A hockey team of U-18 girls from across the northwest has returned home with a gold medal from their sweep of a prestigious Calgary tournament.
The North West District Pitbulls won all three games by convincing scores in the 16-team Sizzle Sticks tournament held Dec. 2 to Dec. 4. It was the first time the team entered the tournament.
Now in its sixth year, the team is made up of players stretching from Fraser Lake west along Hwy 16 and south to Kitimat.
“It requires countless hours of organizing and volunteer hours,” said team manager Crystal Fisher of Burns Lake. “Luckily, we have the absolute best hockey family and we all work together.”
The route to gold in Calgary began with an 8-1 win over a team from Calgary called the Flames on Dec. 2, a 4-1 victory over the Scorch, another team from Calgary, on Dec. 3 and a 5-0 victory over a team from Okotoks, Alberta on Dec. 4.
Hailey Crouse from Burns Lake scored two goals in the final game and was also singled out for recognition for her sportsmanship.
The winning Sizzle Sticks team gets to choose a charity to receive a $250 cheque and the Pitbulls chose the Canadian Breast Cancer Society.
The Pitbulls make up a female northern league along with teams from Prince George, Williams Lake and northeastern B.C.
Fisher said the Pitbulls attend between three and five away tournaments a year in addition to four weekends playing teams within the female northern league.
The team won’t be hosting a tournament this year but Burns Lake is the location in January of a home league weekend.
“We stay in contact over team snap and the girls have done an awesome job at creating group chats etc. over social media so that communication is always constant,” said Fisher of the spread-out player and support staff contingent.
To attend B.C. provincials each year, a bus typically starts out from Terrace, picking up players and support staff along the way.
But for other tournaments, depending upon hometowns, players and staff will fly or undertake 13 to 18 hour road journeys each way, said Fisher.
The team tries to meet once a month at rotating locations for a full-roster practice while also holding smaller practices in hub communities once or twice a week.
Below is the team roster.
#7 Devyn Molloy (C) – Kitimat
#10 Lucy Woodburn-Elliot – Terrace
#9 Tatum Jack (AC) – Gitanmaax
#6 Molly Pierre-Jack – Gitanmaax
#5 Esther (Mya) Pierre-Jack – Gitanmaax
#12 Ava Starr – New Hazelton
#18 Kierra Starr – New Hazelton
#11 Maryn Sullivan (AC) – Houston
#17 Claire Sullivan – Houston
#4 Tsayta Bayes - Burns Lake
#13 Hailey Crouse - Burns Lake
#14 Susan Joseph - Burns Lake
#29 Amy Hanson – Burns Lake
#3 Jaylia Sanderson – Fraser Lake
#8 Raelysa Sanderson – Fraser Lake
#16 Dakota Magnus (AC) – Fraser Lake
Affiliated player – Miica Clegg – Smithers/Houston
Affiliated player – Emma-Reese Lewis – Smithers
Affiliated player – Dorothea Lewis – Smithers
#30 Emma Williamson – Fraser Lake
#1 Emma Garcia – Smithers
#1 Taylor Rutter – Houston
Head Coach – Kyle Magnus - Fraser Lake
Assistant Coach – Justin Cradock – Burns Lake
Assistant Coach – John Sullivan – Houston
Assistant Coach – Ryneld Starr – New Hazelton
Hockey Canada Safety – Steven Bayes – Burns Lake
Manager – Crystal Fisher – Burns Lake
Assistant Manager – Jasmine Pierre – Gitanmaax
Player Development & Support – Wes Hart/Plan B Hockey- Burns Lake
Player Development & Support — Jeremy
North West District Female Coordinator-Lee Holland-Prince George