Sports

Vernon Lakers make Okanagan cut

Team Thompson-Okanagan hockey players take a timeout at the outdoor Centennial Arena, from left, front, Jenna Fletcher, Makenna Southam, Samantha Head, Mairyn Tucker, Andie Kaneda and Makena Hoffman. Back, from left, Paige Chapdelaine, Hunter Joseph and Olivia Comeau. Missing: Ripley Burd. - Kevin Mitchell/Morning Star
Team Thompson-Okanagan hockey players take a timeout at the outdoor Centennial Arena, from left, front, Jenna Fletcher, Makenna Southam, Samantha Head, Mairyn Tucker, Andie Kaneda and Makena Hoffman. Back, from left, Paige Chapdelaine, Hunter Joseph and Olivia Comeau. Missing: Ripley Burd.
— image credit: Kevin Mitchell/Morning Star

Some scored or set up goals. Others used physical play. And a few simply played it steady and simple.

All strategies worked as nine members of the Vernon Sladen Moore Bantam A Lakers made the grade at a B.C. Hockey Under 16 female regional tryout camp last month in Lumby.

Forwards Ripley Burd (Kelowna), Olivia Comeau, Samantha Head, Andie Kaneda, Jenna Fletcher, Mairyn Tucker and Paige Chapdelaine will join defencemen Makenna Southam and Hunter Joseph on Team Thompson-Okanagan. Makena Hoffman of the Vernon Bantam Tier 2 Renegades was also selected.

They face five other regional teams in the Female Under 16 B.C. Cup, April 4-7, at the Island Savings Centre in Duncan.

“We are thrilled to renew our partnership with B.C. Hockey on another major event for the Cowichan Valley,” said Island Savings Centre manager John Elzinga. “We especially look forward to another opportunity to promote female participation in sport, and grow girls’ hockey.”

B.C. Hockey’s Female High Performance Program was established to identify and train athletes and team personnel for possible participation at provincial, national and international events.

Southam, who turned 14 last week, started regular family skates at age four and like her father, Jeff, an assistant coach with the Lakers, is a natural-born blade runner.

“I was probably noticed (in Lumby) because of my aggression,” said Southam, an Edmonton Oiler fan. “I’m not the biggest player, but I’m not scared of going in the corner with the bigger girls.

“My strong points playing defence are my ability to think on the spot and my ability to make quick decisions.”

Southam wasn’t surprised to see so many Lakers chosen in the group of 32 campers.

“I knew we had the potential. Vernon’s female hockey has really been excelling and this just shows it.”

The Grade 8 VSS student dropped Rep soccer to devote more time to hockey. She has dreams of playing college hockey in Canada.

“I do homework, play hockey and get in a little social time with friends. My dad is always encouraging us (younger sister Carly is also a sweet skater) to go in the shop and work on our shots.”

Fletcher, who celebrated her 14th birthday on Valentine’s Day, is a towering, offensive right winger who began skating when she was six. The Lakers smashed chocolate cupcakes in her face to mark her birthday at the end of practice Wednesday night.

“I’m a pretty fast skater, I have a decent shot and I think I see the ice well,” said Fletcher, who plays volleyball at VSS and enjoys downhill skiing. “I try to be tough on the puck. I think that I hustled (at trials) a lot and tried my hardest.”

The camp consisted of drills on day 1 and two scrimmages on the final day.

“Going into the room was intense,” said Fletcher, of the team decision process. “They gave us thing to work on to get better for the B.C. Cup.”

Born in China, Fletcher is a huge Vancouver Canuck fan “because all my family watches them.”

The Lakers host the provincial Bantam A championships, March 16-20, at Wesbild Centre.

They will sponsor an all-female ice time Saturday, March 9 from 12:45-2:15 p.m. at Civic Arena, open free to players aged 5-14.

Vernon hopes to attract enough girls to ice Midget, Bantam and Pee Wee teams next year.

 

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