The BC Female Midget AAA Kootenay Wild swept the Vancouver Island Seals and will advance to the BCFMAAA semifinals against the Vancouver Comets this weekend.
The Wild defeated the Seals 4-1 in the opening match Friday, before skating to a thrilling 3-2 victory in double overtime Saturday to win the best-of-three quarterfinal matchup at the Cominco Arena.
“I am so pleased with our season,” said Wild General Manager Dara Waterstreet in an email. “We have had a spectacular second half. The girls really gelled and started to put pucks in the net, and both our goalies have been solid.”
Nakusp native Hailey Herridge couldn’t have picked a better time to tally her first goal of the season. At the 11:39 mark of the second overtime period, the Kootenay defenceman fired in a setup from Emilie TeBulte to send an elated Wild team to the semis.
Kootenay fell behind early as the Seals, desperate for a win to force the deciding third match, scored with 4:13 to play in the first period for a 1-0 lead. Kootenay’s Abby Webster tied it in the second finishing off a feed from Kelsey Patterson at 4:54, but 42 seconds later, the Seals reclaimed a one-goal edge on Reese McCrory’s second of the game.
Vancouver Island played strong defensive hockey for most of the third, and kept the Wild off the board for almost 19 minutes, but with 1:03 to play, Webster’s shot beat the Seals’ goalie to tie it at 2-2 and force the extra frame.
In Friday’s match, the Wild jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals from Patterson, and bumped the lead to 3-0 on a third period goal by Reece Hunt. The Seals spoiled Kaitlyn Daly’s shutout, beating the Wild goalie on a breakaway to cut the lead to 3-1 with just under three minutes to play. However, Hunt added one more at 2:35 to ice it for Kootenay.
“The teams were so close,” said Waterstreet. “We are hoping BC Hockey will put in boundary rules for the Lower Mainland. If this happens we are confident that all six teams will be of very close caliber in the years to come.”
Daly was named the Female Major Midget Player of the Month for February, while Hunt, a Nelson product, recently committed to play for NCAA Div. 1 school Bemidji State.
The series victory pits the fourth-seed Kootenay against the number-1 seed Vancouver Comets, a team that lost just one game all season, but Waterstreet is confident the Wild will surprise the Comets this weekend.
“We are going to give the Vancouver Comets a run. It will be a tough go with two of our senior players, Emma Wheeldon and Kendra Waterstreet, injured, but their presence will be felt in the dressing room.”
The series drops the puck on Friday at Planet Ice in Coquitlam at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 1:15 p.m. If necessary, Sunday’s game is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
In the other series, the Northern Capitals swept the Fraser Valley Rush winning 3-0 and 3-2 on the weekend. The Capitals face off against the number-2 seed Thompson-Okanagan Lakers in the other semifinal.