But don’t tell that to the 100-or-so Hingham fans who turned out at the John A. Ryan Skating Arena in Watertown Wednesday, when the Hingham Harborwomen smacked around Springfield Cathedral in the Division 1 quarterfinal game 6 - 2.
Although fewer fans showed up for the Harborwomen than for the Harbormen – it was mostly family and friends who cheered on the girls Wednesday, compared to the hundreds of fans who traveled to Lowell's Tsongas Arena to cheer the boys team on Monday night -- it was clear the fans cheer as hard for the girls as they do for the boys.
Fathers order their offspring to “Make them pay!” call opposing players “goons,” and curse under their breath.
But it’s not all negative -- several fathers were heard praising Cathedral’s players.
“Ooh, that goalie’s good!” said one.
“Nice pass” admitted another right before Cathedral scored its first goal against Hingham.
As a Cathedral player went sprawling face-down on her stomach across the ice after colliding with Hingham captain Chrissie Bowler, they celebrated their player’s might.
“Welcome to Chrissie Bowler,” shouted one.
Bowler, a senior who scored her 100th goal last week, said in an interview after the game that she didn't cause the collision, which stopped the game for a few minutes so the player could recover, “in a mean way.”
“Mr. Findley [the coach] always says you have a right to your ice,” explained the senior, who was wearing a sweatshirt and holding both her oversized hockey equipment bag and a pastel plaid shoulder bag.
“I wasn’t going to let it go uncontested,” said Bowler, nearly drowned out by the music playing as teams warmed up on the ice for the next game.
Also making sure the team didn’t let anything go uncontested was Sarah Schwenzfeier, a 15-year-old freshman who scored the first goal of the game.
Schwenzfeier [No. 21, above] said it’s fine by her that more people watch the boys. She also plays soccer and softball and enjoys playing hockey at this level -- she thrives on competition, not glory. The brown-ponytailed competitor with a big smile said she actually doesn’t like big crowds – they distract her from the task at hand: winning.
“I get really nervous when I play in front of lots of people,” she said.
Schwenzfeier isn’t the only one who doesn’t worry about whether people show up for the games.
Dot Bowler, Chrissie’s mother, said she was filming the game for a teammate who’s been in the hospital. Bowler said she enjoys watching her daughter’s accomplishments on the ice (“I’m so proud of her,” she says) and doesn’t worry so much about spectator turnout.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” she said.
Hingham School superintendent Dorothy Galo was watching from a corner in the stands. She said she loves hockey and is pleased to see that students have more athletic opportunities than she did.
“When I was in high school, girls were still playing half-court basketball,” Galo said.
Galo and Hingham High School Principal Paula Girouard McCann said they expected a much larger crowd for Saturday’s semifinal game against powerhouse St. Mary’s in Lynn -- it was logistics, not a lack of enthusiasm, that caused low turnout.
“It’s too far, it’s a school night, and we had a weather effect,” said McCann.
Among the Cathedral fans, who were significantly quieter than Hingham’s fans by the third period, the distance wasn’t too far for Rodney Shorette, a Monson resident who said he drove an hour and a half to cheer on a family friend.
But, said Shorette, the girls should be allowed to check. “I think the girls are just tough as the boys.”
Joe Burke, who lives in Dedham and closely follows girls hockey, disagrees.
He said the girls play with more finesse than force, and thinks Hingham can beat St. Mary’s this weekend because their previous two games were so close.
A lifelong hockey fan, Burke said he realized about 30 years ago that he likes watching the girls play more than the boys. The 78-year-old, wearing a purple baseball caps, had the rosters for both teams and said he drives all over New England watching girls hockey.
“The boys play like it’s a war, and the girls play like it’s a game,” Burke said.