Vernon Falcons female atom hockey teammates Julia Bueckert (left) and Bekah Huss work on a passing drill at practice under the watchful eye of coach Manish Bhatt during a recent practice at Kal Tire Place North. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Vernon Falcons female atom hockey teammates Julia Bueckert (left) and Bekah Huss work on a passing drill at practice under the watchful eye of coach Manish Bhatt during a recent practice at Kal Tire Place North. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Vernon Falcons soar to season-ending bronze

Vernon Minor Hockey female atom division squad loses semifinal nail-biter at Kelowna tourney

Fifth place in 2018. Third place in 2019.

A lot can happen in a year, and it did for the Vernon Falcons atom female hockey team, as they capped off a stellar year with a bronze-medal finish at the Alley’s Angels Tournament of Hearts in Kelowna, losing the semifinal to the eventual tournament winner from Kelowna.

“We lost a nail-biter,” said Vernon head coach Spencer Ward. “All told, the girls represented Vernon and the female program well, and made parents and coaches very proud with their skill development and team camaraderie.”

The Alley’s Angels Tournament is in its fourth year and boasts four Female Divisions with teams from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the U.S., and the Okanagan.

After hastily pulling together eligible-aged players from various co-ed teams last year and finishing the Angels event with a 1-3 record, the Vernon team hoped to improve on that performance after spending this season playing together in Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association’s Atom Female Rec Division.

The team compiled a 9-6-1 regular season record, good for third place, and were led in scoring by veteran snipers Marlee White and Ana Lovelace, with rock solid defence from sisters Bekah and Olivia Huss, and stellar goaltending from Emma Ward.

Throughout the season, stalwart rookies Shriya Bhatt and Mikayla Bishop provided secondary scoring, as did power forward gritty grinders Ally Radcliffe and Julia Bueckert.

Strong play came from Lumby speedster sisters Orian and Jeta Laventure and the tireless North Okanagan sister trio of Alex, Addison and Sidney Boal.

The Falcons team motto, ‘Be Your Best, Be Respectful, Be Positive’ helped develop tenacity in Liv Yorke-Hardy, Alexis Godard, Shia Linford, and Anndra Best, who flourished this season, as the coaching staff focused on skill development and social-emotional connections with teammates for a fun and inclusive team.

Ward is joined on the Falcons’ coaching staff by Chris Godard, with excellent support from coaches Denise Bateman, Manish Bhatt, and Wendy Bueckert.

“This group of ladies represented Vernon with sportsmanship and determination, while demonstrating strong growth and progress throughout the season,” said Ward.

Players interested in joining the Falcons next season (born in 2009/2010) and/or those currently playing ringette or living in surrounding areas should contact GVMHA at 250-542-0754 or www.vernonminorhockey.com or gvmha@shaw.ca.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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Vernon Falcons female atom hockey forward Shriya Bhatt (left), is joined by practice players Cadie Hayward (centre) and her sister, Mena Bhatt (right) during a skating drill at a recent Falcons practice at Kal Tire Place North. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Vernon Falcons female atom hockey forward Shriya Bhatt (left), is joined by practice players Cadie Hayward (centre) and her sister, Mena Bhatt (right) during a skating drill at a recent Falcons practice at Kal Tire Place North. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Vernon Falcons female atom hockey goalie Emma Ward earns a drink of water during a break in practice at Kal Tire Place North. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Vernon Falcons female atom hockey goalie Emma Ward earns a drink of water during a break in practice at Kal Tire Place North. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)