The North Island’s newest hockey team entered a holiday tournament having played only one game and with no wins to its credit.
Three days later, the Triport Peewee She-devils boasted five wins and the championship trophy in the Oceanside Girls Hockey Tournament’s peewee division.
“It was girls from three communities getting together to play hockey down-Island,” said Boni Sharpe, head coach of the peewee girls team that debuted this season. “We didn’t know what we were in for, but we played an excellent tournament.”
It would be difficult to have done much better. The She-devils swept all five games in the Dec. 27-29 tourney, allowing just one goal. Goaltender Sarah Case picked up four shutouts, and the lone goal she surrendered, in a 3-1 round-robin win over Nanaimo, she inadvertently knocked into the net herself, Sharpe said.
The peewees faced Nanaimo again in the championship final and scored a 2-0 win behind goals from Emma Mitchell and Kerrigan Sharpe.
The celebrations began before the final seconds ticked off the clock.
“With two seconds left the gloves were in the air and the sticks were flying,” Boni Sharpe said. “It was a great moment for the girls. They kept telling me, ‘We want it more. We want it more.’ And they went out on the ice and proved it.”
The She-devils opened the tourney with a 9-0 win over the Oceanside Icebreakers as Mercedes Trevor scored a hat trick, Kerrigan Sharpe added two goals, and Tiffany Watson, Randi Ward, Kate Gough and Mitchell each found the net once.
The second game was a 12-1 romp over Cowichan Valley that featured hat tricks by Trevor, Sharpe and Mitchell, along with two goals from Ward and one from Gough.
Then came the tense opening matchup with Nanaimo, which was scoreless going into the third period.
“The Nanaimo coaches loved that they were getting a run for their money,” Boni Sharpe said. “They held us down for a long time.”
Trevor finally put the She-devils on the board with 12:57 to play, but Nanaimo evened the score with a goal just 16 seconds later. It remained 1-1 until Mitchell netted the game-winner with four minutes left, and Trevor added an insurance goal with 1:19 to play.
The peewee girls rolled into the playoffs with the top point total, and blasted the Sooke Thunderbirds 8-0 to set up the finals rematch with Nanaimo.
Trevor had her third hat trick of the tourney in the semifinal win. Ward and Watson added two goals each and Kerrigan Sharpe also scored.
In the final, Mitchell scored the only goal the She-devils would need with 2:14 left in the opening period. Sharpe added the final score with 5:55 to go in the second.
The She-devils program was formed last fall of players from Port Alice, Port Hardy and Port McNeill, who play for minor hockey house programs in Port McNeill and Port Hardy and, in two cases, with the North Island Eagles rep program. It includes two second-year atom skaters and a first-year bantam in Case, who is eligible under recreational girls program rules.
“I think a lot of people at the tournament thought we had tryouts, like we pick the best players from a big pool,” Boni Sharpe said. “Then they asked, ‘How long have you been together?’
“I told them these girls have played against each other for years, but they’ve never played together until now. I think we’re finally building the bridge here. There’s no more Port Hardy, Port McNeill and Port Alice.”