And what an inspiring season it was!
The Tri-Port Midget Wild finished in first place in their division with a 10-2-3 record, and were awarded the female Midget C League banner for all the hard work they put in to earning the achievement.
The Wild were presented with the banner during their playoff weekend in Nanaimo, which started off on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. with a game against the Sooke Thunderbirds at the Cliff McNabb Arena.
The Wild wasted no time getting down to business once the puck was dropped and came out firing early in the first period, with captain Kerrigan Sharpe scoring off a feed from Bree-Anna Henderson at 15:57.
The Thunderbirds’ Ireland Greenhough answered back with a goal of her own at 12:52 to tie it back up, but it was all Wild after that, as Henderson (x3) and Sharpe scored to make it 5-1 going into the second period.
The Wild would add another goal courtesy of Mandy Foldy at 17:25, assisted by Kaitlyn Wilson and Henderson, before the Thunderbirds attempted a comeback, thanks to Ruby Spurr and Greenhough finding the back of the net to cut the Wild’s lead to 6-3.
Into the third period the game went, with the Thunderbirds’ Greenhough completing the hat trick at 13:00 to bring them within two goals of tying the game.
The Wild’s Taylor Ranger found the twine with 9:35 left, assisted by Madison Van Will, and that was all she wrote for the Thunderbirds, as the Wild skated away with a dominant 7-4 victory.
With the win in hand, the Wild had qualified for the playoff final against league rival the Campbell River Hurricanes, who had defeated the Cowichan Valley Capitals 2-0 earlier that day.
The final was held on Sunday at the NIC Arena at 11:00 a.m. and it ended up being a bittersweet moment for the team who played their hearts out all season.
The Hurricanes Sydney Cole scored at 8:54 of the first period to give them a 1-0 lead, but then Sharpe got the pass from Henderson and converted at 2:30 to tie it right back up.
The game turned into a dogfight from that point, with both teams refusing to back down, until the Hurricanes’ Everett Feeney found the back of the net off a scramble at 15:55 to give them the go ahead goal.
The Wild fought hard to tie it back up, but ultimately couldn’t convert, and the Hurricanes held on to add an empty netter with one second left on the clock, giving them not only a big 3-1 win, but the Female Midget C Playoff banner as well.
“Our girls outshot them, but just weren’t able to find that sweet spot on the net,” said Female Minor Hockey Coordinator Lisa Brown.
She added the loss was a tough one, “but the girls played great and we’re so proud of them, they worked hard all season and placed top in the league. Champions all the way around as far as we’re concerned!”
Head Coach Mike Bell, who took over the job from Andrew Laming early on in the season, said while there was initially some turmoil over the coaching change, he was incredibly proud of what the team went on to achieve.
“We went 21 games without a loss,” he said, adding he has coached minor hockey teams for 21 years on the North Island, “but the thing that stood out the most with the Wild is their compete level — it is unmatchable and I am thoroughly impressed with how they never quit all season.”
He added he wanted to say a “kudos” to Brown, because she is “undying in her efforts to promote female hockey.”