A local hockey player got a chance to meet her hero at a recent tournament in Calgary.
Brittney Konkin, who attends Grand Forks Secondary, got to not only meet former five-time Canadian Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser at the World Hockey Festival on Nov. 28-30, but her team, the West Kootenay Wildcats, won their division.
“We went to WickFest in Calgary,” she said. “It’s a world hockey tournament that Hayley Wickenheiser puts on. She’s an Olympian. Natalie Spooner and Megan Nicolson (former Olympians) were there as well and I got to meet all three of them.”
The tournament featured 80 female teams with several different divisions and tiers. Konkin’s team played in the Bantam tier 1 division and managed to take top spot.
The team played four round-robin games and went 2-1-1, beating Snakebite from Edmonton, winning by disqualification over Prince George, and losing to Sherwood Park from Edmonton. In the final, the Wildcats faced Sherwood Park from Edmonton, the team that beat them in the round-robin, and won 2-0 to take the title.
“We did really good,” said Konkin. “I was really proud of my team because we really played as a team. I felt I played good and really helped the team.”
Konkin said she and the team improved over the course of the tournament. She said she was really nervous before the final game but after the first period she started to relax and play well.
“I wasn’t playing that well at the start but then I stepped it up,” she said. “We won and I was really happy.”
Konkin said she and her teammates got to meet Wickenheiser and the other Olympians during the opening ceremony and then again at one of the autograph sessions.
“They were talking about what it was like in the Olympics and what it was like to train,” recalled Konkin. “Hayley Wickenheiser watched some of our final game and congratulated us afterwards.”
Konkin said she found it very inspiring to meet and talk with the Olympians.
“Especially when they talked about the Olympics and what they were feeling,” she said. “They inspired me a lot.”
Konkin has played with the Wildcats for three years now. She has to travel to Castlegar twice a week for practices with the team, which is an under-15 girls rep team featuring players from across the West Kootenays.
“We are doing really good,” said Konkin, who plays left defence. “We won our first tournament. We’ve been winning most of our games. I think we’ve only lost two games all season.”
The team plays in the Okanagan league, which features teams from Kelowna, Kamloops, Prince George and Williams Lake.