A group of teenage girls in Lower Sackville are hanging up their hair straighteners and lacing up their skates as players on the first ever Sackville High all-girls hockey team.
A cold skating rink is a far cry from the warmth and comfort of a shopping mall, but for these girls it's where they'd rather be, at least for a few hours a week.
"They are so excited," said hockey coach David Marsh. "You wouldn't believe the smiles on their faces out there."
Girls high school hockey is not new to the area. Lockview High in Fall River and Charles P. Allen in Bedford both have teams, and last year Millwood High, the second high school in Sackville, went to the finals. Marsh said it just so happens that the majority of girls that play league hockey live in the Millwood area.
A teacher's assistant for children with special needs, Marsh coached the Prince Andrew High girls hockey team in Dartmouth before transferring to Sackville this year. One of the first things he noticed when he showed up for work in September was there was no girls hockey team
"I approached the principal on Monday," said Marsh. "I was given the go-ahead on Tuesday, and had 13 girls signed up by Wednesday. We went to a team league meeting and by the time we left we were considered a team."
Then came the fun part.
Some players, like 17-year-old goaltender Stephanie Reid, have had years of experience on the ice. Some girls have played ringette. And then there's Anna Dwyer, who has never played a sport that included a stick.
"It's just something I've always wanted to try," said the 16-year-old with a smile on her face. "Now that I have the opportunity I'm going for it."
There were a handful of players from the Sackville High boys hockey team on hand for the girls' first practice and there were also a few proud parents in the stands.
"I think it's great," said Wally Cameron, whose daughter Rachael plays on the team. "What they needed was a teacher to get involved and now they have that."
Marsh said he's not expecting a competitive season but that this is a building year.
"You have to start somewhere," he said.
The girls' first game is on Monday, Oct. 15 at the Sackville arena against Prince Andrew High.
"I'm looking forward to seeing my old team," laughed Marsh.