When Beth Connelly of Dawson Creek and Hannah Piket of Fort Nelson deicded to join the Midget Predators hockey team three years ago, neither realized the effect it would have on their lives. The girls met in the middle in Fort St. John, where the team practices and most of the players live, and they became best friends.
Fast forward to the 2018-19 season — Connelly captained the team and Piket was an assistant captain, and now the two girls have both signed with the NAIT Ooks to play college hockey this upcoming winter.
Not only are they the first girls from the Predators hockey program to move on to play college hockey, they are also the first girls from the Peace Region to move on in five years.
“I’m super excited to go play for NAIT. It’s a really good school with a great hockey program, and I’ve always wanted to play college hockey so this is great,” said Piket.
For Connelly, she wasn’t always set on playing college hockey, but is glad it played out this way and couldn’t be more happy.
“It’s incredible that it’s happening. Hannah has been my best friend since we met, and it will be amazing to do this next chapter with her,” Connelly said.
Connelly plays defence, and said she has her work cut out for her.
“I’ll have ice time, but I’ll have to work extra hard to move up in the lineup. This isn’t girls hockey anymore, but women’s, and it’s faster and stronger,” Connelly said.
She’ll be studying to get her personal fitness training certification, and may switch over to nursing down the road. Piket, a centre, knows she won’t be on the first line but trusts that her speeed and hard work will help her move up. She will be upgrading in her first year, and will transition into the ultrasound technology course, in hopes of eventually working at the Fort Nelson Hospital.
Paving the way
Rob Larson, the girls’ head coach with, isn’t surprised that both girls are moving on and is glad the organization could help move them ahead.
“(Piket) is a real bulldog out on the ice, she gives everything she has on every shift, and is really good at driving the puck. (Connelly) is a smooth skater, a good passer, and really skilled in the offensive zone,” Larson said.
Connelly and Piket are grateful for their time with the Predators, and hope they can help inspire other girls to follow in their footsteps.
“Without this exposure through the Predators, I never would have gotten the opportunity to play for NAIT,” Connelly said.
“I hope that girls see what we were able to do through the Predators and realize that opportunity exists for them as well. It’s so cool to have a team that brings girls from all over Northern B.C. together,” Piket said.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at email@example.com.