After a two-year absence, the free Esso Fun Day is back for girls, 9 and under, wanting to give hockey a try.

It's being held on Apr. 9 at the SLS Family Sports Centre and is broken into three parts: a come-a-try hockey session; a 3-on-3 mini-tournament; and a chance to find out what it's like to play goal.

Lorne Bremner, minor hockey's female program director, says the free fun day has been one of the driving forces behind growing the female program to 200 players.

"It's a massive reason why we've grown the way we have over the years," says Bremner. "We missed not having it the last couple of years because of COVID, so we're super excited to be having it back."

The come-and-try hockey session is for those who are brand new to the sport and will be led by female coaches and players. Committee members will be available to answer any questions parents may have.

No equipment? No problem. They have 20 sets available for use. They do, however, recommend players supply their own helmets with a mask and skates. Some are available just in case.

For girls who have already played ice sports, they're doing a Quickshooter 3-on-3 mini-tournament. Inexperienced players will be grouped with experienced ones to make sure each team has a player who knows how to work the puck.

"It's really just a fun mini-tourney to work up a sweat and enjoy the game," says Bremner.

For both of these sessions, participants receive a snack and will enjoy an off-ice session presented by Cailin Morrison and Girls Be You.

The come-and-try goalie session is a chance to see if a player wants a future between the pipes. Goalie gear is provided and players will receive professional coaching.

The goalie session is open with or without participation in one of the other groups.

Bremner says they expect the program to continue to grow.

"We know that we've got more girls interested in coming to the program. I take emails and phone calls all the time from families asking for information about our program. So we're anticipating continued growth probably in the 10 to 15 per cent a year range."

There are other reasons for their success and behind it is a strong work ethic. They run programs throughout the season and into the summer. Plus, their rebranding of the female program to the Jr. Chaos has been a crowning achievement. 

"We're always going to be Cochrane Rockies, but we're also super proud to be representing that Chaos brand."

That same weekend, the SLS Family Sports Centre is hosting tryouts for the U15AA Provincial Challenge. Some of the best U15 players in the province will be here in search of a spot on one of six challenge teams.

To register for the Esso Fun Day click here.