UPDATED: The provincial championships have been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Okanagan will have two teams competing at the B.C. Bantam A Female Hockey Provincial Championships at Vernon’s Kal Tire Place North Arena.
The host Vernon Rellish Transport Lakers will be joined by the Okanagan champion Kelowna Rockets and six other squads from Thursday, March 19, culminating with the gold-medal game on Sunday, March 22, at 5 p.m.
The Rockets clinched the Okanagan pennant with a 3-2 win over Vernon to sweep the best-of-three Valley championship 2-0.
Holly Magnus gave Vernon a 1-0 lead, assisted by Tori Maltman and Reanne Muller, before the Rockets evened the score late in the first period.
Lily Roberts put the Lakers ahead 2-1 in the second, set up by Aimee Skinner, only to have the Rockets respond a minute later. Kelowna got the series-winner early in the third, and kept Vernon from getting the equalizer later with the Lakers’ goalie on the bench for an extra attacker.
The Lakers will play in Pool B against the Tri Cities Predators of Port Coquitlam, the Victoria Reign and the North West District (Smithers area). Vernon will open the tournament at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19, against Victoria. Vernon will take on the North West Friday, March 20, at 6:15 p.m., and close out the preliminary round Saturday, March 21 at 6:15 p.m. against Tri Cities.
The Rockets will be joined in Pool A by the Prince George Capitals, North Shore Avalanche (North Vancouver) and North East Predators (Fort St. John region).
The top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals on the final day, Sunday, March 22 (the second semi will be played at Kal Tire Place at 8:30 a.m.). The bronze-medal game between the two semi losers will go at 2:30 p.m. at Kal Tire Place North, followed by the gold-medal contest.
The provincial festivities start March 18 with a banquet featuring keynote speaker Rhonda Catt addressing these enthusiastic female athletes. The teams then will take in a Vernon Vipers playoff game against the Penticton Vees.
Vernon had an 11-2-3 record during the regular season, which included winning Wickfest, the Bantam Tier 1 Division at the World Female Hockey Festival hosted by Canadian Hall of Famer Hailey Wickenheiser, Feb. 1 and 2.
Vernon went 3-0-1 in the round robin, beating the Surrey Falcons 2-1, shutting out the Abbotsford Ice 2-0, edging the Rockets 2-1 and playing the Oceanside Impact of Parksville to a 2-2 tie.
In the championship final, the Lakers defeated the Falcons 3-2 in a shootout with goalie Mya Lesage picking up the win and Roberts scoring the shootout winner.
The Wickfest team was made up of Sophia Winstanley, Parker Davidson, Hailee Hunt, Faith Seehaver, Hannah Robertson, Hanna Menzies, Lily Roberts, Tori Maltman, Willow Elliott, Julia McLennan, Holly Magnus, Reanne Muller, Kaisy Huber, Mya Lesage, Jordan Tung and Hailey Sitter. Coached by Brent Magnus, Braden Robertson and Renee Huber.
The Lakers receive sponsorship from Rellish Transport, Imagine Pools and Waterscapes, The Tile Guy, Jespersen Industries Electrical Contracting and Braden Robertson Construction.