One year after a silver finish to the Kimberley/Cranbrook 55+ BC Games the Kootenay Ice Agers women’s hockey team travelled to Kelowna ready to challenge for the 2019 gold medal. A top-two finish was also a goal as it would qualify the Ice Agers for the 2020 Nationals in Kamloops next August.
Competition started on Wednesday, Sept. 11, with a close 3-1 win over the Tsunami Storm from Vancouver Island North (Zone 2) at the Capital News Centre, where all the women’s hockey games were held.
Thursday saw two games for the East Kootenay squad, starting with a 6-0 victory over the (Zone 1) Boomer Babes from Vancouver Island South followed by a hard fought 4-1 win over the Goal Diggers from the West Kootenay Boundary (Zone 6).
The Ice Agers finished the round robin on Friday by topping the Silver Sistas (Zone 2) by a 6-1 tally. The fifteen-player squad were the only undefeated team through the seven-team round robin play skating away with four wins.
The perfect record earned the Ice Agers the home team advantage in the gold medal match on Saturday afternoon. It would be a rematch of last year’s finalists, the Zone 7 East Kootenay Ice Agers versus the 2018 champion Sharpshooters from the Lower Mainland (Zone 4).
The Sharpshooters took the inaugural women’s hockey BC 55+ title in Kimberley last year by a 2-1 score.
This year’s championship game was scoreless until just over eight minutes remaining in regulation time when Sandy Hughes tallied what was to be the game’s only goal with an assist from Carol Canning. The goal came off a face off play with Hughes taking the draw back to Canning on defence who quickly returned the puck to Hughes who buried the puck into the lower left corner of the net.
The Sharpshooters who had the advantage in play throughout the game pressed hard for the equalizer, including a powerplay, in the final minutes but the Ice Agers held on for the 1-0 victory.
Jean Terpsma was outstanding in goal for the Ice Agers earning the shutout.
It was a bittersweet time for Sandy, the golden goal scorer. On Friday, in the midst of relishing in four consecutive victories at the 55+ Games and moving on to the Gold medal match, Sandy received word that her family’s 16-year-old pup had passed away back home in Cranbrook.
She posted this message on her Facebook page on Friday, “He was this little “inadequate“ rescue dog from the SPCA who was anything but inadequate and wormed his way into our hearts. I’m going to miss him so much. So long little buddy — you were the best dog money could buy. I’m going for gold tomorrow for Beezer.”
The veteran center did just that, playing an amazing gold medal game despite skating with a heavy heart and her Beezer was her inspiration once again helping her to put that puck into the net.
The Ice Agers scored a total of 20 goals in the provincial tourney with Sandy Hughes leading the way, scoring in every game and finishing with six goals including the golden goal in the final. Diane Butz, who competed last year as a dragon boater, potted three goals including two game winners.
Sherra Jones, in her rookie Games, also tallied three goals and added 5 assists.
Kelle Maag, who made the move to forward from defence for the tournament found the back of the net twice to great cheers from her teammates. Rounding out the goal scorers were Marlyn Donaldson, Sharon McDowell and Bernie Dwan each with a pair of markers.
“The balanced scoring from all three forward lines was a big key to our success.” said Coach Rick McFarlane. “Our defence was solid throughout the tournament and the forwards did a great job of backchecking”.
The goalie tandem of Jean Terpsma and Melanie McFarlane held their opponents to only three goals in five games with Terpsma earning two shutouts including the stellar netminding effort to blank the Sharpshooters in the gold game.
“The 55+ Games have relit my competitive spark and at the same time they have brought me tremendous joy and pride to be part of our women’s hockey team” said Jean Terpsma. “My life has been filled with team sports and I intend on continuing that for many years to come. Seeing athletes in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s inspires me to keep healthy & active, and hopefully I am able to play hockey for a long time!”
The players have also inspired family, friends and coaches with their hard work and enthusiastic attitude, “I can’t say enough about the Ice Agers ladies hockey team that won Gold at the 55+ games in Kelowna. Their pure determination and will was something to be seen. Proud to be a small part of it.” said Jacqui Brown, Assistant Coach, Kootenay Ice Agers.
“What a privilege and an honour to play ice hockey with a great bunch of women.” said defenceman Shauna Walls. “We proved that bumps, bruises, and aging bodies are not a barrier to the shared laughter, tears, and of course a GOLD medal win…it makes us feel like kids again!”
The whole 55+ BC Games was a terrific experience for the Ice Agers, from marching into the Opening Ceremonies to the last buzzer and celebration. “It is an honour to be part of the Kootenay Ice Agers and to play with such a vibrant group of women.” said winger Diane Butz. “We are a team on the ice and off the ice. We have each other’s back always. The Gold Medal was won by the entire team. Every person on that bench contributed everything they had at every game. I’m proud to be called an Ice Ager.”
Asking what the difference from last year’s team was and the answer was “Coaching”. “The experience playing on a team that has a short time to prepare, we can attribute the success to the dedication of our coach Rick McFarlane” said Sharon McDowell.
“His coaching was paramount and very well received as many of us have never been coached previous. Through our practices you could see the improvement which prepared us and enabled us to be successful in the actual games. Coach was excellent both in practices and games with his ongoing supportive words we were able to accomplish our goal. Coaches words “You control your destiny” and “Have Fun!””
This year’s Kelowna 55+ BC Games featured 30 different sports over the four-day competition. “It was a fantastic experience participating in my first 55 plus games. Seeing all those seniors engaged in sports is truly inspiring” said winger Kelle Maag.
The Kootenay Ice Agers are the 2019 55+ BC Games Women’s Hockey Champions and are now looking ahead to the 2020 55+ Nationals in Kamloops next August followed by defending their 55+ BC Games title next September in Richmond.
Medal Results – Women’s Hockey
GOLD — Kootenay Ice Agers (Z-7)
SILVER — Sharpshooters (Z-4)
BRONZE — Tsunami Storm (Z-2)
For more 2019 55+ BC Games results check out www.55plusbcgames.org/kelowna2019.