PG Free Press
Norm Goetken didn’t like the numbers he saw in July.
“There were only four players signed up,” says the coach of the Spectrum Resource Group Peewee Female Cougars rep hockey team. “I got busy recruiting.”
He found a new more players locally, then remembered a spring team he had coached last year.
“I was looking for a goalie, and there was a good one in Fort St. James. Her dad said, ‘Are you needing other players?’ and I just said, ‘Yeah’.”
He ended up with four players from Fort St. James, one from McBride and two from Williams Lake.
“The two from Williams Lake played for us last year as well,” Goetken says. “The girls from the Fort are really good at getting down here for our practice each week, but it’s just too far for them to come from McBride or Williams Lake.”
This is Goetken’s second year with the team, but he’s coached a lot of baseball and hockey before.
“This is my first time with girls, and I find they’re a lot easier to coach. They listen better, they’re eager to learn, and they’re like sponges when it comes to taking things in.”
That makes not having his full team available for practices a bit frustrating.
“The girls are getting a lot of ice time in where they are, but we’re starting to work on things like breakout plays, where they need to be here to work with the rest of us.
Sophie Davis is 12 and the team’s captain, and is one of the Fort St. James players.
“This is my second year with the team,” she says. “I’ve been playing hockey for about eight years. Until the last couple of years, I played with the boys. I just wanted to try a girls team to see what it was like.”
A defenceman, Sophie says, “I like stopping people.”
Unfortunately, at the peewee level, body-checking is not allowed and the disappointment is clear in Sophie’s voice when she talks about that.
One of the other defencemen, Malena Pillipow, 11, also likes “stopping people”, but appreciates the lack of body-checking means you have to use other skills.
“You have to know how to skate backwards so you can keep up with them.”
On the weekend of Nov.17 and 18, the team was in Burnaby to take part in the annual Hayley Wickenheiser Hockey Festival. Prince George got off to a good start, with a 5-2 win over the North Shore Avalanche. The Cougars were up 2-1 going into the third and scored three times to put the game away. Cailen Saharchuk and Sophie Davis had a goal and an assist each to lead the attack.
Their second game saw the Cougars fall behind 3-0 after the first period to the Vancouver Angels. Davis got one of the goals back in the second and Jordan McMillian scored early in the third to make it 3-2 , but that was as close as they could get.
The third game of the round-robin saw the Cougars play Meadow Ridge. Megan Goetken scored 14 seconds into the game to give Prince George a 1-0 lead, but Maple Ridge captain Mykhaela Johnson scored three straight to give them a 3-1 lead. Paityn Weil scored with about four minutes left to pull the Cougars within one, but that was all.
After finishing third in the round-robin, the Cougars played Meadow Ridge again in the semifinals. Saharchuk scored in the first period to give the Cougars the lead, and Davis and Malena Phillipow scored in the second to make it 3-0.
Meadow Ridge scored early in the third to make it 3-1 going into the last minute. With the goalie out, Meadow Ridge scored to make it 3-2, on a play where the Prince George net appeared to be off its moorings.
The Cougars iced the puck with 20 seconds left, setting up a faceoff in their end. After 19 seconds of frantic action, Meadow Ridge scored with one second left to tie the game and send it to a shootout.
The Cougars got the first goal in the shootout, but ended up losing 2-1 to lose the game 4-3.
Wickenheiser came down to talk with the team after the game to raise their spirits. The girls had earlier had a chance to meet her and NHL Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke. Some of the players also attended a practice with Wickenheiser.