There are a lot of hockey teams on Vancouver Island, but only one top tier female team.
The Victoria Island Seals midget AAA team is back and looking to better their second-place regular season B.C. conference finish last year.
The Seals graduated four players last season, but forward Anika Block, a Grade 12 student at Belmont Secondary school, said the team has strong returning players and some young new talent that could make them unstoppable.
“This year our team has a lot of potential to go even further, do as well as we did last year, if not even better,” she said. “It has a really good core, but the new girls have great potential so they will really help our team.”
An Island-wide team, the Seals practice at rinks in Duncan, Nanaimo and Shawnigan Lake. Block is a Highlands resident and carpools with her teammates who live on the West Shore, which means spending lots of time in the car together, talking, napping and doing homework.
“We definitely spend most of our time together, even [outside] of hockey. Our whole team is a great group of friends,” she said.
The bond her teammates share is another reason why she feels they will be successful this season.
“I love my team. They are all super supportive of each other, the coach too, he’s awesome. He’s super supportive, he really knows how to get the team going,” Block said.
The team plays about 50 games in a season, including travelling to four tournaments across Canada and the U.S. to play top competition. Block said she loves travelling to play, experiencing the hockey culture in different cities, and seeing the level of talent across North America.
Last year the Seals lost in the best-of-three semifinals in the B.C. conference and missed out on the opportunity to go to nationals. Only the top team in B.C. punches a ticket to nationals and Block believes the Seals are that team this year.
After the Seals lost in the playoffs last season they took a one-month break and then got back to work. The core group played spring hockey with the Seals, and practices and training started in late July.
The Seals played their first exhibition game Sept. 1 after the Gazette went to print.