Summer blooms in Grande Prairie

Coldstream's Summer Jespersen finds sporting success in Grande Prairie.

Summer Jespersen went to Grande Prairie to get an education.

Along the way, she was a walk-on signing for the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves soccer team and she also made the city’s senior women’s hockey club known as the Panthers.

Jespersen, who turns 19 in May, played centre for the Panthers at the Western Shield tourney for senior female A and B teams in Surrey. The Panthers lost 3-0 to the Selkirk Blazing Stars of Manitoba in the gold-medal B game two Saturdays ago. Grande Prairie lost the 2012 senior B final to the Kamloops Vibe, a team the Panthers battled to a scoreless tie against in their tournament opener.

“They (Selkirk) were a very good team,” said Jespersen, a Kal grad. “We’re a good passing team and everybody can score, but we were just missing on our chances in the Westerns. I think I played OK. I had chances to score, but was unlucky. I kept missing the net or hitting the goalie in the chest.”

The Panthers won the provincials in Edmonton to earn a berth to the Westerns. They grounded the host Richmond Thunder 4-1, edged the West Central Icehawks of Regina and lost 4-0 to Selkirk in preliminary games.

The Blazing Stars went into the final undefeated. It was the Panthers’ ninth Western Shield medal in the past 11 years – three gold, three silver and three bronze.

“It’s good hockey,” said Jespersen, the second-youngest player with the Panthers. “I played on the second line and was second-line powerplay and penalty kill so I got lots of ice time.”

Grande Prairie won the Peace Cariboo league en route to the Westerns.

Jespersen is a Canucks fan first and an Oilers fan second. Her favourite NHLers are Mason Raymond of Vancouver and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Edmonton.

Asked which sport she was better at, she laughingly replied: “Hockey for sure. I’ve been skating since I was two. I have three older brothers and I was always the goalie when we played on the outdoor rink my dad (Glenn) built for us. I started soccer later.”

She played Midget AAA hockey for the Salmon Arm Silvertips two years ago, earning a bronze medal at provincials.

Jespersen, a defender, came off the bench for the Wolves. She hopes to get more minutes next year.

In general studies, she plans to study fitness leadership in her sophomore season. She wrote final exams this week and is heading home to Vernon, where she will spend the summer working in housekeeping at Predator Ridge Golf Resort.