Celebrating 10 years of prep hockey at Balmoral Hall School, 18 girls face their Junior Women’s Hockey League (JWHL) rivals in front of enthusiastic hometown fans now through Sunday at MTS Iceplex (3969 Portage Ave.).
Clad in green and gold, wearing commemorative tenth anniversary jerseys, and their hair braided by teammates, the Blazers will host fellow North Division teams throughout this weekend.
It has been two years since the elite girls’ prep hockey team has played a league game at home in Winnipeg. The excitement is palpable.
“It means a lot to us that our families and friends look forward to watching us play here,” says Captain Emily Middagh, a Grade 12 student. “At this level, the competition is rougher. These games (versus other Canadian teams) will be good ones.”
For eight months of the year, the girls study together, train together, and skate together as they travel to cities throughout North America competing at the highest levels.
Furthering its university preparatory mission, Balmoral Hall chartered a sport school program at a time when collegiate opportunities for female hockey players were all-too rare.
Now, 10 years later, there are more opportunities than ever. In fact, members of Team Manitoba, including Middagh as well as Blazers teammates Ryleigh Houston and Kelli Rowswell, brought home a silver medal from u-18 nationals earlier this month.
Theirs is not only a story of goals scored, scholarships awarded, or friendships made to last a lifetime, though. Their story is that of every young woman who has worn a Blazers jersey since 2006/07. It is a story of confidence, competence, and connectedness.
A Team Canada phenom inspiring those who share her beginnings. An alumna cheering on her former teammates. This is Blazers prep hockey.
Tonight, the Blazers will celebrate this milestone (in true Winnipeg fashion) with a whiteout. Gametime is 5:45 p.m. versus Pacific Steelers, and youth in attendance will receive a commemorative white t-shirt.
After the game, they will have the opportunity to skate with the Blazers provided they have brought skates and helmets.