It's early January, and NHL players still haven't hit the ice... but in Northern Michigan, a team of female hockey players haven't missed a face off.
After sharpening their brains at work all day, these ladies sharpen their skates for a night on the ice. Tougher than they look, they ditch the pink lipstick for pink hockey sticks.
Made up of women of all skill levels, ages 18 to mid 60's, the Traverse City Women's League isn't for the timid. The four-team league started 10 years ago when two hockey moms decided to try hitting the ice as a passtime. And 62-year-old Marlene Bienkowski has been there since the beginning.
"The first group was pretty interesting," said Bienkowski, TC Women's League Organizer and Blue team player. "Most couldn't stop! They crashed into the boards to stop! So, we've gotten a little better than that over the years..."
And now there's a co-ed league, tournaments, and even a traveling league. But we all know... "What happens on road trips stays on road trips," said Bienkowski.
So is it all fun and games... Or friendly competition?
"Actually, that's why I came out to TC -- because I wanted to travel and play competitive hockey," said Amy Letts, TC Women's League Red team player.
But what Letts, known as "Red Helmet Girl," found... was a lot more.
"It's pretty fun... it's pretty special," said Letts. "I've met a lot of really awesome people and they're lifelong friends."
As their husbands watch from the bleachers, there's one man who's smack dab in the middle of the all-female action.
"It's pretty impressive," said Matt Haase, Women's League Referee. "It's tiring for me on a regular basis and they're out there working just as hard."
Once that puck drops, it's a competitive outlet, and a close circle of friends... but when it comes down to it, the question isn't are you man enough.. the question is... Are you woman enough?
If you're woman enough to join the TC Women's League, or would like to sign your kids up for a team, you can call 231-649-1226 or visit CentreIce.org. For ice time and scheduling call 231-933-7465.