Two players from the Cowichan Valley made it to the provincial championships with the South Island Royals bantam female hockey team late last month.
Ava Kennedy and Emma Wright suited up for the Royals, who finished fourth at the provincial championships in Langley on March 20-23.
“It was a really good experience, overall,” Kennedy said. “It was really fun. We made lots of memories, which was good. Me and my team have gotten really close over the whole season, so just playing on the ice with them every game, that was good.”
The players were pleased with their showing at provincials.
“We knew the teams would be hard,” Kennedy said. “I think we did pretty good. We were proud of each other.”
The tournament got off to an excellent start for the Royals as they defeated Kelowna 5-2, the first time South Island had defeated that club.
“At the beginning of the season they beat us, and in previous years we’ve never beaten them,” Kennedy said. “That was pretty nice.”
Kennedy and Wright play right and left wing, respectively, on a line centered by Peninsula’s Melissa Svienson. Both Cowichan girls previously played with the Royals in the peewee ranks two years ago, when they also made provincials, although this year’s roster looked a little different from that one.
“There were a lot of new players this year I hadn’t played with,” Kennedy noted.
The Royals play most of their games against the North Island Impact, although they play a few exhibition games against other bantam female teams on the Mainland. To qualify for provincials, they had to win a best-of-three series against North Island. The Royals swept the series two games to none, but it wasn’t as easy as that makes it sound.
South Island won the first game in Parksville by a 4-2 final score, then the teams met at the Cowichan Arena for the second game. The Royals were up 3-2 when North Island was awarded a penalty shot with fives seconds left on the clock and managed to tie the score. It took three overtime periods for South Island to score again and win the game 4-3.
Earlier in the season, South Island won the bantam Tier 1-A division at the Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival in Calgary in November. Wright scored the Royals’ first goal of the tournament, and Kennedy scored twice in a 5-0 win over the Rockyview Lightning. Kennedy also set up Wright for the game-tying goal in South Island’s 3-2 win over the Turtleford Northwest Sharks in the tournament final.
A second-year bantam, Kennedy plans to try out for the midget Royals or the major midget Vancouver Island Seals next year.
The bantam team was just one of three South Island Royals squads to qualify for the provincial championships. The midget team, which included Kerry Park’s Nicole Ladouceur and Lake Cowichan’s Madison Vaughn, qualified for their tournament in Fort St. John. The peewee Royals also qualified, but did not include any players from the Cowichan Valley.