Popularity of girls' hockey on the rise in Butte and across Montana

Posted at 9:41 AM, Mar 03, 2023

BUTTE — Young women do more than just figure skate on the ice—they’re playing the fast, hard-charging sport of ice hockey, and it’s a growing sport in Montana.

“Women’s hockey in Montana is one of the fastest growing sports in Montana. We used to have girls that played on the boys' teams because there was nowhere to play,” said MSU Women’s Hockey Coach Laurie McGree.

There are now 11 all-girl teams playing in the Montana Amateur Hockey Association's state girls' championship for under-19 and under-14 in Butte. It’s only been a few years since Montana had all-girl hockey programs.

Like many of the girls, 14-year-old Chloe Jewell got into hockey because her brother was a hockey player.

“I kind of just started skating with him in open skate and I just ended up playing—mainly because I wanted to be better than him but,” said Jewell.

The girls enjoy competing with other players from around the state. Butte goalie Sammie Bogert is ready to go all out in the tournament to help her team win.

“Actually, I did break my tailbone, so I don’t butterfly a lot, but I will in this game because it’s state, it’s a really important game,” said Bogert.

Though it’s a tough game, the girls say they’re not afraid to grind it out on the ice.

“Playing 19-U, I almost wish there was hitting, a little bit of body contact, but …, “ said Jordyn Yelenich.

Are you allowed to put a check on to somebody?

“No, I actually got a penalty for that a couple weeks ago,” she said.

Great Falls only recently fielded enough young girls to get a team and their coach says the sport is good for developing strong young women.

“It’s all about getting knocked down, get back up, gritting through some tough battles. You definitely learn some emotional intelligence from the game, you know, getting hit, getting loses, poor plays, whatever, it will impact them for the rest of lives what they’re going to experience as a female hockey player for sure,” said Great Falls Coach Andi Hedges.

The tournament continues at the Butte Community Ice Center until Sunday.