Facebook helps preparations
It wasn’t the colour they were hoping for, but Team Okanagan collected a medal in Under 16 girls B.C. Cup hockey action last weekend at the South Cariboo Recreation Centre in 100 Mile House.
On the team is Salmon Arm’s Hailey Haskell, a solid, stay-at-home defenceman who’s great at separating opposition players from the puck.
Okanagan, the defending champions, stuffed Vancouver Island 4-1 in the bronze-medal game, Sunday.
Former Salmon Arm resident Jenna Lazar, who played for Salmon Arm’s Midget Rep Female Techlectric team this year, pocketed a single as Okanagan opened the tourney with a 6-5 win over the Kootenays.
The game was tied 2-2 until Okanagan scored back-to-back goals to take a two-goal lead.
Kootenay responded with two goals to tie it midway through the third period, but once again Okanagan responded with two more goals to seal the win.
Okanagan fell 7-5 to eventual champion Fraser Valley.
Fraser Valley led 5-4 after the second period and was able to sustain the pressure to earn the win.
Lazar pocketed two assists as Okanagan ended preliminary play with a 5-1 win over Team North Saturday.
Fraser Valley grounded Greater Vancouver 4-1 in the gold-medal game.
As they headed into the B.C. Cup, the one and only time the girls met their teammates was at a two-day hockey selection camp in Princeton in January.
Several of the players wouldn’t see their Team Okanagan teammates again until their rendezvous in 100 Mile House.
Fortunately, the Okanagan girls have been able to overcome that lack of familiarity somewhat through the Internet. Using a dedicated team Facebook page, head coach Mark Elder of Penticton requested the players to work on team bonding exercises. Their first assignment was to make up a team cheer.
“We do a lot of team- building through that; it’s a great tool,” he said.
It might not be quite the same as sharing the same practice ice, but the Okanagan squad will have at least a slight connection as they head into action against five other zone teams from across the province.
Elder selected the Team Okanagan roster from a field of 38 players, ranging from Revelstoke to Osoyoos. Now in his third year with the U16 girls program, he has high hopes for his team.
“We’ll probably be the most skilled team there. It’ll be a great challenge,” he said.
Elder noted the tournament not only provided players with top-level competition, it also represented an opportunity for them to be seen by national scouts.
“It is a huge confidence builder. They’re scouted, they’re looked at by Hockey Canada,” he said prior to the cup.