By Drew Nealis
Hockey is a sport that has been historically dominated by men. However, over the past six years, women’s hockey in North America has made waves on the national stage, notably in the Olympics. The 3-2 victory over Canada which earned the women's national team the gold medal was a huge moment for the women’s hockey in North America. The dominance of the U.S. and Canadian teams, who have seen each other in each of the past three Olympic finals, has given way to a rise in the popularity of the sport among younger girls in North America.
This can be seen on a local level now in Montgomery County and at B-CC. This past year, the first all-girls Montgomery County ice hockey team was formed in the Maryland Student Hockey League (MSHL). The team includes B-CC senior Arzu Pahl, junior Paula Ambit, and freshman Sophia Burke. They are ranked as one of the top teams in the local MSHL and face off against other counties in Maryland. The main goal of the MSHL is to give girls the chance to play competitive hockey against other all-girls teams, compared to the co-ed teams. Despite that, Pahl and Ambit stated that everyone on the all girls team plays on at least one other team and that their “main” teams were co-ed.
Both Pahl and Ambit have loved the change to the all-girls teams. Pahl says that “the game is definitely much less aggressive in nature, but there is a lot more puck handling and passing that goes with it.” Ambit, who plays for the Spanish U18 women’s national team in addition to her co-ed club team and the Montgomery County team, enjoys the all-girl’s team atmosphere, stating that it’s “like a sisterhood.”
Pahl and Ambit also give a lot of credit to the women’s national team as an inspiration for them. Pahl says that “women’s sports, especially [women’s] hockey, rarely get any recognition,” but seeing their performance in the recent Olympics was motivating. “Watching the Olympics and seeing women’s hockey at the highest level was amazing to see,” said Ambit. Ambit also says some of her biggest motivation came from Hayley Skarupa, fellow Maryland native and member of the U.S. women’s national ice hockey team that won gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. Skarupa grew up in Rockville; she attended Wootton High School. Skarupa even played on the same Montgomery travel team that Ambit plays with today.
These three Barons have seen success from the county level to the international stage and are destined to representing B-CC on the world’s biggest stage.