BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Girls hockey is on the rise here in Western New York, and this weekend it’s getting the recognition that it deserves.

“It’s exciting because you know that there are a bunch of different options to play on when you’re older and you don’t just have to stick to limited options,” 13-year old Kylie Wegrzynowski said.

“It’s awesome. When I started, I was 8-years old and I had to play on a 12-U team because that’s all they had, they didn’t have an 8-U or a 10-U team. Now you have 50 girls trying out for 8-U and 10-U and they’re making multiple teams, so it’s awesome to see how the sport has progressed over the years,” Buffalo Regals coach Heather Besch said.

The Buffalo Regals are participating in USA Hockey’s Girls Hockey Weekend from Friday through Sunday in order to celebrate the girls that play the game and continue to grow the sport.

“There’s different activities that are going on throughout the country like in Colorado and Minnesota. I caught it in an email and thought it would be fun to do something fun with the Regals and the program that we have here,” Buffalo Regals team manager Deanna Baker said. “It’s grown so much in the last few years that we just wanted to celebrate the girls.”

With new girls hockey teams at the high school level sprouting up every few years, the chance for girls to continue playing the sport they love is increasing each year. If you ask any of the young girls playing on the Regals teams right now, they love getting to take the ice on an all-girl team.

“It’s really nice seeing all the ponytails,” 10-year old Kennedy Reiford said.

“It’s great because you make longtime friends, lifelong friends and a lot of great memories. It’s just an awesome experience,” 12-year old Lucia Lawrence said.

“My dad played hockey, and when I saw the Buffalo Beauts play hockey that made me want to play more,” 9-year old Lillian Occhino said.

“I think it’s different because I used to play boys hockey but I think it’s better than boys hockey personally. I still enjoy boys hockey but I think I like girls hockey more,” 11-year old Anastasia Nagy said.

“It’s so fun because you get to grow with these girls and learn how to play with them and learn their playing styles, and then you can just become a better and better team the longer you play with them,” 7th grader Morgan Cooper said.

“I think it’s nice because at first there weren’t as many girls teams. I started out playing with the boys, so it was definitely different when I started playing with the girls,” 8th grader Claire Whiteford said.

Kids learn so much when they grow up playing sports. For parents of young hockey players, all-girls teams have been a positive outlet for their daughters to grow in their confidence and come together to learn how to work as a team.

“The one thing that I really like about the girls playing with the girls is that nowadays, it’s become a competition when girls get older, it’s who’s better at this or who can do this or who’s prettier, and that’s not what it’s about when they’re on the ice,” Buffalo Regals parent Rebecca Roll said. “It’s about working together, being a team, and having a common goal. It’s a camaraderie amongst them. They love being together, and some of their best friends are on the ice.”

The Girls Hockey Weekend will be this weekend at the Harbor Center. For any young girls interested in participating in another all-girls hockey weekend, Lyme WNY will be hosting “Ladies Lace Up Against Lyme Disease on February 25th through 27th. For more information, check it out here.