With just three games under their belts, a squad of Yukon atom girls hit the road to take on top-tier teams down in Vancouver last week.
Though they didn’t pull off a win against their Tier 1 opponents, the Yukon team gave them a run for their money.
“Over the past two years we’ve been getting those girls together for a special ice time once a week,” said Yukon head coach Pat Tobler. “From that spurred this idea of a team of atom girls and take them on a trip to build on that momentum and compete as a girls team on this special trip.”
“We were thoroughly impressed by the performance of all the young girls in this (series),” he added. “You could really see they enjoyed playing as a team. They bonded really well and that really showed on the ice.”
The Yukon team, which was competing simply as “Yukon,” played five exhibition games against local teams in Vancouver Jan. 6-8.
Fourteen players — 12 from Whitehorse and two from Watson Lake — who play on various co-ed atom minor teams in the territory, made up the Yukon team. They formed the team in December and only played three exhibition games against Whitehorse minor boys squads before the road trip.
Yukon opened the trip with two games against the Tier 1 Vancouver Angels, losing 3-1 and 4-2.
They then faced the Tier 3 Angels team and dominated, earning a 10-2 win.
The two teams then mixed their rosters for a second game.
“We felt it would be more appropriate to mix up the teams and just have a fun game,” said Tobler.
Yukon capped the road trip with a 4-1 loss to the Tier 1 Burnaby Wildcats.
“We lost the three games (against Tier 1 teams) but they were all tremendously close,” said Tobler.
“Before we went, we really didn’t know how we were going to stack up against the Vancouver teams. They have dedicated girls programs and these teams play together all the time. Our team essentially had three exhibition games against boys teams before we headed down and sure enough we were able to compete with these higher level teams.”
Leading the way for the Yukon team was centre Taylor Bierlemeier with 12 points. Bierlemeier also plays for the mostly male Whitehorse Atom Development Team.
“She’s definitely one of the better girls players in town,” said Tobler.
Yukon’s Emma Curtis was second on the team with seven points. Emery Twardochleb, Callie Quaile, Isabel Paquette, and Cassie Cebuliak also scored for Yukon.
Goalie Alix Walchuk, who faced over 120 shots in the five games, earned the nickname “The Wall” during the trip.
“She played tremendously and definitely kept us in those more competitive games,” said Tobler.
Any chance the Yukon team will reunite in the future?
“For now those girls are going to go back to their regular house teams … but given the success of this trip, I’m sure there’s going to be interest in getting these girls together to play in the future,” said Tobler. “Girls hockey in Whitehorse is gaining significant momentum in the younger age group and this outing has proven we’re making some significant strides in that regard.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org