A pair of Airdrie hockey players will represent their hometown when they lace up the skates and go for gold at the 2018 Alberta Winter Games.
Bantam Elite players Megan Yakiwchuk and Codi Bacon were both selected to represent one of the three southern squads in the biggest tournament either have taken part in.
“This is really exciting. I’m super happy and excited to play for this team, meet new people and improve in general,” Bacon said. “This was my third time trying out for this kind of a tournament, so I’ve always wanted to play for these teams and get to do the experience.”
Although the forwards are teammates in the Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL) as members of the Olds Grizzlys, they will be opponents in the Winter Games as they have been placed on separate teams. Yakiwchuk will represent Zone 2 and Bacon will represent Zone 3.
In previous years Alberta was separated into eight zones and players from within that zone were only able to play for that team, resulting in potentially stronger players being left out of the Alberta Winter Games due to team size constraints.
This year, there will only be six teams in the tournament with three representing southern Alberta and the other three representing the north. In addition, players can be placed on any of the three teams from their half of the province instead of being limited to their zone.
Yakiwchuk said she is excited for the opportunity to create bonds with other players from across southern Alberta, as well as getting the chance to play against her own teammates.
“I would be happy to play with (my Olds teammates), but it is what it is. I’m going to play my hardest,” Yakiwchuk said. “I’m still going to play my game, but it is going to be fun playing against them.”
As this is the final year of eligibility for both Yakiwchuk and Bacon to take part in the Alberta Winter Games, it was a do-or-die scenario when it came to making a team, and the girls seem to already be focused on team success.
“It is more important to succeed as a team, because then you know everyone all together has done what they need to do instead of just one player,” Bacon said. “If one player is playing well and the rest of the team is playing not well, then there is no point of even being there.
“The team comes first. Obviously, you make sure everyone is doing well, doing what they need to do, and then you push yourself to where you need to go.”
The Alberta Winter Games kickoff Feb. 16 in Wood Buffalo, Alta., and conclude Feb. 19. The schedules and pools have yet to be determined for the women’s hockey tournament.
With the Alberta Winter Games being such a short tournament both girls expressed how important it is to bond with their teams quickly.
“It will be fun getting to know new people. Obviously, it’s all about the experience, but I’m pretty sure we’re all hoping to win and go for gold,” Yakiwchuk said.