Jim Sinclair photo
In girls’ bantam hockey on the Island there are basically three teams to which ambitious 14 and 15-year-olds aspire. They are the North Island Edge; the Mid-Island Extreme and the South Island Breakers.
When it comes to the South Island crew there’s a definite Sooke influence thanks to the eight Sooke natives who suit up for the Breakers. That’s a high number when taking regional populations into account – a good testimonial to the local minor hockey system.
With these three teams representing what they do, it’s only natural that they’d see a lot of each other. Local minor hockey association president Gord Sleivert says the two squads (North and South Island) facing off Saturday at SEAPARC know each other very well and the games are predictably close and hotly contested.
The Sooke girls were tracked down along with their manager Shannon Madill midway through their pregame warm-up routine on Saturday, long enough for a group photo and a chance to respond to a few standardized questions.
Forward Brianne Sleivert was first, starting with her introduction to the game of hockey.
“I joined the Esso Fun Day (female hockey extravaganza) about seven years ago,” she recalled, adding that her top experience to date had been an appearance at the provincial championship as a peewee. Brianne’s hockey goals at present are to make the U16 team.
Jaime Millward (defence) was introduced to the sport by her hockey playing brother about 10 years ago.
“When I scored my first goal in novice,” she said on the subject of top hockey highlights. Her main goal is to continue as she has to this point – and that’s having a good time with her friends.
Forward Ashley Penney credits her dad and her sister with motivating her to lace-em-up for the first time about nine years ago.
Making the U16 team that will go to 100 Mile House is a high point for her so far.
“Making U18 Team BC, and probably… to the Olympics” are two of her future goals.
Forward Natalia Taylor says it was her grandpa who instilled the hockey desire in her, also nine years ago. Similar to another teammate, her scoring debut in the novice division has made the biggest impact in terms of memorable moments in the game. Her long-term goal is “To be on Team Canada,” she said with little hesitation.
“My brothers and my dad got me started about seven or eight years ago,” informed forward Jaelyn Dumont of her hockey initiation. Going to provincials and scoring her first goal share top spot on her list of memories to date. A selection to Team BC would fulfill at least one of her goals.
Blueliner Brooklyn Navarette is no stranger to the rink.
“My whole family plays,” she said, so it came naturally to her and has for 11 years.
She said her personal highlight to this point is being named Breakers’ captain.
Also specializing in defense, Carolyn Simonis credits Brooklyn with introducing her to hockey about four years ago. Provincial-level competition is also her most memorable experience. If she can parlay her hockey into a university scholarship she’ll be very pleased.
Wrapping up the octet of Sooke athletes is netminder Selena Madill. Selena’s brother and sister both played the game before she did, so moving into the crease was a natural progression for her.
“My first shutout in provincials,” was the standout in about six years of hockey. She’s got her sights set on U16 hockey for next season.
The following game summary appears courtesy of coach Ian Turner.
“The Breakers met the North Island Edge in a must-win game to advance to the Vancouver Island Bantam A finals. The game featured end to end action from the first drop of the puck. The teams exchanged numerous scoring opportunities but went in to the third period in a 0-0 deadlock. With 15:23 remaining in the game North Island jumped on a loose puck at the side of the net and buried it to take the lead. The Breakers picked up their game and pressured the North Island squad hemming them into their end for much of the last five minutes. The Breakers’ final scoring chance came with 20 seconds left as Brooklyn Navarette drove down the left wing and released a blistering slapshot that rang off the cross bar sealing the fate of the South Island girls. The future is bright for this group of mostly first year Bantam girls and the South Island Breakers Bantam Program as the team played head-to-head with the other Island Bantam A teams throughout the year. The Breakers now prepare for the Richmond Ice Classic international female hockey tournament in March by playing exhibition hockey against the Bantam A teams, Midget and Juvenile female teams and Bantam Boys teams.”