Four Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association talents are hoping to make the most of what will be a much different season as they suit up for Prince George-based Northern Capitals.
Veterans Brette Kerley and Pyper Alexander, and rookies Rachel Loewen and Keira Vermeulen — who competed last year as members of the Williams Lake Midget Female Timberwolves — will play on the team for the 2020/21 season.
The Capitals, members of the BC Female Midget AAA League, normally play a 32-game season, however, COVID-19 restrictions have forced the cancellation of all league games.
Capitals head coach Mario Desjardins, however, said it’s a great opportunity for individual and team development, instead.
“We are continuing to practice, work on systems and making the best of it as we possibly can with some of the constraints we can inside the arena,” Desjardins said.
“As for scrimmaging purposes we only have three players on the bench at once.”
Due to travel restrictions, teams in the BCFMAAAL are not allowed to play each other.
“So we’ve got to look outside the box,” he said. “We’re looking to Williams Lake and 100 Mile where we have a little bit more opportunity as far as playing-wise with the restrictions, and hopefully we can get some exhibitions in.”
Kerley, Alexander, Loewen and Vermeulen help round out the Capitals’ 17-player roster.
Both Kerley and Alexander are in their third and final seasons with the team.
Last season, Kerley led the Capitals in scoring notching 26 points in 32 games. She also signed a letter of intent to play for the Calgary Dinos women’s hockey club in 2021/22 at the University of Calgary.
“I’m just excited to be on the ice and be with the team no matter the circumstances with the new rules,” Kerley told the Tribune.
“A lot has changed but our team has adapted well and I think that we are all just itching to get on with the season.”
Desjardins said the season will be a good opportunity for Kerley to continue to develop her game and to be a leader on the team.
He added Alexander is another player who has taken on a leadership role.
“We’re working on finding Pyper a scholarship somewhere, as well, that’s suitable for her academics,” Desjardins said. “She’s come a long way skill wise, and she’s definitely a leader on the team and looking forward to her stepping up this year.”
Loewen — a defenceman — and Vermeulen — a forward — both have a lot to offer the team, Desjardins said, adding he was impressed with both players’ training camps.
“Rachel definitely fits in nicely and she’s going to have a lot of development opportunities through her school program and with the Capitals ice team,” Desjardins said. “She’s already seeing some improvement in her game, and getting locked into our systems. She’s making the investment and she’ll be a good player as she continues to grow through this season and moving forward.”
Loewen said she’s also looking forward to what the season brings, and the opportunity to develop her skills further.
Desjardins said Vermeulen arrived to camp ready to make an impact and said she was more than deserving of a roster spot.
“She’s a big player on the wing or up the middle,” he said. “She can also play defence when we need her to. She’s got a lot of diversity in her game, and I’m looking forward to coaching her and developing her personal skills.”
The Capitals’ season began in early September with practices and is slated to run until the middle of March.
“Hopefully by January we’ll be able to have some league games,” Desjardins said.