On Saturday, Jan. 5, the Sooke Thunderbirds Initiation hockey team played an exciting home game at the SEAPARC arena against the Kerry Park Islanders, visiting from Mill Bay.
After four months of prolonged practice and skill-building, this game marked the first game ever played against an official opposition for both teams.
The game lasted 50 minutes, with shift changes occurring every two minutes. While the Sooke Thunderbirds had more than two complete line changes, the Kerry Park Islanders played short-handed with a smaller roster of nine. So while Thunderbirds could rest-and-recuperate after two minutes of intensive play, Islanders often played double shifts. Despite the added challenge of more individual ice-time, the Islanders managed to keep pressure on the Thunderbird’s goalie.
Initiation hockey players are first-time hockey enthusiasts between five and six, and consist of both girls and boys. The Sooke Thunderbirds have 16 players, six of whom are girls. Many of these players just learned to skate in September. With only four months experience typically practicing two hours a week, these kids were skating, handling the puck, passing, scoring and defending with incredible ease.
Scores were not kept, though goals were made on both sides. As Thunderbird Coach Allan Wrigley says, the main objective for these players is to “go out there and have as much fun as possible.”
On that front, the game was definitely a win for both teams!