Three girls from Hay River helped a team from Yellowknife win a banner at the Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival earlier this month in Calgary.
The Yellowknife Wolfpack won the Midget Tier 3 Division.
Most of the players hailed from Yellowknife, but there was help from Hay River and Fort Smith as each community provided three players to shore up the roster.
The Hay River players were Helene McKay-Ivanko, who plays defence, goalie Kamilah Gostick and forward Jenna Demarcke.
“It was really exciting,” said McKay-Ivanko of the tournament. “It was really fun.”
Although she had played before at the Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival, it was her first time winning a medal at the event.
“I find it’s a very good opportunity to go meet some new people and just play with new people,” said the 13-year-old Grade 8 student at Ecole Boreale. “It’s just a really good experience.”
McKay-Ivanko explained that the three girls from Hay River – and three others from Fort Smith – didn’t get to play or practice with the Wolfpack before the tournament in Calgary.
“They just pick people from Hay River and Fort Smith, and you just go up to them for one tournament and you just see how you play with them,” she said.
McKay-Ivanko noted she had played before with her defence partner.
“But there were multiple people on that team that I’d never played with, and I had to find out how they play and what’s their speed and how they like to do things,” she said.
Rob Hart, the coach of the Wolfpack, said the new players from Hay River and Fort Smith had no effect whatsoever on team cohesion
“They started getting used to each other quickly,” he said. “There are a lot of girls who will be trying out for the Arctic Winter Games team, and it was great to get them together on the same team.”
The Yellowknife Wolfpack won gold in its division thanks to a 7-2 win over the GHC Jr. Inferno squad from Calgary in the final in mid-November.
It was a reversal of fortune as the Inferno defeated the Wolfpack by a score of 5-3 in a round-robin meeting just before the final.
The Wolfpack played four round-robin games with three lopsided wins to their credit, and the loss to the Inferno as the lone blemish on their record.
The Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival, often called WickFest, is celebrating its 10th anniversary during the 2019/2020 season.
Two sections of the festival were held in Calgary in November and another section is set for Surrey, B.C., in early 2020.
WickFest attracts teams from around the world.
– with files from James McCarthy