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This article was published 30/11/2017 (1673 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
They may have started at the bottom but the members of Kildonan East Reivers women’s hockey team are holding their own this season.
"Last year the girls had a bit of a rough go," admitted Taylor Wilgosh, a hairstyling instructor at KEC and first-year coach with the team.
The Reivers spent their inaugural season in the Winnipeg Women’s Hockey League without posting a single win. However, only 10 games into the 2017-18 season, the Reivers have notched four Ws, a tie, and an overtime loss for a total of 10 points leading up to their Dec. 4 game against the West Kildonan Wolverines.
"I think we can finally compete because we have the same number of girls as the other teams," said team captain Kayleen Tetreault, a Grade 12 veteran of last year’s squad.
Last season, the Reivers only had 12 players, while this year they can ice a full roster of 17, with varying hockey experience.
"We have hockey girls in Grade 9 from Valley Gardens, and also some amazing skaters who are ringette girls who are still learning, but improving every game."
"I think we can compete with all the teams in the division," agreed Emily Fontaine, one of those Grade 9 rookies from Valley Gardens who joined the team this season. Fontaine also plays AA hockey.
"We always backcheck and we have speed. But at the same time our passing and shots need to work."
"We’ve been building off what we did last year," said Kailee Anderson, who played goal for the Reivers last season in her Grade 12 year at River East Collegiate. This year, she returned to the team as a coach. "We’re working on skills, trying to put the game play from practice into games itself. I think it’s been showing."
Key to the early success the team has enjoyed so far this season has been playing as a team.
"Communication between girls is good," Anderson said. "We’ve been working together awesome."
"We support each other," said Tetreault, who plays centre and describes herself as a "team player with a positive attitude."
"Team bonding, for me, is the most important thing," Wilgosh said. "Girls can be very competitive. I want them to have fun and enjoy it. I think that’s coming through. They’re laughing on the bench and in the change room."
"I like winning more than losing every game," agreed Tetreault, who has a goal and six assists in her first eight games. "There’s a different atmosphere having those wins. There’s some spirit there."
The team has also had some help from goaltender Samantha Robert, an import from Murdoch MacKay. In her nine starts, Robert is 4-4-1 with a goals against average of 3.11.
"She’s an amazing goalie who keeps us in the game," said Tetreault.
While 17-year-old Tetreault wears the C as captain, the Reivers are finding it takes a team effort to win games.
"Last year, Kayleen took a big role in being leader in that sense," Anderson said. "But really, this year, on the ice every single girl has taken on a leadership role. Everyone’s stepping up in their own ways, filling the gaps."
One thing the Reivers will have to improve on is their penalty killing or, better yet, staying out of the penalty box entirely.
"We need to stay out of the penalty box, and hold our temper," Tetreault said. "Some of us can retaliate too much, and it results in a penalty. There’s no benefit there."
"They’re very aggressive," Wilgosh admitted. "They come out working hard, and they go hard to the net."
Heading into the second half of the season, the Reivers are hoping to keep the momentum rolling and see what they can do come playoffs.
"We’re in a well-balanced division," Gilgosh said. "Nobody’s crushed us, we haven’t crushed anybody else. Anything can happen."
"My main goal from the beginning was to win a game, which is what we’ve been doing," Anderson added. "Hopefully we can just keep that going."
Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7112