If you had to look for her on the ice, Samantha Wiley would stick out like a sore thumb in any hockey arena.
And not just because of her flashy pink helmet and funky green and pink skate laces.
The offensive sniper turned heads and grabbed everyone’s attention with MVP honours in four games at the 19th Annual Prince George Aboriginal Youth Hockey Championships in early April.
She amassed seven goals in the first two games alone, and helped the Buckley House Bears win the mainly boys’ championship in a 12-0 steamrolling of the Gitxsan Chiefs.
“It was amazing,” said the 10-year-old Rupertite, who was one of two girls playing on the team.
“I got to meet so many new people and we really bonded. I made a lot of new friends. It was really fun.”
Wiley is no stranger to playing on elite puck squads.
The Prince Rupert Helijet atom girls’ team member has done so twice just in the past few weeks, with another tourney victory coming by way of a five-game undefeated streak for her Northern Selects girls’ team, a squad based out of Terrace. She won MVP in the gold medal of that Ice Classic tourney in Richmond as well.
Wiley has no reservations about playing with boys and rarely has any nerves about going up against male competition. Probably because she can more than hold her own.
One of the forward’s first goals from the Prince George aboriginal tourney was like something from straight out of an NHL skills competition.
Streaking down the left wing, Wiley teed up a slapper (“Slapshot Sammy” her team affectionately calls her) and with her 64 km/hr drive, picked the top right corner of the net and went bar-down in one of the prettiest goals of the tournament. The shot isn’t even visible on her proud dad Kevin Wiley’s iPad until it’s behind the goalkeeper.
“I like to shoot a lot,” the forward admitted.
But despite her scoring prowess, the young Rupertite is equally as proud of her playmaking ability, a skill that helped her set up her linemates, Jordan LaGreca and captain Tye Peters. The line proved to be lethal as the games went on to help the Bears, most of whose players hailed from the Fort St. James area, win all four of their matchups versus Gitxsan (twice), Nak’adzil and Burns Lake. The team only iced 10 players and featured two forward lines and two defence pairings. Wiley saw significant time on the power-play and penalty-kill in the tournament that featured a handful of Prince Rupert-based kids on most teams.
But it’s not pure skill that has given the youngster so much success – Wiley works hours on end on her shot and puck-handling, often during her brother Hunter’s hockey games at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.
“We have a net [at home], but sometimes I just go out and play in the corner and just shoot around [at the centre’s spare practice net],” said Wiley, who also adapted to a brand new drill in Prince George – an intricate two-on-one rush led by Bears’ coaches Bill Geernaert and Sean Peters.
“I’ve never done [the drill] before, but my brother has. I really liked it when I got used to it,” she said.
Her Terrace coach has advised Wiley to play on a boys’ team regularly and she may get that chance moving up to peewee next year in the Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Association.