While all their Peace Region hockey peers - be they boys, girls, men or women — have yet to play competitive hockey, the U15 and U18 Northeast B.C. Predators hockey players have begun playing their 2020-21 North Zone Female ‘A’ League.
The U15 team was in Williams Lake for a “super-weekend”, a trip where they can play a regular season game against each of the teams in the league, October 23 to 25. The U18 team got their season started in Williams Lake as well this past weekend, October 30 to November 1.
The U15 team started their season very well, going 2-1, beating Williams Lake and the Northwest Zone team, while losing 4-2 to Prince George. Not a bad way to start the league’s first-ever season.
“I thought we did pretty well for our first games of the season,” said U15 player Paige Brown. “This year is more steady, we have more consistency with players showing up. It’s nice, we didn’t always have that in previous years.”
Being able to play meaningful hockey games while other teams in the area are waiting for the go-ahead to begin game-play is a bit of a role-reversal for the Predators. The Predators Society has long been looking for a league to play in, a permanent home for its girls to play and grow alongside each other every year, but has had to settle for being a tournament team. This year is the first year of the North Zone Female ‘A’ League, the product of the people behind the four zone associations coming together to make a league a reality.
Next up for the U15 team is a home super-weekend at the Taylor Arena, November 21 and 22. The Northwest Zone team consists of players from Fraser Lake, Vanderhoof and Prince Rupert, among other places, similar to the Predators, who have players from Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, and Fort Nelson.
“It feels good getting to actually play other girls instead of always against each other, especially because we usually haven’t played many games,” said U15 player Morgan LaFleur-Hamann.
Brown remarked that each of the teams in the league was of a similar skill level, something the Predators didn’t always experience when they would have to travel to Calgary for tournaments, or go to other small towns in the North.
Finding a league for the Predators hasn’t been easy, and its not something the teams are taking for granted.
“It’s been a struggle to find games for them to play the last couple of years, and it’s really nice to have a place for the girls to call home,” said Jeremy Brown, director and coach of the U15 team.
Predators president Angela Ayre was instrumental in making the league a reality.
“We’ve been working really hard to find a place to play, and some like-minded folks in different zones were able to come together in special circumstances and make it work,” said Ayre.
“We’re just trying to develop as hockey players and members of the community. We preach a team atmosphere, we’re here for ‘we’, not for ‘me’,” said Jeremy.