February 21, 2018 8:52 pm

Women’s Olympic hockey stars inspiring more girls to play the game

WATCH: Since women's hockey was added to the Olympics in 1998, more girls have taken up the game and their skill level has increased at a much younger age. More from Kevin Smith.

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Seventeen-year-old Courtney Kollman said she was inspired as a kid to play hockey after watching Danielle Goyette and Team Canada win gold at the 2006 Olympics in Italy.

The Edge School for Athletes student says she’s seen a huge increase in the number of girls picking up the sport.

“I think it’s really growing, younger girls are looking up to those Olympians, and us too being older than the other girls,” Kollman said.

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“They get to see what we’re all about, they came out to our game the other day so they get to see what the higher levels are like and it’s really growing.”

READ MORE: Canadian women advance to gold medal hockey game at Winter Olympics

Danielle Goyette was Canada’s flag bearer in 2006 in Torino, Italy. She’s one of the pioneers of women’s hockey and won Olympic gold medals in 2002 and 2006.

“Growing up I didn’t have a women’s hockey role model, but now they have the chance to have that,” Goyette said.

“As a player, I’ve been on the national team before, I’ve been to the Olympics, this is our duty to give back to the game.”

Goyette now coaches the University of Calgary Dinos women’s program.

“I started playing hockey when I was 15 and I played once a week until I was 30 years old, [it’s a] totally different world now.”

WATCH: 250 female minor hockey players had the opportunity to witness an Olympic announcement Friday as Canada’s National Women’s Team was revealed. As Jill Croteau reports, it’s inspiring a whole new generation of girls.

Hockey Calgary executive director Kevin Kobelka says 1,500 girls are playing in the Hockey Calgary system, which is a 25 per cent increase in five years.

“We’re seeing more and more girls getting into it and we’re seeing more girls playing in both the all-female programs and the mixed programs as well,” Kobelka said.

“I think it’s been great and here in the city we’re seeing a lot of the rinks are getting retrofitted [to] add more dressing rooms because of the vast number of females playing the game.”

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As for Kollman, she’s already represented Canada on the international stage at the u-18 world championships. She said it’s amazing to be a part of the national women’s program pipeline.

“I think it’s really neat to kind of play under those girls and they’re obviously our role models and to get to be in that program with them and be associated with them is something special.”

Kollman’s dream is to compete in the Olympics for Canada.

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