It took the three plus hours drive home south to figure out how to write this final feature of the hockey season. First, the result: St. Albert Blades won the Alberta Hockey Bantam Female A Provincial Championships, presented by ATB Financial, on Sunday. Their win against the Girls Hockey Calgary White Hawks was a thrilling contest that ebbed and flowed with energy and passion on the ice.
St. Albert took the lead in the first period with a goal by Aleena Taylor, her fourth in the tournament, assisted by Marissa Steinke. Calgary drew even in the second when Ella Kitchen put away her sixth goal of the weekend, assisted by Kayla Ironside and Chyenne Risling. The temperature was moving up towards 212 degrees in Castle Downs Arena on its last day of action before going into renovation for a couple of years. Both teams toughed it out during the final period, determined not to let a goal in. But the Blades put one in with 6′ 42″ on the clock, scored by Anika Neset. Some frantic moments with the goalie pulled were not enough for the Hawks and the score stayed that way: St. Albert Blades 2-1 Calgary White Hawks.
Congratulations to the players, coaches, and parents of the St. Albert team for your well-worked result. Thank you also to the organizers and volunteers for putting on an excellent display of female hockey over the last four days in Edmonton.
While winning is, undoubtedly, a pleasurable experience and an ever-increasingly important objective as young people progress through their chosen sports, this is developmental hockey and hockey helps with development. Hockey provides these young female athletes with many life skills: determination and dealing with adversity; friendship, teamwork; and creativity. While most certainly not mutually exclusive, strong is the new pretty.
The White Hawks and all the other teams in the Alberta Provincial Championships put in their top effort, built on six months of hard work, dedication, and preparation. The Hawks placed as league leaders without a loss in their season and progressed through the first stages of these provincial playoffs undefeated. Their goal difference was an outstanding 15 points, three times better than their nearest rival, giving testament to both good attack and defense. Calgary players Ella Kitchen and Carolyn Berze finished top in the standings for goals scored and assists.
So the long drive south was without a banner, girls. You came away, however with a silver medal each and many stories to share with friends that will be with you for a lifetime. For all of that, a huge shout out and thank you to the coaching team, Mark Maloney, Dale Risling, Steve Ironside and David Thomas. You are the best. Much appreciation to our manager, Kathy Noonan and to the parents who made it all, and continue to make it all happen for you, the players. As Mike Myers might call the season: “Yeah baby, it’s been brilliant!”
Enjoy your break, girls and take care, wherever your skates take you.
Go Hawks Go!