The ladies of Hay River laced up their skates for a weekend of hockey Feb. 14 through 16, with the local Blue team coming out victorious.
Hay River contributed two teams to the pool, for a total of four with Yellowknife and Fort Smith each sending players. After three days of play, the Fort Smith Fury came in second with Yellowknife and Hay River White rounding out the standings.
“The girls played a really strong final game, right from the puck drop to the buzzer,” said Hay River Blue coach Keith Dohey. “They worked really well getting pucks to the net and they were able to keep Fort Smith to the outside and our goalie was excellent when she had to be.”
Dohey also noted all the teams in the tournament were fairly evenly matched, adding that the tournament really could have been anyone’s to win.
Jasmine Marshall, who played centre for Blue, said she raced back from Grande Prairie where she goes to school a day early in order to make it back in time to play Saturday.
“I got in at 1:00 a.m. last night,” she said Feb. 15. “It’s been good playing, but it’s hard. I’ve only played once so far this year.”
Marshall went to the Arctic Winter Games for hockey when she was a minor, but now only plays when she comes back to Hay River for lack of a car in Grande Prairie. She said the best thing about being back was being with her team again.
“I played with a lot of these girls when I was in Midget,” she said. “But I’ve been on women’s for four years, so I know all the ladies pretty well.”
Though pleased to have won, she said the annual Hazardous Hockey tournament is more about having fun than anything else.
“It’s great to set up goals for the girls who maybe don’t get as many all the time and really play as a team,” she said. “This tournament is always a really good time.”
Marshall’s team mate Jessica Gilbert agreed, adding that while there is obviously a healthy dose of competition the atmosphere is always one of support and sportsmanship.
“I’ve only been playing for three years,” she told The Hub, laughing. “I do what I can – I’m here to give breaks to the better players – but we have fun.”
Gilbert said that when she entered her first tournament in the first year she played, she wasn’t sure if she belonged and had to be convinced by her team mates. In the end, she said it was a great experience and one worth repeating.
“You learn so much more in the tournaments,” she said. “It’s faster, you’re playing against teams from other places, and it feels more real. You push yourself harder and you learn more and quicker.”
Overall, Gilbert said most of the players are out to have a good time.
“I think everyone is having fun,” she said. “Honestly, I don’t even know what first prize is.”