A pair of Williams Lake hockey players are taking their talents to another level for the 2021/22 season.
Both players for the BC Female Midget AAA Hockey League’s Northern Capitals of Prince George, 17 year olds Brette Kerley and Pyper Alexander have committed to play for the University of Calgary Dinos and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) Trojans, respectively, next season.
Following what’s been a challenging year filled with COVID-19 restrictions cancelling competition, both players said they are looking forward to eventually stepping back out onto the ice in an actual game setting, and are hoping the pandemic will have recessed by next season.
Kerley and Alexander both agreed their third and final season of minor hockey with the Capitals wasn’t the way they envisioned it, however, still managed to make the most of it, and will cherish the friends and teammates made over the years.
“We still practiced six days a week throughout the entire pandemic,” Kerley said. “We’ve been fortunate to be able to have as much ice as we did, and everyone’s been going to school, isolating and all that, so it was kind of good for the team, and building those relationships since we were spending more time together off the ice.”
In the 2019/20 season, Kerley led the Capitals in scoring with 26 points in 32 games (18G, 8A). Alexander recorded 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points during the same year.
During their final minor hockey season in Williams Lake as members of the Williams Lake Midget Female Timberwolves in 2018, Alexander and Kerley helped the team to a provincial championship.
“That’s definitely been a highlight for me,” Alexander said. “Even looking back at my first year as a Northern Capital was a huge step for my hockey and was a memorable one. This past year, with everything going on, was good, and fun all around. It was hard practicing and not playing any games but we all got used to it.”
Over the years, Alexander and Kerley have suited up alongside several other lakecity and Cariboo hockey players in Prince George, including Paige Outhouse (who recently wrapped up her first year of an athletic scholarship with the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers), Cadence Petitclerc-Crosby, Sarah Vermeulen and, this past season, Rachel Loewen and Keira Vermeulen.
Both Kerley and Alexander said they’re excited about moving on to the next level and continuing their careers.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Alexander said. “Getting recruited was definitely tough because of COVID, and lots of players have been struggling to find a place to go, so it was basically just e-mailing schools and seeing what they had available for spots.
“I’d heard good things about the [women’s hockey] program at SAIT and my coach said there have been quite a few who’ve gone there for their first year or two, then been able to move up to the U SPORTS level. That’s my eventual goal. To be at that level.”
The Trojans compete as a member of the Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference as a member of the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association.
Kerley and the Dinos, meanwhile, will play in the Canada West conference as members of the U SPORTS association.
As for academics, both plan to graduate this June from Lake City Secondary School in Williams Lake. Kerley said she plans on enrolling in the nursing program or science classes for her first year of school. Alexander will be enrolling in open studies with a focus on sciences.
“Playing with the Capitals and meeting all the different girls from all over the north has been a super cool experience,” Kerley said.
“Each year you meet new people — and see the calibre of play — and the growth of players from year one to year three. Our team, even away from the rink, was close. Even meeting new coaches each year and learning different perspectives from them — the experiences playing at different tournaments. All of it. It was a lot of fun.”