Despite being the youngest team in attendance, the Penticton Minor Hockey Association’s female hockey team held their own at the International Children’s Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York, with 2 wins and 4 losses.
“It was a great experience, the kids had a great time being able to play against some international competition,” said Andy Oakes the girls’ coach. “But also being involved in a competition that had right around 500 athletes from 33 different cities and 14 different countries and they were able to intermingle with bi-athletes like biathlon athletes and downhill skiers and speed skaters and being able to engage.
“The competition side of the hockey was great, but also the social and cultural experience was excellent.”
Oakes said the team was comprised of approximately half peewee-aged players and half bantam-aged players, where as other teams were all bantam-aged players. He said it was also significant that the two Okanagan-based teams were able to face off against each other in the 1980 Arena.
“We got to play Kelowna in the 1980 Arena, it was where Miracle on Ice was played and we played against them and they won,” said Oakes. “But we were able to take a picture on ice together. It’s always a good experience.”
Oakes said this experience gave the girls an insight into the worldwide hockey community, something they can now carry with them in the rest of their careers as players.
“From my perspective, from a hockey perspective, I hope that they’ve learned the hockey community is large and they have the ability to participate against international teams and a whole bunch of different levels of hockey, from Iceland to Hamilton, Ontario, to Penticton,” said Oakes. “There’s a whole bunch of levels and the hockey world is large, and there’s all this opportunity out there.”
|The tired Penticton players were still all smiles on their journey home from Lake Placid. The youngest team to compete, the girls brought home 2 wins and represented the community ‘amazingly’. Photo by Rod Kenney.|
“Not to mention, to have them become a team over a short period of time with such a different mix of ages on it was really, really special.”
Oakes said he also watched his players grow over the expanse of the tournament, being able to communicate and get along with players from all over the world. He noted they represented Penticton amazingly on the world stage.
“Being able to communicate with people from Iceland, Switzerland, Slovenia, Austria, all over the world. It’s just fantastic, those things will change them for better as young people and make them respect that the world has many cultures and respect it a little bit more,” said Oakes.
“They represented the community unbelievably, the amount of positive comments from the volunteers at the event about our athletes’ behaviours and how they conducted themselves and how they interacted with the other teams and the volunteers was top notch,” said Oakes. “They represented the citizens of Penticton very well.”
Barb Main, who is also involved with the team and joined them in Lake Placid, hopes that since they have received this invite to compete, they will receive a standing invitation from the International Children’s Games going forward.
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