Three girls from Hay River recently helped a team from Yellowknife capture gold at a prestigious hockey tournament in Calgary.
The young players – Jenna Demarcke and sisters Chandelle Leonard and Layne Leonard – are teammates on the Yellowknife Wolfpack senior girls’ team that won gold for the second year in a row at the Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival from Nov. 16 to 19.
The Wolfpack defeated EG713 from Edmonton 1-0 in the midget tier 2-B division gold medal game. However, it took multiple rounds of a shootout to get to that final score.
“Ten people had to shoot in the shootout,” said Chandelle Leonard, a 13-year-old who plays defence. “It was pretty scary.”
Her 15-year-old sister Layne Leonard, who plays defence, also found the shootout exciting.
“It was pretty intense,” she said.
None of the Hay River girls was selected to take a try in the shootout.
“No, thank God,” said Layne Leonard.
“It was pretty nice to win like that,” she noted. “It was the first time it’s happened to our team the Wolfpack.”
Demarcke agreed the shootout was exciting.
“And we even played the exact same team in the finals that we played last year,” said the 13-year-old who plays right wing. “They were better this year.”
Regan Bulger of Yellowknife eventually scored the winner to end the epic game.
Kaylee Grant coached the girls in Calgary and said it was stressful enough for the players, but even worse for her.
“I’m carrying a bit of the stress myself because I’m the one tapping the players on the shoulder telling them to go out,” she said. “The next decision is a make-or-break one and luckily, we made it.”
The Wolfpack was one of five teams in their division.
On the way to the final, they won against the Lacoka Warriors of Alberta, the Montana Big Sky Wildcats and the Tri-Port Wild of B.C.
EG713 was supposed to be the final round-robin game for the Wolfpack, but both teams had identical records of three wins and no losses and they were destined to play in the gold medal game. So the teams agreed to make what would have been a round-robin game the championship encounter.
The girls from Hay River enjoyed their second year at the Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival.
The tournament, also known as WickFest, is the creation of famed Canadian hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser.
“There are a lot of teams,” noted Demarcke. “There are even teams from the U.S.A.”
Chandelle Leonard also enjoys the tournament.
“I like playing the hockey and meeting new people,” she said.
Layne Leonard called the tournament really fun.
The three Hay River girls are playing on the Yellowknife team because of the absence of an ice surface in Hay River with the rebuilding of the Rec Centre, and the fact that the Wolfpack, which is made up of girls ranging in age from 12 to 18, was looking for players.
The Hay River trio don’t have to travel to Yellowknife to practise with the team. They only travel to tournaments.
-with files from James McCarthy