It was a big weekend for two local hockey teams and a magnificent weekend for girls’ hockey in Salmon Arm.
Both the Salmon Arm Minor Hockey Association’s U15 and U13 female divisions won their league playoffs March 12. The U15 playoffs were hosted in Lillooet while the U13 teams met in Kamloops.
“As an association we are absolutely thrilled with the growth of female hockey within the community and the success we are seeing by all levels of girls in the sport,” said John White, coach of the U13 squad.
He pointed out that female hockey continues to grow at a rapid pace and the association is looking forward to many more successes from the talented girls in the future.
The U-13 girls played hard in their round-robin games to earn a berth in the final on Sunday. White said they faced a very strong Penticton team which they had been battling all season.
“The girls were up 3-0 going into the third period; however, a valiant effort by Penticton tied the game 3-3 with about five minutes to go. The girls were able to score one more goal with about four minutes left in the game on the powerplay and held on for a nail-biting 4-3 victory,” White said.
Salmon Arm’s U15 girls travelled to Lillooet in second place in the league behind the undefeated Lillooet squad.
The team lost a tight first game 3-2 to Lillooet before beating Vernon 8-4 on Saturday night and again 6-1 in the Sunday semifinal. A rematch with Lillooet stood between them and the league banner.
Salmon Arm’s Avery Blair scored 10 seconds into the game before Lillooet tied it late in the first period. Another goal by Avery in the second period put Salmon Arm ahead 2-1.
Goaltender Alexis Godard and the rest of the team played perfect defensive hockey the rest of the way, said coach Adam Blair, giving the team their win and their second playoff championship in two years.
“I am so proud of the girls. They played with passion, heart and determination to achieve amazing success. They also played their hearts out for teammate Autumn Saville who was sadly hospitalized with a ruptured appendix just days before the playoffs,” Blair said.
Game MVP honours went to Jannika Pittendreigh in Game 1, Alexis Godard in Game 2, Danika Plante in Game 3 and Avery Blair in the final.
Melissa Brett, a local advocate for female hockey, confirmed that it’s taking off.
“Salmon Arm female hockey is steadily increasing in numbers and the association saw substantial growth this year.”
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