Airdrie woman wins provincial hockey gold
It was a fight to the finish, but Samantha Jones of Airdrie is no stranger to adversity. Jones helped her Lethbridge Jr. Eagles team rally back from a two-game deficit to win the Alberta Junior Female Hockey League (AJFHL) championship over the Irma Chargers on April 7 in Lethbridge.
“It was very exciting, just being a part of the team all season has been a great experience,” said Jones.
This was Jones’ first season with the team. The 18-year-old hockey player moved from Airdrie, after gradating from George McDougall in 2011, to attend university in Lethbridge.
“It was an incredible series, and we’re very proud of her,” said Jones’ mother, Ruanna.
“I’ve had people coming up to me in town all week, asking about it.”
Prior to joining the Jr. Eagles, Jones played for the AAA Highwood Raiders, but from Tyke to Midget (1999 to 2010) she played on boys teams with Airdrie Minor Hockey. Jones said mentorship from several people in Airdrie’s tight-knit hockey community, including current Mayor Peter Brown, is who she owes much of her hockey success to.
“They pretty much taught me everything I know,” she said.
Jones said playing on male teams for the majority of her minor hockey career influenced her physical playing style, as it helped her “toughen up.” And while she admits the atmosphere is slightly different in male dressing rooms than in female ones, her teammates were always respectful when she played in Airdrie.
“I was just happy to play, and the guys were always good as far as supporting me and wanting me to do better,” Jones said of her male hockey peers in Airdrie.
She said getting the assist on the series-winning goal on April 7 in Lethbridge will be a memory she will cherish forever, and that she plans to play with the Jr. Eagles next season.
During the summer, she will be working for the City of Airdrie’s parks and recreation department and on her family’s farm.
She said once she graduates with degrees in business management and biology from the University of Lethbridge, she hopes to have a career in civil engineering or city planning. Jones said she will play hockey at the highest levels her talent allows for as long as possible, but would ultimately like to become a mentor or coach to young women in Airdrie.
“My aspirations are to coach and teach Power Skating and just inspire other girls to continue with hockey,” she said.
When asked what message she would give to young girls currently considering trying out for male teams, Jones responded with a single sentence of encouragement.
“Lace up the skates and push those boys around.”