For Sarah Rourke, Wynona Creyke and Lauren Smaha-Muir, hockey is not just a game, but a way of life.
After years of playing co-ed hockey with the Smithers Minor Hockey Association, the girls decided to make the jump to play with an all girls team.
“I decided to play on the team because I’ve been playing on boys teams the past few years and I just wanted to try it out,” said 15-year-old Creyke.
Creyke, Rourke and Smaha-Muir were one of roughly 35 girls from around the northwest who tried out for the Terrace-based Kermode Midget Girls team.
The team consists of girls from Prince George through to Houston and the trio were the only athletes from Smithers to make the team this season.
According to Smaha-Muir, 17, who finished her second year with the team, playing on an all girls team allows her to develop her skills.
“With girls, it’s a smarter game,” she said, noting that there is no physical contact.
“There’s a lot more skill . . .It’s more competitive playing against other girls teams because everyone wants to be there to play.”
While there are no set practices, the girls still manage to stay sharp by playing with the midget house teams in town.
They played roughly 40 to 50 games this season with Kermode, all of which were on the road against teams such as Vancouver, Kelowna and Salmon Arm.
For the girls, travelling together almost every weekend helped them form a close bond.
“There’s not a lot of weekends where we’re not playing hockey together,” said 13-year-old Rourke, adding that they see each other at school as well.
“It’s a good group of girls, there’s no drama on the team, we’re all friends.”
“It’s so much fun. You usually share a room with your teammates, which makes it so much more enjoyable,” added Creyke.
That bond and chemistry between teammates helped lead them to provincials in Penticton earlier this month.
The team defeated Kootenay 4-1 to advance to the semi-finals, where they dropped the game 3-2 in overtime to North Island.
Next up, they took on Williams Lake in the battle for bronze. But they eventually lost 2-1 in overtime as well.
“We’re really close, so when someone made a mistake, we wouldn’t let it get to us,” said Smaha-Muir.
“We’re more like sisters and family.”
With the hockey season coming to a close, the girls plan on going their separate ways.
Smaha-Muir is graduating this year and will move on to university, while Creyke and Rourke will continue to play hockey with the Kermode Midgets.
“It’s something you fall in love with and you don’t let go of,” said Smaha-Muir.
All three agreed playing hockey allowed them to form a close connection with each other, one that they will continue to cherish.
“Even after the season is done, we’re all still in contact,” said Smaha-Muir.
Rourke and Creyke will also compete with the B.C. U16 team to play for the U16 Cup over the Easter weekend.