Members of the Smithers Prowlers and the Road Warriors put on a very competitive and enjoyable event last weekend. There was more than a little non-stop, exciting hockey action. submitted photo

Women’s hockey takes over

Smithers arena filled with women hockey teams.

There was no big trophy, no Bulkley Cup. There was no scoring champion, no MVP.

There was, however, the joy of effort and the excitement of competition at the Smithers Prowlers 2018 Women’s Hockey Tournament.

The tournament, sponsored by CN and Subway, featured seven local and regional teams. There were some special rules for the competition which meant that the action never ended.

While there may have been some short respites, the play was non-stop. Time outs were limited, there were specific rules to keep the games on a friendly note and there was an expectation that this competition was for fun.

There were no divisions. There were no play-offs and finals. There was just a lot of fun and a chance to either demonstrate your experience or try out your newly acquired skills.

Watching the games, it was easy to see that there was a broad range of ability. While some of these women probably grew up playing the game with brothers and other local boys, some, in all likelihood had only recently taken up the game.

Skating skills appeared to be quite good but stickhandling was noticeably weaker than might be expected with men of the same ages. That’s a skill that takes more than a few hours of practice. The early morning practices, the special sessions, the endless hours of street hockey all help develop that essential element of the game.

There were no bone crushing checks. In fact, there were very few penalties so the play was without respite.

There was no yelling when someone didn’t keep the puck glued to their stick following a pass. In fact, there was no yelling at all unless it was in support of the players.

Support was easily noticeable. Partners and friends were one group that was available to urge on the efforts of the players but there was another that made the games even more exciting. “Go Mommy!” was a cheer that could be heard more than once during any game.

The seven teams consisted of teams that have played as a group for a long period of time as well as teams that had to be assembled when some players who had planned to be there could not attend. For example, a Hazelton squad lost a good portion of their line-up when the high school girls volleyball team qualified to go to the provincial championships.

No problem. A team was put together with members from a variety of communities around the region. Perhaps the team name of “Mixed” could have used a bit more time, but no one could fault the efforts of the players during their games.

Some of the teams had designated coaches but not all. Whatever the make up of the team, the raw enthusiasm of taking advantage of the chance to play Canada’s favourite game was more than a little noticeable on everyone’s face.

Tournament organizer was pleased with the outcome of the event.

“We ended up with seven teams and there were no playoffs so we didn’t worry about standings and scores. It was just a great way to enjoy the sport of hockey,” she said.

More than a few people could take note of the elemental way in which the teams competed and enjoyed their efforts regardless of the outcome.

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