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Playing hockey with girls was simply not an option when I was growing up, but I did not let that stop me from joining the sport. When I started street hockey, I was one of two girls out of the entire boy’s dominant league and I could not believe how much fun I had at each game, and I actually had some skills!

When I aged out of the league, the next step was to join a boy’s ice hockey team, but my mom did not want me to get injured. Sadly, the only hockey I experienced was through watching my favorite NHL team, the Detroit Red Wings and it would be another 12 years before I played hockey again.

Fast forward to 2018, I found myself living in Fairbanks, Alaska (thanks U.S. Army) and happened to do a Google search. My love for hockey never ceases to exist and I keep my eyes peeled for adult leagues wherever I go. Low and behold, the Fairbanks Women’s Hockey Association existed and accepted new players every season. Tears of joy almost began streaming down my face when I found this league. ​Within the next six months, I began buying ice hockey equipment from the local Play it Again Sports and could not wait for October to come around.

Even though I had experience and a general knowledge of the game, I had never played with only women before, especially women who played at various levels, including some who even played college club ice hockey. Needless to say, I was extremely intimidated.

During my first game, I let my nerves get the best of me and during warm ups, I fell flat on my face. I felt like a huge failure. I am not going to mention how many times I was offside in the first period—I looked like I had never played before in my life. The only skill that saved me during the first game was my skating. If it were not for that, I swear I would’ve gotten kicked off the team.

After about five or six games, I truly felt as though I had become a part of the team. My feet became comfortable again using my ice skates and my breakaway speed came back. I began picking up little tips along the way from other players and was included in our game strategy conversations. Finally, I was starting to find my love for the game again and it felt amazing.

One thing I did not expect was to meet a group of women who all loved playing the game of hockey. Playing with women is an entirely different experience and it is a more welcoming and positive environment. The amount of fun I experienced during our games and our Friday night skates was unbelievable. I played more hockey in the 2018-2019 season than I ever have in my life and I am thankful the Fairbanks Women’s Hockey Association allowed me to live out my childhood dreams again. During the regular season I played 16 games, participated in two local tournaments and even joined a team that participated in the 2019 Las Vegas Women’s Hockey Tournament.

Unfortunately, I had to leave Alaska, but I was not ready to say goodbye to women’s hockey. Luckily for me, I knew of a friend who played ice hockey and she led me to a local team that is associated with the United Women’s Hockey League in New Jersey.

Until the U.S. Army decides where I go next, I’m playing defense on the Lady Jaguars team, out of Mt. Laurel, NJ and I love every minute of it.

Women’s hockey has had such a significant impact on my life and has taught me to push myself each game to get better and better. My hope is that wherever I land next, I will be able to find another group of women who enjoy this game as much as I do.

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Ashley Mouzzon

More about Ashley Mouzzon

Ashley Mouzzon is a freelance writer who enjoys talking about hockey to anyone who will listen. As a player in a women's league herself, she is adamant on helping grow women's hockey. Ashley loves that she can combine her two passions together: hockey and writing. She is determined to use her voice to spread awareness for women's hockey on all levels. When Ashley is not writing or playing hockey, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading and finishing her Masters Degree in Communications at Drexel University. Ashley holds a B.A. in English from Thomas Edison State University.