Port McNeill girls hockey coach didn’t have much time to assemble a team for the annual AAA Challenge Cup hockey tournament in Langley over the Victoria Day Long Weekend.
But it proved to be enough.
“I got a call from a lady in Nanaimo with five days notice, to fill a vacancy for a team that pulled out of the tournament,” Sharpe said.
So it was that the West Coast Wild, a group of bantam-age girls from the length of Vancouver Island who had never played or even practiced together, returned following three days of play with a runner-up trophy and silver medals around their necks.
Among them were Port Hardy goalie Sarah Case and Port McNeill skaters Emma Mitchell, Kerrigan and Randi Ward.
The same players were part of a peewee squad that also placed second in the tournament a year ago, but Boni Sharpe said this year’s bantam competition was a quantum leap.
“It was good hockey, fast hockey,” she said. “Nothing like we’ve ever played before. And I didn’t know these girls; it was just a matter of throwing lines together and seeing what clicked.”
The Wild eventually fell 5-0 in the tourney final to the B.C. Selects, a tryout team made up, as its name suggests, of the top age-group players in the province.
But first the club posted multiple wins over the Alberta Thunder, including a shootout victory in the semifinals that lifted the Wild into the title game.
The team wore the “Wild Onez” uniforms provided to the Tri-Port Minor Hockey program by NHL skater Willie Mitchell last year. The trophy will be placed on display in the case at Port McNeill’s Chilton Regional Arena.
“I had never coached at that calibre, and never been affiliated with a team that could be thrown together in five days and play so well,” Boni Sharpe said.