As promised (and you knew it) this is the continuation of last week’s Sports Talk.

We talked about the boys doing their thing down south, but there are just as many girls who are doing great things on the ice. Their hope springs eternal each year as well and while the goals may (or may not) be different, they’re just as committed to the end result: taking hockey as far as they can.

So here goes …

You will have read about Deanne Whenham, who is at Lindenwood University-Belleville in Illinois to play hockey. She, like a few others from the NWT, played at a hockey academy – Banff Hockey Academy in Alberta – for the past two seasons and obviously showed Lindenwood that she has what it takes. Her coach, Kat Hannah, certainly thinks so, saying that she takes care of the corners and the front of the net, does an excellent job communicating and supporting the play and battles especially hard in the defensive zone.

This is a good situation for Whenham because it’s a small university and that means she will have more than a decent shot at doing well. Don’t forget – she’s also a pretty good golfer and she’ll be playing with that team once hockey is done. When it comes time for the Canada Winter Games, you’ll see the difference playing collegiate hockey makes in her game. She will probably get plenty of time playing defence, but as coach Jessica Cox told me, there will be a heavy emphasis on two-way players.

I know some of you have told me Abby Webster is a Hay River player, but I consider her Yellowknife as well because she spent two years at St. Pat’s. So there. Webster is lining up with Olds College in Calgary for this season. She caught the eye of the school after playing with the Northern Capitals, a B.C. female midget AAA team, and it’s not hard to see why.

Webster has size – 5 feet 10 inches – and always manages to get herself into the right spot to make a play. I got a real good look at her during the Canada Winter Games camp in Yellowknife last month and she should figure in on the team’s top line for Red Deer. Her coach at Olds, Chris Leeming, said pretty much the same thing about Webster, noting her ability to create time and space for her teammates. Just like Whenham, collegiate hockey will make her a lot better come Games time.

In keeping with the collegiate theme, Susie Chambers will be part of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) Trojans women’s team again this season. Chambers is the epitome of a stay-at-home defender who does nothing but shut down opposing forwards every time they come down the wing. Of course, the women’s game doesn’t allow the type of hitting that you see in the men’s game, but I’ve played against women before in rugby. They can be 10 times worse than the men when it comes to playing physical.

Here’s the incredible part, though – she played 21 games with SAIT last season and didn’t even register one penalty minute. That is a feat. It’s hard to play hockey and not draw an infraction of any kind. SAIT didn’t have the greatest of seasons in 2017-2018, but that’s the best situation for any player looking to make an impact.

I guess I have to add the following two, even though they tried out for other provinces in recent years. I always gave Annie King a hard time about trying out for Team Saskatchewan a couple of years ago, but she’s still from Yellowknife so she’s still a Northerner. King has been at Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask., for the past couple of seasons, managing to crack the major midget AAA squad last season.

That’s impressive enough, but even more impressive is playing at Notre Dame. Take a gander at some of the players that have rolled through that school.

She plays defence and was in the top-10 in scoring for her team last season and no doubt she will be vying for a Team Saskatchewan spot next season. Wolfpack colours look better on her, though.

Anna MacCara is the other one. She’s been at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, B.C., and will be entering her third season with the female prep team there. In short, she’s good. She’s been good for a long time, even when she played with the boys on the Wolfpack teams all those years ago.

She could have come home and tried out for Team NT’s girls squad for the Canada Winter Games squad this year, but she decided to give B.C. a shot. I won’t hold that against her. Like King, Wolfpack colours suit her better.

There are several others who are playing down south in AAA or AA and I’m not ignoring you at all. I’m sure I’ll be hearing about your exploits because your parents are all awesome.

I know they are, because not one of you players would be where you are without them.

James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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