PENHOLD – The Central Alberta Amazons are off to another strong season.
The Junior A female hockey team based in Penhold was sitting in second place in the south division last week and was tied for second place overall in the league with 27 points and a 13-4 record at the Christmas break.
“We started the season off with a bang. We went on a 10-game winning streak,” said team manager Heather Kirkham, noting the record-setting streak.
The Amazons play in the nine-team, two-division Alberta Junior Female Hockey League. Players range in age from 17 to 21, and come from all over Canada, including British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario to play in the competitive league.
“Out of the 21 players we have nine returnees from last year’s team and 12 new players on the roster,” said Kirkham, adding they have Randy Burt behind the bench as their new head coach this year.
The regular season began in early October and will finish at the end of February before playoffs begin in March.
Despite many new players, Kirkham said the team is coming together well.
“We don’t have one standout player, they’re all working hard,” said Kirkham. “Every point they get takes a lot of time, effort and energy. They’re practising a lot on different plays and everybody is contributing.”
The team has juggled the lines often in the first half of the season to try different combinations, find chemistry and improve skills, she noted.
“We’re trying to find a really good mix and now is the time for us to mix and match. As they continue, each one has a different skill set that will draw out (skills) of another player,” added Kirkham. “They are all working on each other’s weaknesses and with each other’s strengths.”
The Amazons are strong between the pipes again this season, with goalie Nisa Bartlett leading the league with a .956 save percentage and 1.12 goals against average.
“Our goalie — bar none — is the best goalie around. She’s top-notch,” said Kirkham, noting they just signed a second goalie to the roster, Innisfail’s Jayda Thompson.
With a strong start, Kirkham said they have high expectations for the second half of the season.
“Our goal is to go to the finals and win the league this year,” Kirkham concluded.
Heather Kirkham, team manager
“We started the season off with a bang. We went on a 10-game winning streak.”