Women’s Collegiate Showcase Set for Smashville Thanksgiving Weekend | #predators | #childpredators | #kids

After the Nashville Predators, Northeastern Huskies and Western Michigan Broncos men’s hockey teams hang up their skates for Thanksgiving weekend, at Ford Ice Center Bellevue and Antioch, the party will just be getting started. 

Returning for its second year, the SMASHVILLE Collegiate Women’s Hockey Showcase and SMASHVILLE Girls Hockey Showcase will give fans and players a three-day extravaganza thrown in proper Smashville fashion.

“Last year during the championship game, it was packed and it was loud,” Director of Youth Hockey & Fan Development Kristen Bowness said. “We were throwing out rally towels into the crowd so that everyone could just get into it. It was pretty passionate and it was fun to see all the different fans that came in for it. You see lots of family members and friends but you also see alumni that come in that want to support their schools and they want to support their favorite sport.”

On the collegiate side, this year’s tournament will feature the Northeastern Huskies, Cornell Big Red and Princeton Tigers women’s ice hockey teams, with the accompanying girls showcase giving ice time to dozens of young Tier I and Tier II players. 

Tweet from @PredsNHL: See y’all real soon 🤠��-> https://t.co/3SnThQJfXv https://t.co/JDWexBZ2U6

To the Predators organization, these events play a huge role in inspiring the next generation of female hockey players to join a rapidly-growing sport.

“It’s so important to have representation and to have young girls see that they can aspire to play at the highest level,” Amateur Hockey & Fan Development Manager Jennifer Boniecki said. “I think all female athletes have said it at some point of their careers, if you can see it, you can be it. So, you need to be able to show girls that there is an option for them and that the end of their youth hockey journey doesn’t have to be the end of their hockey careers.”

Boniecki, who grew up playing high school and AAA hockey before skating with the Ohio State Buckeyes through college, knows firsthand that with the right spark, any girl can feel inspired to lace up a pair of skates and hit the ice.

“Cammi Granato grew up in my neighborhood in Chicago, so being able to see her play at the highest level – that’s what I aspired to,” Boniecki said. “Any time you get girls out there and seeing those athletes, for them to turn around and say, ‘This is where I want to go, this is the level I want to play at,’ is everything. And that’s how girls get into the game, is seeing that there are females that are playing and playing at really high levels.”

With USA Hockey reporting staggering growth in the sport over the last several years, having a place – or two – where the next generation can learn and develop as players is of the utmost importance to the Preds organization too. 

It’s why both Ford Ice Centers currently offer the G.O.A.L! Program – or, Get Out and Learn – a 100 percent free-of-charge, learn to play program for girls and boys aged 4 to 9. 

“It’s huge, especially with it being free,” Bowness said. “It’s a big investment to buy the gear, to purchase the skates and everything like that. So, the fact that we’re able to provide it for free, just to be able to let kids give it a try is huge because it is an investment. You want to make sure that your child is going to stick with it… If they don’t like it, then they don’t like it. We’re not going to push it, but at the same time if they do love it, it’s a good way for them to get their feet wet with it.”

There’s no telling how many future players could wind up sitting behind the glass at the Ford Ice Centers this weekend, though however big the number ends up being, each of them will be in store for a three-day hockey event put on the only way the Predators organization knows how. 

“It’s going to be awesome,” Boniecki said. “We tried to do everything to create that unique Smashville experience. When you walk in, all the decor is going to be neon sign themed and there’s the championship guitar. It’s all just going to look like you’re right here in Nashville. And it’s going to be incredible.”

Click here to purchase tickets to the SMASHVILLE Women’s Collegiate Showcase and click here to learn more about the Ford Ice Center’s G.O.A.L.! Program.

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