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SI.com: NHL Ice Crews

This week, Sports Illustrated has photos from just about every team that has Ice Girls: the Ducks, Bruins, Flames, Storm, Blackhawks, Bluejackets, Stars, Oilers, Kings, Panthers, Predators, Islanders, Flyers, Penguins, and Lightning. Click here to go there now.

2011 Calgary Flames Ice Crew

The Calgary Flames have an on-ice crew and an off-ice crew. Click here to learn a little bit more about both!

Trials held for hockey dance team

2009-flames_evanFlames not yet sold on concept
By Vicki Hall
Calgary Herald
November 12, 2009

CALGARY – Cheerleaders in hockey are considered an American phenomenon, like tailgating in football or the singing of Take Me Out to the Ball Game in baseball.

Looking for ways to enhance the experience for the ticket-buying public, the Calgary Flames investigated the idea of a cheer team this fall, even holding an audition for young women with dancing experience.

The NHL franchise retained the services of Dana Murphy, the longtime choreographer for the Calgary Roughnecks Drill Crew, of the National Lacrosse League.

“They just want to take baby steps,” Murphy said Wednesday. “I think it’s more like in-stands, sideline stuff with the goal of getting on the ice eventually.”

A tentative game plan called for the dance team to debut later this month at games for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. Murphy said it would be a trial run, of sorts, to see how the crowd took to the idea.

But Ken King, president of both the Flames and Hitmen, is not sold on the idea.

“In my view, cheerleaders are not the kind of thing that goes with Canadian hockey,” King said Wednesday. “I think we have a very serious team and a great fan base.”

King said he has not received a proposal from his staff suggesting the creation of a cheer team. His entertainment department is simply exploring all options.

The president would have to sign off for the cheerleaders to perform at Hitmen or Flames games.

“I’ve always said this is a pure hockey market,” King said.

“A pure hockey market by my definition — and I think I coined the phrase, pure hockey market–is respect for the game, understanding of the game and appreciation. It’s about the hockey.

“What I care about is making sure we have the best hockey product on the ice.”

The Flames raised some eyebrows back in 2003 by unveiling the Fire and Ice Girls, who sweep snow with shovels during stoppages in play. The girls–all of them fit and extremely attractive–wear skimpy outfits that display bare midriffs.

The Fire and Ice Girls also help with in-house promotions and contests at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

But the idea of a dance team takes the concept to a new level.

About 25 young women between the ages of 18 and 26 attended the September audition, with the vast majority of them having formal dance training.

Murphy has studied dance–including ballet, jazz and hip-hop– since she was a little girl. Upon graduation from high school, she joined the Calgary Stampeders Outriders cheerleading team.

From there, she helped found the Drill Crew more than eight years ago.

“They’re as important to us as the team itself,” said general manager Brad Banister. “They’re just so involved with charity and the entire Calgary community.”

The Drill Crew professional dance team is comprised of 16 to 18 female dancers that perform at all Roughnecks home games.

“We have our own fan base,” Murphy said. “We’re part of the entertainment.”

Murphy is extremely dedicated to her craft, and she sincerely hopes old-school hockey fans can keep an open mind about what may seem a novel concept.

“Obviously it’s a new thing,” she said, “but promoting healthy, talented girls is not going to be the end of the world.”

Q&A with Kyla from the Calgary Outriders

Kyla is a member of three Calgary Dance Teams: CFL Outriders, NLL Drill Crew and NHL Ice Crew. (Photo courtesy of Mark Mennie)

Kyla was born and grew up in Sydney, Nova Scotia, studied Art at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, Newbrunswick and moved to Calgary almost 5 years when I was 21,where she now works as an Executive Assistant for a Buying group.

She’s been dancing now for 22 years. She danced competitively in Nova Scotia, and upon moving to Calgary she joined Outriders, the cheer team for the CFL Calgary Stampeders, and has been taking any opportunity to dance ever since.

This is Kyla’s 4th season with the Outriders. She is in her first seasons with the NLL Calgary Roughnecks Drill Crew and the NHL Calgary Flames Big Country Ice Crew. She also got married this past June, and says her husband is very supportive of her commitment to dancing.

Kyla took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few of our questions.

(Photo courtesy of Mark Mennie)

UC: How cold does it get at the end of the Canadian Football League season?

K: It can get extremely cold at the end of the season. Come Grey Cup we are in the -20C (-4F) range. For a game in early October we had our winter hats and gloves added to the packing list. The forecast was calling for snow. Sometimes we are lucky and can make it to the end of the year with no snow but it looks like we won’t be so lucky this year. We are tough girls though. We still have fun in snow, rain, or whatever else is thrown at us. The key to keeping warm is to keep on dancing.

UC: I saw that your squad traveled to Edmonton for a game? Did you cheer on the sidelines? Is this What’s the fan reaction like when you are on the road?

K: We travel to Edmonton every year for the Labor Day rematch game. The Edmonton team travels to Calgary for the Labour Day game as well. We both perform on the sidelines and do a performance during one of the time-outs. The fan’s reaction is funny. They think we hate each other when that is not the case at all. We decorate The Edmonton team’s locker room in green and the do the same for us (in red of course). The guys on their team even barbecued us hamburgers before the game. We get along great and get to see them again along with the rest of the CFL cheer teams when we all get together for Grey Cup.

UC: What do fans think of Pro Cheerleading in Canada?

K: We have a great fan base here in Canada. People really respect what we do and take the time to tell us so and thank us. I think the main thing people don’t know about us is this is a volunteer position so when you see us on the sidelines or working at promotional events that is all simply for the love of the sport, dance, and the fans. I think our fans realize all our hard work we put in and appreciate it.

UC: Any hobbies?

K: I love to cook. Being in the kitchen is calming for me.

UC: What do you like to do to relax?

K: Relax is not something I do very often. When I find I have a free day I usually sign up for something else or volunteer and that is the end of that. When I do have free time I like to hang out with my girls, laugh with my sister or cuddle up and watch a movie with my husband. Since I am always on the go, when I do have free time I like it to be low key.

(Photo courtesy of Mark Mennie)

[Calgary Stampeders Outriders]

[Calgary Roughnecks Drill Crew]

[Calgary Flames Ice Crew]