The true colours of a tense rivalry came alive Friday night (Feb. 7) in Prince George.
The Northern Capitals defended home ice in more ways than just winning 3-1 over the Thompson-Okanagan Lakers, which included stepping up on the physical side late in the contest.
Twenty penalty minutes were handed out between both clubs in the second half, 12 assessed to the Caps, claiming they were forced to retaliate and to defend their teammates.
“They are a very aggressive team and not a lot of people like playing them because of that and for me its hard too because I don’t get a lot of action,” said goaltender Tessa Sturgeon to PrinceGeorgeMatters after earning her sixth win in 10 starts between the pipes this year.
“Last year, they were last in the league, but we still always played very competitively because they’re an aggressive team and we were an aggressive team and it just didn’t mix well. This year, they got some more skill so it’s even harder but there’s always going to be that rivalry there.”
Forward Brette Kerley scored two goals in the franchise’s first-ever Pink in the Rink Game, which raised cancer awareness by wearing pink specialty sweaters.
She admits the Lakers got into their heads more frequently in that third period.
“They do usually take a lot of penalties,” the 16-year-old alternate captain said post-game.
“Our girls just need to calm down, take a step back and realize we’re just here to play hockey and not be in the box the whole time.
Kerley currently leads the Northern Capitals in BC Female Midget AAA League play with 16 points in 23 games, including 13 goals.
Kiera Mulder was heavily involved in her team’s physicality on defence, but also fired up the crowd by potting the first goal of the evening at 6:08 of the opening period.
Nancy Moore and Ocean Andersen added the assists to Mulder’s second of the season and in her last three games.
Thompson-Okanagan answered over four-and-a-half minutes later, converting on a tripping penalty taken by Brooklyn Hutchings to tie it up at 1-1.
Kerley’s first goal on the night beat the 20-minute buzzer by 13 seconds, the assists from Samantha Wiley and Captain Paige Outhouse, giving the pinkshirts a 2-1 lead into the dressing room.
Ella Boon then took the brunt of a checking-from-behind play in the early stages of the second, hitting the ice hard and was slow to get up.
The Vanderhoof product did not return for the rest of the game.
However, Kerley capitalized on the five-minute major against the Lakers for her second goal of the game; Hutchings recorded the lone assist.
That 3-1 advantage stayed the same through until the end amongst a slew of roughing, interference and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
The Caps’ also stepped up on special teams, going 75 per cent on the penalty kill (3/4), to now lead the season-series 6-0-1.
Prince George’s female midget AAA hockey club takes the Kin 2 Arena ice against the Lakers tonight (Feb. 8) at 6 p.m. and Sunday morning (Feb. 9) at 8:30 a.m.
Imperial Oil stepped up to help Cariboo Hockey in making the first Pink in the Rink Night possible for Prince George’s female midget AAA hockey club.
This includes account executive Elizabeth Croteau, who is happy to see girls hockey being taken to the next level of community appreciation.
“We sponsor the Esso Cup,” said Croteau.
“We were able to talk to the girls beforehand and see them when they actually got their pink in the rink jerseys and we just absolutely love being able to see that and seeing that kind of healthy impact on a community.”
For commercial field marketing advisor Jannell Scott, watching the game and participating in Pink in the Rink hit home with her family connections to cancer.
“My grandfather, unfortunately, passed away from cancer and by brother is a stem-cell scientist at the University of Toronto. So he does a lot of research in regards to cancer. It was impactful to see all the girls in their pink jerseys as well to show support for the cause.”