Wednesday, January 21, 2009
By David Harper, Staff Writer
There's no record of any "ice girls" being present in 1875, when the first modern indoor ice hockey game was played in Montreal by students at McGill University.
But the game has evolved, and this season, the Tulsa Oilers home games feature Ice Girls.
The 10 women range in age from 20 to 24. They cheer on the team, but they also perform a variety of promotional roles for the Central Hockey League squad.
Oilers General Manager Taylor Hall said the Ice Girls were added to make the games more of an overall experience for this first season in the BOK Center.
"We want to entertain people from the time they arrive until the time they leave," Hall said. "The girls add a lot to the show."
While the Ice Girls do "a little cheerleading here and there" during the games, they really should be defined more as "hostesses for our team," Hall said.
They even help with minor on-ice maintenance.
The NHL's Dallas Stars have employed a crew of "Ice Girls" for several years. They take to the playing surface during television timeouts and shovel excess "snow" off the ice to make it smoother for the players.
Obviously, they all can skate.
Jessica Rankins, 23, said she "can skate enough to not hurt myself." Of the Oilers Ice Girls, she said, two are proficient skaters and regularly tidy up the ice during timeouts, two are taking lessons to improve their skating skills, and two others can skate when they have to.
With only 32 home games, Rankins
— who coordinates the squad — said being an Ice Girl is a "moonlighting" type of job. She also works at a mortgage company and as a fitness instructor.
Most of the women were cheerleaders or on drill teams in school. To her knowledge, only one had any great familiarity with hockey before taking the job, Rankins said.
Would Lord Stanley — the benefactor of the 116-year-old Stanley Cup — or even modern-day, old-time hockey curmudgeon Don Cherry approve?
Hall said that although the ice-girl concept might not seem to jibe with the tradition of the game, it's important for the sport to stay modern.
"Hopefully they are here to stay," he said. "We love having them on our team."