Team B.C. is undefeated headed into the semifinal of the 2017 National Women’s Under-18 Hockey Championship on Saturday in Quebec City. Photo courtesy of B.C. Hockey

Team B.C. undefeated at U18 women’s hockey nationals

Okanagan players contributing to team’s success against the country’s best hockey players

Team B.C. is undefeated at the 2017 National Women’s Under-18 Hockey Championship with the help of Okanagan players.

Okanagan Hockey Academy forward Reece Hunt (Nelson) leads the team in scoring with three points at the tournament, second overall, being held in Quebec City (Nov. 1-5). Anne Cherkowski (Coldstream/Pursuit of Excellence, CSSHL) and Sophie Lalor (Penticton/Okanagan Hockey Academy, CSSHL) lead the team in assists with two a-piece.

Related: OHA players to represent B.C. at National Women’s U18 Championship

B.C. took the host team, and last year’s silver medal winners, out of medal contention on Friday defeating Quebec 4-3 and pushing B.C. into the semifinal which takes place on Saturday 4 p.m. (EST) against Ontario Red (1-1). B.C. earned a bronze medal at the 2016 tournament, just the second time in the tournament’s history that they have won a medal. Ontario Red has won the gold medal at this tournament 11 out of the 12 year’s it has existed.

Related: OHAers come back with bronze

“It was a great team effort, and being able to bounce back after we got down for the first time this tournament, but we really pushed back and it was an overall team effort for us today,” said Danika Pasqua (Langley/Pacific, JWHL), after the come back win over Quebec. “There’s something really special about our team this year. Everyone’s playing together, everyone’s playing as a team. This is the first time we’ve ever played together, and it’s really showing that our chemistry is there and that we’re going to do anything we can to win.”

B.C. opened the tournament on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Saskatchewan. Hunt opened scoring for Team B.C. and Chanreet Bassi (Lake Country/Delta Hockey Academy, CSSHL) added to the team’s lead.

“It’s good to get that first goal and first assist in the first game, but for the team to get that first win is a boost to our confidence for the whole tournament. Saskatchewan’s a really good team – they played really hard and gave us good competition. They’re a really great team, and I’m excited to see what else is to come,” said Hunt after the game.

They continued to shut out their opponents in their second game defeating Manitoba 3-0. Hunt scored again for Team B.C. in the third period to seal the victory.

“The biggest thing the coaching staff is focused on is the team buy-in — everybody’s contributing, everybody’s fully bought in to the plan and committed to it, and that’s what it takes, is the strength of every player, so it’s great to see different people step up. I give the girls full marks for that, and they’re having success [from that approach],” said Team B.C. coach Graham Thomas on what has contributed to the team’s success.

Other players from the Okanagan or playing on Okanagan based teams include: Mikayla Capelle (Dawson Creek, Okanagan Hockey Academy, CSSHL) and Jaise Skinner (Penticton, Okanagan Hockey Academy, CSSHL).

Saskatchewan takes on Ontario Blue in the other semifinal on Saturday.

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