The competitions don’t get much bigger for young female hockey players, and the girls from northern B.C. keep rising to the challenge. For the second year in a row, the Northern Wolfpack has won the Canada Cup West.
The team is comprised of young female hockey players selected from across the region. Those selected were from Williams Lake, Prince George, Vanderhoof, Houston, Smithers and Prince Rupert.
Prince Rupert was represented by Maddy Niesh along with Nicole Bateman from Smithers and Breanna Heimech from Houston, all three of whome were playing on the squad for the second year. They were joined by newcomer Gabriella Meier from Smithers.
The Wolfpack got off to a good start with a close victory but narrowly made it to the semi-finals as they ended the round robin schedule with two wins and two losses.
At this point, the team changed gears and took things to a different level.
They knocked out the Junior Pandas from Edmonton with an intense game by a single goal. In the final, they met a strong Kamloops U10 JR Blazers team.
The Blazers had topped the Wolfpack 3-1 in their round robin meeting and came out confident and strong in the the gold medal match.
The Wolfpack were down by three goals by the middle of the second period. That’s when the howling started. They scored early in the third period and continued to dominate the play. Midway through the third they scored again to come within a single goal with a 3-2 score.
The goalie was pulled in the last minute-and-a-half, and playing with no holds barred, they scored an equalizer in the dying seconds of regular time.
They went into overtime with the same confidence and determination and scored the winner after only 11 seconds to take the gold.
Colin Bateman, one of the parents, is a fan of the competition.
“The girls get to meet players from around the country at these tournaments and make some very strong bonds with their teammates. I hope it runs again next year,“ he said. “The final was super exciting and even though we were down by three going into the third, I felt we still had a chance.”