After travelling almost 4,000 kilometres across the country to play hockey, Williams Lake’s Hallie Fisher is settling in nicely with her new teammates in Timmins, Ont.
The 16-year-old forward for the Timmins Kiwanis Midget ‘A’ Falcons female hockey team is approaching her future in a different way than most.
“To my former teammates [with the Williams Lake Midget Female Timberwolves] I wish them all the best and hope they’re successful this season but my focus and my goals now are about what’s available in the future and that’s all been because of the Falcons,” Fisher said.
The opportunity to play for the team, who plays its regular season in a bantam ‘AA’ boys league but competes against other midget female ‘A’ teams across the province at tournaments, came after her former head coach with the Timberwolves, Pete Montana, transferred to Timmins for work. He also took an assistant coaching position with the Falcons.
“I think Hallie’s approach is a little bit different than most of the players at her level of commitment to the game as a whole,” Montana said. “She worked extremely hard last year to improve not just her skills but her mental side of the game.”
The Falcons finished as the bronze medalists at last year’s Ontario midget female ‘A’ provincials. This year, the goal is to improve even more upon that finish.
Twenty-four teams will compete at the Ontario provincials. In B.C., just eight girls teams will vie for a provincial title — a difference Montana said is vast.
Asked why she made the move, Fisher said she hopes to play in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) — a women’s junior hockey league in Ontario — or attain a university scholarship to play either NCAA hockey in the U.S. or collegiate hockey in Canada.
“I felt like there was a better opportunity here if I wasn’t going to be playing major midget hockey in B.C.,” Fisher said. “The experience has been really good. The team and the manager and coaches have really accepted me and have been really supportive.”
She noted the level of competition, especially competing against bantam-aged boys, has been a challenge.
“I’m finding it higher competitively here because we play boys, so they’re a little bit rougher with us,” she said.
“When we play a female team it’s not so good for them,” Montana added. “It’s fair to say when we go to tournaments we tend to dominate a little bit.”
The Falcons will get a major test this weekend when they travel to a tournament in Ottawa where they’ll have a chance to compete against last year’s national champions, Sudbury.
Montana described Fisher’s playstyle as a physical one.
“She doesn’t back down from anybody,” Montana said.
Outside of hockey, Fisher said she’s fitting in nicely with her peers on and off the ice. Fisher is billeting with a teammate’s grandmother while her family still lives in Williams Lake.
“[The highlight] has been the relationships I’ve formed with my teammates and people who don’t even play hockey at school,” she said. “They’re friendships I’m going to carry with me my whole life.”
As for what the future holds for Fisher, Montana said the sky is the limit.
“This was a big jump this year,” he said. “We’ve talked about next season, a lot. It’s not about this season, it’s about next season and now that we’re at this point and we’ve seen the kind of progress she’s made, it’s an open door.”