The road trips have returned for hockey. How much do you think these girls missed that?
Apparently, quite a bit and not only did a lot of these young ladies embrace the joy that is hitting the road, they all returned with some new accessories.
A group of players from Yellowknife and Hay River joined up with some of their (new) friends from Yukon as the Yukon/NWT Wild for the Richmond Ravens Ice Classic in Richmond, B.C., this past weekend. The NWT contingent helped fill the rosters for the U13 and U18 outfits — the teams are based out of Whitehorse — with the U13 squad romping to a gold medal and the U18 ladies coming home with silver.
The U13 ladies were the class of the field in their division, winning all five of their games and not one of them were squeakers. When you add everything up, they scored a total of 50 goals and gave up a grand total of four. Do the math and they averaged 10 goals per game and gave up less than one. They polished things off by shutting out the host team, 9-0, in the final.
Kelsey Impett, who was one of the Yellowknife players on the team, said she wasn’t sure how they would do but it was obvious that they were going to be dominant by the end of the second game.
“I was surprised at how well we did,” she said. “I thought it would be more difficult but I think we were entered in the wrong division. I don’t think any of us knew we would dominate the way we did.”
What made things even more surprising for Impett was how fast the team came together, considering no one from either half of the team knew each other until shortly before the first game.
“I didn’t know one of the players from Whitehorse,” she said. “We had dinner together the night before and we got to know each other really quickly. After the first game, we were playing really well as a team and it was a lot of fun playing with them.”
The U18s, meanwhile, also ended up in the final thanks to a record of three wins and one loss in the round-robin, the lone defeat coming at the hands of the Lumby Stars, 2-0. The final wasn’t a guarantee, though, as the ladies had to win or tie their final round-robin game against the Nanaimo Clippers. They made sure of that, blanking the Clippers by a score of 8-0.
Jaci Dusome, one of the Yellowknife players, said the message before that final round-robin affair was one of pressure.
“Our tournament life was on the line and we knew we had to push through it,” she said. “If we didn’t get the result, we wouldn’t be playing for gold.”
And so it would be off to play for the big prize and they would have to overcome Lumby again, something Dusome said was tough to do the first time around.
“The first time we played them, they were really rough,” she said. “We knew we had to keep our emotions in check and not let them get to us.”
Even with the emotions in check, Lumby did come out the better of the two teams and would skate away with the gold medal, winning by a score of 6-1. The scoreline was inflated a bit as the Wild pulled goaltender Kamilah Gostick (from Hay River) and the Stars scored a pair with the net empty.
Just like the U13s, the U18s didn’t know anyone before hitting the ice but Dusome said the team bonding was fast.
“We were shy for about the first 30 minutes but we all clicked right away,” she said. “We played some games and we were all friends after that.”
But more than anything, the feeling of getting back out on the road was something both Impett and Dusome loved getting to do.
“I forgot how much fun it was to travel and be with a girls team again,” said Impett.
“It was so great to be back out on the road again after a couple of years,” added Dusome. “I can’t explain how much fun it was. We even sneaked into the pool on the last night but we escaped before we got caught.”