By Dale Cory
The Ponoka Silverado captured the B final in the Season Opener Women’s Hockey Tournament they hosted Oct. 1 and 2 at Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex.
After splitting its first two games, Ponoka qualified for the B final, and whipped Forestburg 5-1 in a re-match of last year’s B final, also won 5-1 by the Silverado.
“One line dominated in the final game,” said coach Melodie Woods. “Left winger Nola Kuhn was our first star after scoring a hat trick and assisting on the other two goals. I’m sure it was her new stick that helped out her game. Centre Matty deVries scored one goal and had three assists, and right winger Sarah Hogan had two assists.”
For the Silverado, who have been skating as a team for 15 years, it was a great way to start the season, which consists of one practice session per week, along with exhibition and tournament games.
“With everyone’s schedules with children and work and the like, we find that the mix of ladies changes with each game — so the dynamics of each game changes as well. This keeps it interesting,” says Woods. “We win some and lose some, but after the game it is really mostly about the fun and the exercise and many of us forget the scores quickly.”
Many players have come and gone over the years, which allow the Silverado to introduce new members to the team when potential players move into the Ponoka area. And the game, at least for women, has grown exponentially in recent years. Woods claims that hockey is so popular that almost every small town in Alberta now has a team.
“The secret to our team dynamic is the fun we have on and off the ice. We have all become very good friends over the years and we are always welcome to new players, as long as they have a fun spirit. We don’t care about the skills as you learn very quickly when you have to chase a puck,” says Woods, who has noticed a younger group of high school and college graduates moving to small communities and looking for a team to join. “This raises the level of play certainly. We appreciate their young legs, as long as we don’t have to chase them. If they are on our team that is okay.”
Deanna Waknuk played inter-mural university hockey at the University of Alberta, and jumped at the chance to play with the Silverado 13 years ago.
“It’s awesome. We range in age from young to old — old meaning over 29,” laughs Waknuk. “Everybody comes together and the skilled players help everyone else learn.
A lot of the women start because their kids are in hockey, and they pick up an interest in it. It’s fun and it’s fast.”
For deVries, the Silverado provided an option to continue playing after she had finished her minor hockey career in the midget division.
“I needed something to do in the winter, and hockey’s great. It’s awesome to play and you meet new friends,” says deVries. “It keeps you in shape.”