The Section V Hockey season is in full swing and what's becoming more noticeable is the increase of girls on area rosters. More than 1/3rd of Section V hockey squads have a female player.
"The speed is not that big of a difference," said Rene Gangarosa, Brighton/HF-L defender. "It's actually pretty comparable at the level I'm playing at. It's just a matter of, instead of maybe poke-checking the puck away, I might need to step into a guy coming down with the puck."
Gangarosa is one of Brighton/HF-L's top blue-liners and a big reason why the Barons are off to a fast start this season.
"Where some people might think they go from playing the girls game where there's no contact, there might be a little hangover when they come to the guys game but it's actually quite the opposite with Rene," said Brighton/HF-L Coach Brendon Rothfuss. "I think it fuels her a little more and it's a new challenge and she's really receptive to new challenges."
Penfield is also out to a fast start behind their starting goalie, senior Lindsay Browning.
"I really have to give credit to a couple of girls who played hockey here a few years ago, who really paved the way for us and opened up the doors," said Browning. "It's great that the guys and all the coaches have been great in accepting us and letting us play on the teams."
The players have learned how to protect themselves, so the game doesn't change much; in fact, most teams benefit.
"As good as she's been on the ice, she's, if not, better in the locker room and in and around the school community," said Penfield Coach Nathan Miller.
"There hasn't been an instance where I was worried for Rene," said Rothfuss. "She's really competitive, she's really tough and same with Isabella. We have two girls on the team, they're both really tough and they're great skaters and they get themselves out of sticky situations."
The opportunities to play college hockey are greater. Gangarosa has given a verbal to Penn State and Browning is heading to Cornell.
"I didn't really start talking to Cornell until last year, around springtime and, went visit campus, loved the coaches and we got along very well and loved the campus, really excited to get going next year," said Browning.