The Northeast B.C. Predators are roaring into the 2020 season after a successful training camp in Tumbler Ridge last week, September 2 and 3. The Predators were able to get on the ice at the Tumbler Ridge Community Centre and all three teams — U13, U15, and U18 — had a good start to what is shaping up to be a unique but exciting season.
"It went really well, the girls seemed happy to be back on the ice and everyone enjoyed it," said Predators president Angela Ayre.
Each team had two scrimmages, a skill session, and off-ice fitness training. The facility was set up so both players and parents were socially distanced, and the equipment and bench space was sanitized frequently.
While other hockey teams in the area are heading into the 2020-21 season unsure of when and where they'll be playing competitive games, the Predators have the advantage of having a plan already in place. When viaSport moved into Phase 3 of its B.C. Return to Sports guideline on Aug. 24, it allowed the Predators and three other teams to move forward with the Northern B.C. Female A League. Under Phase 3, teams can play competitive games in cohorts, and so the Predators will be playing in a cohort also consisting of teams from Williams Lake, Prince George and Northwest B.C.
The teams will be playing with the super-weekend format, where each will travel to one location on a weekend and play a game against each opponent. The league will begin in October.
"Every team really wanted to make sure we can carry on. The girls are looking for some certainty, and we are all excited about pushing forward with the league and not having to be waiting for answers," said Ayre.
The U13 team is young and promising, with several girls of atom age, and Ayre is excited about their future. The U15 team added some new players from other programs, and are looking to continue to get better.
While both younger teams had around 20 players at camp each, around the normal amount for camp, the U18 had a lower turnout than most years, with only 14 girls taking to the ice.
"We're looking to recruit some more girls from the U18 team, but the other associations in our league seem to be in the same boat with that age group. There are a number of factors at play that are understandable, but we're confident it will come together."
The schedule for the super-weekend games, as well as the Predator's regular ice-times, remains to be determined. But the Preds are expecting to be on the ice twice more in Tumbler Ridge this September.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.