Hockey, fun and smiles were the theme Wednesday night at Total Ice Training Centre as 26 girls from Williams Lake banded together to try out the sport for the annual Esso Girls Fun Day.
“We maxed out [with registration],” said Williams Lake Minor Hockey female co-ordinator Jen Loewen. “Brianna MacDonald and I worked really hard to get this together in conjunction with Total Ice, Esso Fun Day and Hockey Canada, and the idea is to try to bring girls into the sport and introduce them to hockey in a safe environment and have some fun.”
Mentors from the Williams Lake Atom division, Bantam Timberwolves and Midget Timberwolves were on ice helping players pickup the game, along with local coaches Jay Cheek and Lindsey Wood.
“I want the kids to enjoy themselves, first and foremost,” Loewen said. “Hockey’s not for everybody. I’d like to see some of the girls come back, and we’re hearing they want to. I’d like for them to want to play hockey, and we can help them out with that.”
Julia Landry was one player who said she had a blast at Esso Girls Fun Day.
“It was awesome,” Landry said. “I’m trying hockey for the first time, it’s amazing and I love it. I think I’ll play next year.”
A special guest also made an appearance as girls were leaving the ice to wrap up the evening — 2018 Canadian Olympic hockey silver medalist Brigette Lacquette, 25, stopped by to share some words of advice.
Lacquette, from the Cote First Nation in Saskatchewan, who grew up in Mallard, Man., 300 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, is the first First Nations female athlete to ever be selected for Canada’s women’s Olympic hockey team.
“Don’t take no as an answer,” she said of how she achieved her dream of playing at the Olympics.
“Basically, you have to do things you don’t want to do, and work hard.”
Asked what she would say to girls who don’t know whether they want to play all-girls hockey or on mixed teams with boys and girls, Lacquette said to do what makes you happy.
“I played boys hockey until I was 16,” she said. “I played one year of just girls hockey, then played at Pursuit of Excellence in Kelowna. I like playing boys and girls — boys hockey forced me to get my head up and move the puck quicker and have more awareness, but girls hockey has really grown. I grew up in the middle of nowhere so there was really no other option. But I look around and there are a lot of girls here. There’s hockey now across Canada so you guys are pretty fortunate.”