Goaltender Chelsea West of the bantam female Silverbacks tracks the puck as it is moved in front of the net and Hannah Menzies moves to make a poke check during a game in the Hayley Wickenheiser Wickfest female hockey tournament in Calgary, Nov. 17-18. (Image contributed)

Bantam female Silverbacks’ team makes a strong showing in Calgary tournament

Salmon Arm team just barely nudged out of the finals, goalie makes a shutout

The Salmon Arm Elite Hockey School female bantam A Silverbacks competed in the 9th annual Hayley Wickenheiser Wickfest world female hockey tournament in Calgary on the weekend.

Friday saw them open the tournament against the Big Sky Wildcats from Montana. Kasey Huber chased the puck in behind the defender’s net and passed out front to Hailee Hunt to open the scoring for the ’Backs. Montana would tie it up later in the first, and then take the lead half way through the second, which proved to be the game winner – the Silverbacks falling 2-1 in the opener.

The Olds Grizzlies were Salmon Arm’s second opponent of the day, and the teams didn’t disappoint, putting on a nail-biter from start to finish. Although the Grizzlies outshot and out-chanced the Silverbacks for most of the game, goaltender Chelsea West proved equal to the task, and with a stellar outing, carried her team to a 0-0 shutout tie.

Related: Bantam girls’ Silverbacks take gold medal in 100 Mile House tournament

A four-team pool meant that Salmon Arm got a second chance at the Grizzlies the next day, as they played them back-to-back. Another goaltenders’ battle ensued, the teams knotted at zeros until the Grizzlies got one late in the first. With time winding down in the third, however, Natasha Kociuba raced down the wing and carved hard to the net to tuck in a backhand, the game finishing in another tie at 1-1.

Sunday morning saw the final game of the round robin and Salmon Arm playing the host Calgary Spark. Natasha Kociuba opened the scoring just 48 seconds into the game on a 2-on-1 rush with Jada Brown, keeping the puck and burying it for the opening point. After Calgary tied it up late in the first, Jaylen Moraice-Budalich walked through multiple defenders before slipping the puck past the Calgary netminder. A great pass from Jada Brown to Kasey Huber for a wrap-around goal gave Salmon Arm a 2 goal lead, and a wicked Hailee Hunt wrist-shot from the top of the circle would put them up 4-1. Hunt would get her second of the game as the teams traded goals in the third, before Kociuba would get her second as well with a hard snap-shot just above the pad to seal the 6-2 victory.

Olds would beat Montana in their final game of the round robin to slightly edge Salmon Arm out of the finals.

The Silverbacks travel to Kamloops to face off against the Bantam Blazers this weekend.

Submitted by Peter Kociuba

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