Two former West Kootenay Midget Wildcats joined Trail’s Erin McLean, another ex-Wildcat, on the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) Trojans women’s hockey team as they opened their Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) hockey season on the weekend.
Rookies Steph McAuley of Trail and Kira Streliev of Nakusp made their debuts on Friday night at home as SAIT hosted NAIT Ooks from Edmonton.
McAuley, a forward, played three seasons for the Wildcats, her best coming in 2013-14 when she netted 12 goals and 18 points in 30 games. Steliev, also a forward, played from 2012-14, tallying six goals and eight assists in 56 games, while McLean played from 2010-13 on defence accumulating eight goals and 19 assists over that time with West Kootenay.
The Trojans skated to a 2-0 victory over the ACAC defending champion Ooks in the opening match of the season, with the three-year veteran, McLean, assisting on the first tally by Madison Fjellstrom and then scoring the insurance marker for SAIT.
“It sends a big message throughout the league, and sends a big message to our team that we’re here and we can do it,” Trojans coach Terry Larson told a SAIT reporter. “It was a great way to start the season.”
Offensively, SAIT had chance after chance in the game, but couldn’t cash in on two breakaways and a very rare 3-on-0 situation.
“Whoever gets a 3-on-0?,” Larson said laughing. “How many breakaways did we have? I told the girls that was almost a 6-0 game, because we had so many chances.”
The rematch in Edmonton the next night did not go so well as they fell 4-1 to Nait. McLean picked up an assist to tie the game at 1-1 in the first period but NAIT rallied scoring once in the middle frame and twice in the third period to ice it.
Like Friday night, SAIT outshot the Ooks 27-25, and had numerous scoring opportunities, including a handful of breakaways, but could not capitalize.
“Once these players start getting their confidence up and believing in themselves, the goals will come in bunches,” Larson said. “We’re only going to get better from here.”