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HomeSportsMarch of the Penguins: Northern BC’s newest women’s hockey team takes flight

March of the Penguins: Northern BC’s newest women’s hockey team takes flight

(Files by Brendan Pawliw)

Women’s hockey has seen a steady uptick across Canada with several high-level amateur and professional leagues popping up over the past several years.

In Prince George and across Northern BC opportunities to play past the BC Female Midget AAA level have been few and far between.

Until now.

The South Coast Women’s League added the Northern Penguins to the fold this season consisting of players from PG, the Cariboo and other parts of the northern region.

The Penguins are off to a 0-5-1 start to the campaign and has been quite the experience, to say the least.

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“So far, it’s been an eye-opener.”

“We’ve been playing against some teams that are very strong and the two teams we have played so far are one and two in the league and are pretty much stacked with ex-university players and we got spanked the first few times but our last outing we did quite well,” said Norm Goetken, Head Coach and Manager.

We’re not even half-way through the season yet and already the Penguins have picked up some league awards courtesy of goaltender and Northern Cougar Alum Avery Quiring.

She posted a 42-save shutout last weekend in a scoreless draw against the South Fraser TNT earning her First Star of the Week honors.

“Avery stepped up and played a huge game. As anybody knows if you have a good goalie that keeps you in the game, that means everything. I would also like to give credit to the girls playing in front of her too as we went down to 100 Mile and only had eight skaters, we played to a scoreless draw that first game and then in the second game it was scoreless and then we scored first before we ran out of gas in the third period.”

Goetken says the new program plans to use the local and regional minor hockey systems as a pipeline to obtain players.

“The only other option for players before was to play college or university and for some that just wasn’t an option, we have about 10 players that go to college or university and others that are in the nursing program.”

“What is unique is that we get to have more cards than the major midgets because a lot of these girls have school or jobs and they can’t always be at every game.”

With the Penguins being the most northern franchise in all of the SCWHL, travelling up to places like Prince George can be viewed as a negative to some of the other teams, which forced the Penguins to compromise with the league to play home games in two different communities.

“Our hope was to play all of our home games in Prince George and speaking with the league, they would not have voted us in if all the teams had to travel up to Prince George so we kind of had to meet halfway and then I got 100 Mile on board and they have just been unreal in there support for this.”

“The commissioner’s hopes to have a northern division because so far it’s just Kamloops and us. Kelowna is supposed to have enough players but they don’t have anyone to manage the team so hopefully in the next year or so they can get that figured out,” added Goetken.

Like many teams in the midget, junior and senior levels, sponsorship is a big thing to ease the financial burden off the hockey club.

Goetken and the Penguins are looking to the corporate world for help.

“We still don’t have any sponsorship and the biggest things is if we can maybe get the word out there to help some of these girls because we do have to travel as our schedule is 26 games and we make four trips to the Lower Mainland, one to Kamloops and then two more trips to 100 Mile House.”

The Northern Penguins next home games in Prince George are February 16th and 17th against the Meadow Ridge Moose from the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.

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