STAMFORD, Conn. Ryan Equale stood among the sprawling construction of the new Chelsea Piers in Stamford overlooking one of two unfinished NHL-sized hockey rinks in the sports complex.
The executive director of the facility and coach of the Mid Fairfield Stars U-12 girls ice hockey team , Equale hoped to one day see a burst in popularity among girls in the sport he loves and loves to coach.
Equale, who was taught the game by Greenwich Academy coach and local legend Moe Tarrant , has coached the U-12 team to the National Championship Tournament in Marlboro, Mass. Tournament games starting Wednesday.
Theyre just such a fun group. We were lucky enough to bring a U-14 team to nationals last year, but this group is so different. Theyre so passionate, Equale said. Theyre sponges and they never get full of the feedback theyre looking for. Every one of those girls certainly smiles more often than they dont when we play and practice.
The Mid Fairfield U-12 girls ice hockey team beat two other teams in Connecticut to win the state tournament. The girls then outscored opponents from New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut, 20-4, to win the New England Regionals two weeks ago.
It never ceases to amaze me how many good young girl hockey players are out there. We were fortunate enough to play some really good teams here in Connecticut and even more talented teams [in New Englands], Equale said. The girls were just prepared and they established their goals early. They've kept those goals alive and theyre on the last leg of that journey.
Equale, a former UConn mens ice hockey All-Star, a Wilton native and Fairfield resident, found a passion for coaching after graduating from college. He always remembered the impact Tarrant and other coaches had on him as a youth hockey player and hopes to have that same effect on girls discovering hockey for the first time.
Mo and I havent had a goal or an assist all year long. My job is to help them achieve their goals, Equale said. If they play their best, they should be able to walk away either winning the whole thing or knowing they gave it everything they could and hopefully with a smile on their face.
Mid Fairfield won its opening gam e of the tournament, 5-1, versus the Lady Ducks of Anaheim, Calif. The Mid-Fairfield U-12 girls take on the Quakers Hockey U-12 team of Delaware at 10:20 a.m. Thursday.
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