Local midget rep hockey players get the rare opportunity to play for a championship on home ice.
The North Island Impact and Oceanside Minor Hockey will host B.C. Hockey’s midget A girls’ provincials next week (March 19-22) at Oceanside Place.
Eight teams from around British Columbia will gather for the tourney. The Impact have played most of those squads and know they can be competitive with B.C.’s best.
“We can be right in the mix if we want to be, for sure,” said Dave Young, coach of the Impact.
The North Island squad is made up of girls from Parksville, Nanaimo, Lantzville, Port Alberni and Campbell River and most are in their first year of midget rep.
“We were a bit challenged right out of the gates due to the fact that we had a lot of first-years that hadn’t played competitive hockey before,” Young said. “We ended up bringing a whole bunch of girls in that played house, for lack of a better term, and it maybe isn’t as structured a game.”
But the players showed a willingness to work at learning systems and “came around,” the coach said.
“They’ve put in the time and the commitment and the effort and it’s been good. We’ve definitely gotten better this year,” said Young.
Next week’s tournament will feature great hockey, the coach said; it will be fast and every team there will have players capable of moving on to higher levels. As for the home team’s chances, Young said the Impact can be successful at provincials if they get pucks on net, limit mistakes and bring the right effort.
“In order for us to succeed, we have to be the hardest-working team on the ice every shift, every minute of every game,” said Young.
Parksville players include Taylyn Squire, Syvanna McNichol, Dakota Harstad, Alicia O’Connell and Peyton Carter.
Sunday’s opening ceremonies are at 6:45 p.m. followed by the feature game at 7:15 p.m. between North Island and Kamloops. North Island faces Fort St. John on Monday at 6:15 p.m. and then Richmond on Tuesday, also at 6:15 p.m. Playoffs begin Wednesday at 8 a.m. with the gold-medal game at 8 p.m.
Kristen Arnold, tournament chairperson, said the parent groups of both the North Island Impact and South Island Royals have worked very hard with preparations.
“I’ve watched them work tirelessly over the last six months in order to make this happen,” she said.
Some of the players have been to provincials before; the majority haven’t, Arnold said, “so they’re super excited.”