Port McNeill defenseman Samantha Dutcyvich and the rest of her North Island Extreme teammates are headed to the provincial hockey championships after rolling to the Female Midget A title in Victoria in February.
The Extreme blasted Kerry Park 10-1 in the first round-robin game of the playoffs, then outlasted the South Island Breakers with three straight close wins — 3-2 in the round-robin, and 4-1 and 2-1 in a best-of-3 finals series — to claim the Female Midget A championship banner and a berth at provincials.
The provincial tournament will be held Mar. 20-25 in Invermere Valley.
“We didn’t have a league to play in, so all year the coach and I scrambled to put together exhibition games,” said Kim Dutcyvich, manager for the Extreme program. “We’ve traveled to the States, been in an international tournament and a showcase in the States, played in a tournament in Cranbrook.
“In the face of adversity like this, these girls were hugely successful.”
The team is made up of players from Port McNeill, Campbell River, Courtenay, Powell River, Port Alberni and Nanaimo, and played its “home” games in several arenas.
When formed last fall, the squad expected to be slotted into a league with Tier 2 and 3 bantam teams, and did play exhibition games against several such teams on Vancouver Island.
But the North Island Eagles bantams declined to face the Extreme in a non-hitting game, head coach Mike Bell saying it would be unfair to ask his team to dial back on the style of play it was trained for.
Coincidentally, the Eagles bantams also won their tier’s Island championship and will play in the provincial finals in Smithers at the same time the Extreme are in East Kootenay.
The Extreme will get in one more exhibition game this weekend, against the Breakers, but will have to travel to Victoria to play it.
“It’s been a challenging year,” Kim Dutcyvich said. “But it’s a great group of girls. They’ve handled it so well.”