Williams Lake Midget Female Timberwolves head coach Steve O’Hara said there’s plenty of positivity to take away from the team’s home tournament in the lakecity during the weekend.
A strong contingent of midget female teams from throughout B.C. including the Kamloops Blazers, Penticton Vees and the Vanderhoof Bears, and even the Alberta/Saskatchewan-bordering Lloydminister Elite Steelers, rounded out the five-team tournament at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex from Friday through Sunday.
And, despite not winding up in the win column, O’Hara sees plenty of improvement in his young hockey team, which has multiple bantam-aged players on its roster due to Williams Lake not icing a team in that age group for the 2019/20 season.
“We’re a young team playing against older teams, and I’m very happy we’re competing,” O’Hara said. “The games are close at this early stage of our season.”
Williams Lake opened its tournament Friday evening with a 4-1 loss to the Kamloops Blazers, then gave the Elite Steelers a run for their money Saturday morning in another 4-1 defeat. Facing the Vanderhoof Bears later Saturday afternoon, the T-wolves dropped a tight 2-1 decision, before the Vees, on Sunday morning, picked up 4-1 win over the lakecity squad.
“All those games were close,” O’Hara said. “Three out of four of those games we were right in it to the end, but we’ve just got to make sure our heads are in there for the full 60 minutes.”
O’Hara added he thought his club’s special teams units played well on the power play and penalty kill.
“We’ve certainly come a long way and we learned a lot of lessons this weekend,” he said. “All of this is building us into a better team. At this level in a game of hockey that’s fast, it’s nice to see what we practiced become part of the game.”
O’Hara thought the team played particularly well in its game against the Elite Steelers, noting he thought the T-wolves matched speed and competitiveness well in the contest.
“Hard work for 60 minutes is going to be key [moving forward],” he said.
The Timberwolves will now get ready to travel to Penticton to take on the Vees for a pair of league games this coming weekend, and players are already looking forward to January when they will take part in former Canadian national team women’s star Hayley Wickenheiser’s WickFest in Surrey.
“That’s a big event we’re looking forward to,” he said.
“I was blown away last year. The girls love it. Hayley’s out there hanging out with all the players. It’s awesome.”
O’Hara also thanked all of the volunteers and local businesses who helped make this past weekend’s tournament possible.
“They make this happen,” he said. “People lived here for two-and-half days. Williams Lake is going through a bit of a hard time right now but the local businesses still support the kids, and where would be without those guys?”