It was a career-defining moment for Williams Lake’s Julia Flinton last month in the bronze-medal game at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s hockey championship.
Facing off against Laurier March 16 in Frederickton, N.B., Flinton, 21, and her University of Saskatchewan Huskies teammates won 6-3 to claim the team’s first-ever medal.
Flinton, a defenceman, recorded a natural hattrick in the first two periods — all of her goals coming on the power play — to be named player of the game. She was also awarded a tournament all-star.
A third-year player with the team, Flinton said after coming off a first-round loss at last year’s CIS championships to Alberta, winning the bronze this year meant a lot to the team.
“We decided to go into this year a little bit differently,” Flinton said. “Last year and the year before we were so young, but we have a lot of talent. This year we decided you know what, screw the fact we’re young, it doesn’t matter — we can compete against these teams that have six or seven fifth-year players and we can compete and come out on top.
“We definitely proved that and we were definitely not expected to do as well as we did.”
The Huskies opened nationals with a 3-0 loss to Montreal, before downing St. Thomas, 3-2, to reach the bronze-medal game.
Prior to reaching nationals, however, Flinton said she and her teammates experienced one of the most gruelling series of their lives during the Canada West finals against Regina — a 17-period affair that saw game one go to double overtime, game two go to quadruple overtime and game three go to double overtime, with the Huskies advancing after a 2-1 series win.
Flinton — who finished the regular season fourth in the country in defence scoring with three goals, 13 assists and 16 points in 28 games — added it was great to prove people wrong this season.
“I remember having a talk with my coach near the end of the second half of the season and I just felt like I hadn’t played my best,” she said. “She told me: ‘You’ve played your best all year, so having an amazing game is a whole new level for you,’ which was awesome because it’s been a while since I’ve hit that mark.
“I had a really good year and I couldn’t have done it without the team around me, and I can’t wait for next year. I want hockey to start right now. It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited for a new season.”