The Salmon Arm U15 female rec hockey team celebrates winning their league and playoff championship banners. (Contributed)

The Salmon Arm U15 female rec hockey team celebrates winning their league and playoff championship banners. (Contributed)

Salmon Arm U15 female hockey team captures league, playoff championship banners

Coach says team recognized its potential early in the season

It was a two-banner season for the Salmon Arm U15 female rec hockey team.

The team, comprised of players aged 13 and 14 from Salmon Arm, Vernon, Revelstoke and Chase, went undefeated throughout regular season play and went on to win both the league banner and the playoff championship banner in the Female Super League.

“We played in a four-team division, Kelowna Lillooet, Penticton, and the girls went 16-0-3 on the season and they won their league championship pretty handily… and they ended up winning the playoffs as well,” said head coach Adam Blair. “I’m not sure the last time a team got multiple banners, but it was a pretty huge accomplishment, especially as we try to grow female hockey in Salmon Arm.

“I can’t remember the last time a female team put a banner in the rafters. I think it was a provincial team in the early 2000s. It’s been a long time.”

Blair admitted the season got off to an unusual start as there was still much uncertainty related to COVID-19 restrictions. After getting the go-ahead to play in October, he explained things came together at the last minute, with the team playing its first game before the roster was complete – and still coming away with a tie.

“I think we had a good start right out of the gates,” said Blair. “We tied our first game but just kind of went on a run.”

It wasn’t long before the team recognized what it was capable of.

Blair said in November the team took part in a tournament in Chilliwack – just managing to avoid the road closures. The event wound up being a team-building exercise for the Salmon Arm squad.

“Really, seeing the girls come together at that event, we ended up losing in the final of that tournament but you could really see, when we came back, just the togetherness, the camaraderie, that they were able to develop from being away and that experience, and just playing together and persevering through every game,” said Blair.

Despite their winning streak, Blair said the U15 players never got high on themselves and never lost focus.

“They really had a mission in mind,” said Blair. “Very few of them have ever won a championship, some had won tournaments but nobody had won a league, let alone a playoff championship before. I think they all set a goal really early in the year when they realized they had a pretty good chance. They just kind of kept fighting and working hard and practising.

“Even to the last day, there was an immense amount of dedication and determination on their part. Just an incredible team. No fighting, no drama, just a really cool group of girls.”

Read more: VIDEO: Ceremony celebrates Secwépemc flag in Salmon Arm’s Shaw Centre arena

Read more: B.C. hockey tourneys start in Salmon Arm, Vernon


lachlan@saobserver.net
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