Shaping the future of northwest girls hockey
The seeds have been planted for the next crop of northwest female hockey players, with the novice/atom girls team already taking shape and looking to grow together over the next four or five years.
Coach Brad Andersen's team of nine- and 10-year-olds is made up of Prince Rupert players Elly Lowe, Samantha Wiley, Jordyn Carter and Payton Colussi as well as players from Terrace and Kitimat. This year, the potential is there to have them rival, or maybe even surpass, the success of long-time coach Mario Desjardins' team of girls who made history last year as bantams, winning provincial tournaments all season and dominating championship games.
"These girls coming up ... they're all really even in talent," said Andersen of his team, noting that it's an added benefit that they're already playing together at such a young age.
Late last year the team faced off against a Peewee team from Hazelton in Terrace.
"I put the team together that I think should be the team for the next four or five years," said Andersen of that game's roster.
And the team performed outstandingly, winning 12-2 and showcasing strong skating skills.
"It was pretty impressive," he said.
Especially impressive is the team's second year novice goalie Elly Lowe, from Prince Rupert, one of the four players picked up from the community.
"She's an exceptional goalie," said Andersen.
"Her dad was a goalie, he played junior, major junior ... he was a pretty high end goalie and now you can see it in his daughter. She'll be the best girl goalie up here coming up in her age," he said.
"If she stays with it she's going to be really good."
The team is also putting its efforts towards anti-bullying initiatives.
Andersen is also the coach for Skeena Middle School's hockey academy and connected to parent-academy Pacific Rim Hockey Academy's anti-bullying efforts. He and his wife, Nikki, bought each team member a pink anti-bullying t-shirt for Christmas and the girls played a game wearing the shirts over top of their jerseys to show support for national anti-bullying day on Feb. 27.