The West Kootenay Bantam Wildcats women’s hockey team won the Tier 1 Division in the Haley Wickenheiser World Hockey Festival in Calgary November 28 to 30.
The team played four round robin games against Prince George, Edmonton and Sherwood Park. The girls rolled through the round robin with two wins, one loss and a forfeit tie due to Prince George being stranded in Edmonton by weather.
That set up the final against Sherwood Park, the team that beat them in the round robin. The Wildcats battled hard and came up with a 2-0 win to take the title.
“It was a great weekend for the girls,” said assistant coach Jennifer Gallo.
“We’re trying to prepare for provincials and this was a great tournament to go to, to see the kind of calibre of play we can handle and to pick us up a bit.”
The girls team, coached by Gallo, D’Arcy Caron and Jeff Hunt will be participating in the Provincials starting March 15.
Gallo said the team has scheduled several more games in Calgary to get in some practice against tough teams.
The fact the Wildcats were even in the tournament was, according to Gallo, “pure chance.”
“What happened was, one of the other coaches tried to get the girls in but the event was filled at the time because there’s teams that come from all over the world to this tournament. It’s pretty big.”
She continued, “A spot opened up last minute and we were the ones to get the call. It was just, wow, the doors opened a bit for us and we took the opportunity.”
As if the win wasn’t enough to excite the girls, two Olympians, Haley Wickenheiser and Natalie Spooner spoke at the opening ceremonies.
Gallo said the two women speaking with the young girls really seemed to pump them up for what the future can hold for women’s hockey.
To top everything off, the winners, being the WK Bantams met with Wickenheiser after the tourney and even had a spot on CBC news.