. "Maybe with a league right in Saskatchewan, it might encourage some kids to stay in Saskatchewan."

This league will benefit AAA level players who are unable to get a post-secondary opportunity directly out of high school, while also providing an amazing opportunity for young female hockey players to look forward to in the future as the sport continues to grow. Most importantly, it gives kids an option to stick around home and play the sport they love.

Junior hockey affords many different opportunities for those who stay on the ice in their younger years. The SJHL began in 1968, but those equal opportunities will now be available for a whole new generation of hockey talent starting in 2023.