Warriors girls hockey team closes out season, already look forward to next year
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
The Sioux North High School (SNHS) Warriors girls’ hockey team closed out their regular season against the Dryden High School Eagles during a hard-fought home game on Feb. 14.
It was a season that brought many girls to the team, at both the beginning of the season and part way through, who were new to the sport.
”It was probably the best thing that happened because a lot of the new girls that came in, while they were a bit inexperienced in the sport of hockey, they brought an amazing attitude to the group. It formed this good core of positive attitude, which was really important,” said head coach Austen Hoey.
“The fact that we had that positive influence and girls who come to the rink to have a good time, that was huge,” he added.
For both goaltenders, this season was a world of firsts, including strapping up the pads.
“It was basically their first time putting on pads, so it was good to see how far they’ve come and where they are now. Especially Marie Meekis because she was our only player from Pelican (Falls First Nations High School) this year, and her attitude all year has been amazing…I think a lot of girls saw her positive attitude and the way that she thought about things, and I think that lifted up a lot of people as well. Having her on the team was awesome for us and I hope, moving forward next year, we can get more Pelican girls out because it does seem to be a pretty good relationship between ourselves and Pelican Falls,” Hoey explained.
The team dynamic featured a fairly young group with no seniors on the team this year, with the core group of leadership being mostly in grade 11. Moving forward, there’s another wave of even more youth coming, which has the coaches excited.
“There’s a pretty good crop of grade eight players who have been practicing with us. They’ve also shown a lot of promise, hard work, and good attitude. That’s really the most important thing, especially when you look at the length of the season and the travel involved. To have those kinds of lightning rods of positivity all the time, it’s so easy for the girls to feed off of that,” Hoey shared.
Despite their season being over, the girls will have a few more opportunities to play. As part of the Warriors girls’ hockey program, Hoey is running a Sioux Lookout Girls Hockey Showcase where the grade eight girls and the high school team will collaborate and compete in a three-game series for the Forest Inn Girls Showcase Cup.
“We have some extra ice time over the next couple weeks and, instead of wasting it and putting it to whatever, we decided to put something together where us, as a coaching staff, got a chance to take a look at the Bantam girls in more of a game setting against some of our girls and as well as evaluate some of the new girls… With these three games coming up in our Sioux Lookout Girls’ Hockey Showcase, it’s going to do a really good job of giving them that confidence, letting them touch the puck and letting them make plays. I think that’s going to go a long way to next year and possibly them becoming fixtures in our actual lineup,” Hoey explained.
“It will be nice, in talking with them, to give them something to look forward to at the end of the year. It’s kind of like a mini-playoffs for them to look forward to and, again, it gives us as a coaching staff something to look at and see what they (the Bantams) look like in a game against the high school players and really continue to get excited for next year,” he continued.
Positivity and hope have been key components throughout the past season and, moving forward, the team is already looking to carry those elements over into next season. After seeing improvements and the building of in-game experiences throughout the team, the coaches have nothing but excitement as they look ahead to next year’s girls’ hockey program.
“The word that I would describe it going into next year is a lot of optimism because of the positive nature of so many of the girls and the strides that so many have taken that there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be optimistic going into next year. It’s a really good group of girls, and getting to work with them has really shown me how much resiliency and positivity they bring,” he concluded.
The three-game Sioux Lookout Girls’ Hockey Showcase series is scheduled for Feb. 17, Feb. 24 and Feb. 25.