The all girls South Island Peewee Royals are back on the ice this season thanks in part to the efforts of a Ladysmith coach.
Girls ages 11 and 12 have been without their own team for the past three years, but a 17 player roster was assembled this season of youth from Ladysmith, Chemainus and Duncan to as far away as Sooke.
“There’s no other teams at our level on the island. All the other ones are mainland,” said coach Kris Kennedy, whose daughter Ava is on the regional team.
Locally on the island, the Royals play against boys in the Atom A division and are part of the Vancouver Island Minor Hockey Association.
The Royals split a pair of rare local games at Fuller Lake Arena over the weekend, falling 7-4 against the Peninsula Panthers but rebounding the following day to beat the Kerry Park Islanders 7-1 despite being down a few players.
“It was a pretty big win,” said Kennedy. “It was good to sort of rebound from the loss on Saturday.”
The Royals practice twice a week at various arenas across the south island, and keep parents busy on weekends travelling to tournaments.
Recently, the team travelled to an all girls Peewee A tournament in Kamloops and came away with a silver against the Kelowna Junior Rockets.
“We had played in Richmond two weeks prior and had not seen any of the girls teams on the mainland yet,” Kennedy said of the earlier tournament where they finished fourth
“For us to come together as girls from all over (the south island) and to do very well, we were very happy.”
The next big test is in March when the Royals will meet their mainland competition again at provincials in Surrey.
Preparation will involve fitness, team strategies and individual fundamentals.
“We want be ready to go and place well and I think we can do it,” Kennedy said.
In the mean time they have 12 VIMHA league season games to fine tune their skills.
So far their record is 3-0 in those matchups.
Kennedy is also a coodinator for Cowichan Valley Minor Hockey Association and said female hockey is booming on the island.
“I think it has to do with the Olympics for sure and then just also girls, their friends are trying it and loving it.”