Laker duo adds net presence
Just call them weekend road warriors. Maya Baker drives in from Kelowna. Bailey Berndt comes in from Enderby.
Together, they form the stellar net detective tandem for the Sladen Moore Lakers, hosts of the B.C. Female Bantam A Hockey Championships starting this morning at Wesbild Centre.
Head coach Keith Tucker often chooses his starter based on what he sees in pre-game warmup. He will go with the hottest tender throughout the four-day playdowns.
Berndt has been around the Vernon girls hockey scene for a while. Baker is the newbie.
“Maya fits well with the group,” said Tucker. “She’s a strong goaltender and I think they really push each other. That’s been a good thing and they’ve played an equal amount of time and games and have been fairly equally effective.
“They both have good size. They both do the angles well. Maya’s up and down pretty quick and she’s strong on her angles, good glove. She’s smart, very determined and very focused. Maya is one of the hardest workers at practice and she has real strong desire to compete and succeed.”
Baker, a 14-year-old in Grade 9 at Okanagan Mission Secondary, is in her sixth year in net. Her twin brother, Colin, plays forward in Kelowna.
“I think I do anything to stop it,” said Baker, who also loves drawing, longboarding, dirt biking and swimming. “I’m not a butterfly, I’m not a standup. I just see the puck well. I’m a hybrid, I guess.”
A fan of goalies Cory Schneider, Jonathan Quick and Mikka Kiprusoff, Baker knows the Lakers have the moxy for a medal.
“I think we just need to be skating and passing, being a team. I don’t think we were bonded that weekend (Okanagan playoff final loss against the Kamloops Mystix). That was just an off day.”
Berndt just turned 15 and attends A.L. Fortune Secondary of Enderby. She used to play out in ringette and then got asked by friend Cassidy Marshall to play goal for her hockey team.
“I like to challenge the players, poke-checking them when I’m having a good game,” said Berndt. “I watch my corners pretty good when they do the wrap-a-around.”
Said Tucker, of Berndt: “Bailey’s been working really hard with Steve (goalie coach Sparks) at getting position and once she’s down, getting back up quick.
“They’ve both had success so it’s going to be interesting. We’re kind of leaving it up to them to battle for that No. 1 spot to see who’s going to carry us.”
Berndt reads books like The Mortal Instrument, The Hunger Games, the Canterwood Crest horse series and Blood Red Road to relax. She mixes up her pre-game rituals.
“Sometimes I will just get quiet and think about how I’m going to play. Sometimes, I’ll listen to music and get myself pumped up and ready to play. My dad (David) listens to 103.9 The Juice so he makes music for me. I like Loverboy’s Turn Me Loose, Nazareth, ZZ Top.”
Both Laker goalies aspire to play university hockey down the road.
The Lakers open the provincials today at 11 a.m. versus the Prince George Cougars and then face the Castlegar Wildcats tonight at 8:00.
Vernon battles the Tri-Cities Predators Monday at 8 p.m. and finishes pool play Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., against the Juan de Fuca Grizzles.
The semifinals go Wednesday at 8 and 11 a.m. with the final scheduled for 8 p.m.