Wildcat trio compete for spot on Team BC

Three skaters from the Midget AAA Kootenay Wildcats were invited to attend the 2014 Female U18 B.C. Cup.

In what could be the first step in donning the red and white and playing for Team Canada, three skaters from the Midget AAA Kootenay Wildcats were invited to attend the 2014 Female U18 B.C. Cup in Salmon Arm next week.

Joining 80 of B.C.’s best female hockey players are Stephanie McAuley of Trail, Nelson’s Merissa Dawson, and Kimberley Huisman of Fernie.

“Realistically, I think they all have legitimate chances at making the team,” said Wildcats coach Cary Fisher. “But if we have one on the team, it will be a feather in our cap.”

McAuley led all skaters on the Wildcats in scoring this season with 12 goals and six assists for 18 points in 30 games while Huisman was right behind her with 5-12-17.

“Steph is a pure goal scorer, who has very good stick-handling ability,” said Fisher. “She knows where the net is and shoots well. There’s not many girls in the province that have hands like hers.”

Huisman has speed to burn, a great presence around the net, and a tireless forechecker.

Dawson was a force on defence for the Cats scoring two goals and four assists while collecting 56 penalty minutes.

“She is very physical but she is not one dimensional,” said Fisher. “I think she could probably score a lot more, but we relied on her a lot for defence and she played heavy minutes – so it takes away from your offence at times.”

According to BC Hockey, players born in 1997 and 98 were evaluated throughout the 2013-14 season and those who displayed superior skill and aptitude were invited to the camp. During the camp skaters are divided into four teams, with the first two days consisting of practice, team building, and fitness testing, while the remainder of the weekend will be devoted to competing in games, with players evaluated on their performances.

The camp is fiercely competitive, and players will not only have to work hard to stand out, they may also have to adapt.

“Every coach is going to have a set of requirements for that team, so if during tryouts a player is asked to play in a role they’re not comfortable with or they don’t see as their role that might be a detriment,” said Fisher. “So they might have to be flexible and play in a role that they’re given.”

The top 40 players will advance to Team BC Provincial Camp, May 16-19 in Lake Cowichan, and be reduced to 22 after that.

The top 20 who make Team  B.C. will compete in a national competition against other provinces with the best and brightest considered for the National program.

“What’s really happened in the last five years is that you are seeing more and more skill and speed and size . . . it’s amazing the quality of hockey you’re seeing now.”

McAuley, Dawson, and Huisman will compete for a spot on Team B.C. From Apr. 23 to 27 in Salmon Arm.