Salmon Arm success for Chilliwack trio

Three Chilliwack minor hockey products looking to crack Team BC’s U-18 squad excelled at the BC Female U-18 Cup last weekend.

Defenceman Katie Wardell and forward Hailey Smyl were part of the gold medal winning Wildcats.

Forward Micaela Smith suited up for the Pandas.

The competition, held in Salmon Arm, featured the top 120 midget-aged female hockey players in the province, selected from six zone camps held earlier in April.

Chosen players were assigned to teams, joined by players from the six zones (Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Kootenays, Vancouver Island, and North).

Teams arrived late Wednesday afternoon, and gruelling fitness testing started that evening. Testing continued Thursday morning, and teams began practicing the same day.  Thursday night featured a banquet with presentations from BC Hockey and Hockey Canada.

Cup play started Friday with the Wildcats playing two games.

Wardell scored the winner in a 2-0 win, followed by a 4-3 shoot­out triumph over the Falcons.

One of the Wildcat  centres suffered a concussion early in game two and Smyl logged extra minutes, using her speed and physical play in a defensive role.

The Wildcats and Falcons clashed again in a Saturday night semi-final, with the Wildcats erasing a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3.

The Wildcats trailed the Wolverines 3-2 heading to the third period  in Sunday’s championship game before a third period blitz earned them a 6-3 win and the tourney title.

Wardell led all Wildcat defencemen with two goals, adding a pair of assists.

Smyl was among the top three Wildcat forwards in minutes played, chipping in a couple of assists and showing off the skating and back-checking skills needed to progress to the next level.

The speedy, hard-shooting Smith scored two goals and picked up a couple of assists for the fifth-place Pandas.

The BC Cup is the second in a multi-step process for selecting both B.C.’s and, ultimately, Canada’s U-18 female hockey teams.

Between 46-50 players from the BC Cup will progress to the next step, a Team BC evaluation camp held over the May long weekend.

All of Wardell, Smith and Smyl grew up playing their minor hockey in Chilliwack and were part of the first all-female hockey team in Chilliwack history (peewee Warriors 2006-07).

The trio played for the midget AAA Fraser Valley Phantom this season.

Wardell is in her final year of eligibility for the U-18 High Performance program, but both Smith and Smyl are eligible to participate again next year.