It’s high-octane female hockey in Williams Lake this weekend as visiting teams from Washington, USA and Kamloops travel the distance to take on the lakecity’s competitive female rep midget team.
The first in a series of pre-season games kicked off Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex with the T-Wolves taking on the Washington Wild, a U19 AA team from Seattle.
After a solid showing from both teams, and a final score of 1-1 for their first match-up and a 3-2 win for the T-wolves in their second, Wild head coach Shaun Miller said this is the second year the teams have faced off against each other in their respective hometowns.
“We’ve built a really good relationship with Roy,” Miller said after the game, of T-Wolves head coach Roy Call.
“Our teams are very similar. We’re both competitive at the same level. It’s awesome. This game ended the same as last year, in a 1-1 tie.”
For his part, Call said he expects great things from his team this year.
“We have a core group of really good players, they could play anywhere, at any level. We have a lot of chemistry with those players.”
Because not all hockey associations have competitive female teams, the girls will travel extensively and play all levels of teams, including major midgets, with a schedule of upwards of 60 games this season.
“We’re going to have a good year.”
Call, who’s daughter Brooke is in her final year with the team, said unlike coaching male teams where coaches would not even talk to the opposition, coaches of female teams enjoy a closer, tight-knit relationship like the one between Miller and Call which leads to more development opportunities for the players.
“We all go through the same things in female hockey. We fight for equal ice time for equal money, we fight to have teams, we fight for good ice times.”
Call said the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association is very supportive of female hockey, but that hasn’t always been the case. He credits previous coaches such as Mike Grace and Troy Weil with leading the way in developing local female hockey.
“We are incredibly fortunate. Now (a competitive female hockey team in Williams Lake) is expected as the norm. But it’s taken almost ten years to get here.”
Being competitive, and having the full support of the association means good players stay home, rather than seeking other opportunities elsewhere.
“The players stay because they know they’re going to be competitive, it’s good hockey and they can play it in their hometown.”
The team has high hopes this year for the provincials, which is going to be especially exciting as the WLMHA announced recently they have been awarded the opportunity to host this year’s female midget provincials March 21-25.
WLMHA Rep Coordinator Chris Swan said hosting the provincials in Williams Lake will be great for the community, the association and the T-Wolves.
“They’re usually attending the provincials, so it will be nice for them to be hosting it,” Swan said, who oversees WLMHA’s two female and four mixed teams.
“They’ve had quite a winning streak.”
While there is speculation that this may be Call’s last year coaching the team, Call said with a strong showing of bantam players coming up through the ranks, the thought of carrying on his coaching duties without his daughter next year is “intriguing.” But, he also would consider coaching a male rep team as well.
“They are always short of coaches so you want to help out where you can.”
Saturday’s games versus the T-Wolves will start at 10:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.