Olivia Comeau doesn’t soak her hands in expensive dish detergent, but she does possess some of the sweetest digits with the Sladen Moore Lakers hockey club.
The smiling Grade 9 Fulton student leads the Lakers into the B.C. Bantam Female A Championships starting Sunday at Wesbild Centre.
Comeau, who turns 15 in late May, brings big-time experience to the Vernon team. She spent last season as a centre/left winger with the Calgary female Bantam AAA Rangers. She has tried to perfect the art of passing over the years.
“I went to a lot of camps in the summer, I’m pretty much on the ice all year-round and I work on my passing a lot,” said Comeau. “I wasn’t the best passer when I was younger so I’ve worked hard on it.”
A big fan of pass-happy phenoms Sidney Crosby and Pavel Datsyuk, the strong-skating Comeau will be going up against opposition top centres in the nine-team provincials. Vernon opens the four-day playoffs Sunday, 11 a.m. against Prince George.
“Olivia is one of the purest passers I’ve ever seen in the game,” said Lakers’ head coach Keith Tucker. “In the girls game, it’s not a skill that a lot of the girls have.
“She’s got very soft hands, she’s very smooth with the puck and she reads how fast somebody’s going and how close they are, and she can feather it, she can pass it hard when she needs to. She had something like 25 goals and over 40 assists.”
Comeau will start the tournament with Andie Kaneda on left wing and Taylor Vandale on the right wing.
“Andie sees the ice really well, Olivia has the skills and Taylor goes hard to the net so together, they get some rebounds and it’s quite effective,” said Tucker.
Comeau, who showed up at Monday night’s practice sporting yellow paint under her eyes after competing in Spirit Week at Fulton, hopes to play university hockey and see where that takes her.
What do the Lakers need to execute well for medal success?
“Our positioning. If we are all in the right position and our passes are on, then we can pretty much work good together. We work a lot behind the net and that seems to work for us.”
Comeau figures home cooking will benefit the Lakers.
“I’m really excited. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think it is an advantage having it played here. We get to sleep in our own beds and eat good meals.”
The second-youngest of four siblings, Comeau says the Lakers laugh and play hard together.
“We all get along, on and off the ice, and it’s always fun being at the rink. With a bunch of girls, it’s fun. We do a lot of team bonding. Last tournament (in the Kootenays), we spent two hours in a room and we all played team-building games and talked and socialized (under assistant coach Korri Vandale’s guidance). It brings us together as a team.”
Tucker, also assisted by Mike Joseph and Jeff Southam, had his troops skating lines for the final minutes Monday night. They showed no signs of being tired.
“We’re working the girls hard to get into shape; we have been for a while. It’s two games the first day and then a game a day and then into the semifinals and the final, we hope. They’re aware of what it’s gonna take. I’ve asked them to be on top of their fitness, their nutrition, getting their sleep so they’re ready physically, mentally and all good to go.”
The Lakers dominated the Kamloops Mystix all season before losing the Okanagan Mainline banner in a three-game series last month.
“We took our playoff series off,” said Tucker. “We took it for granted and Kamloops caught us which was a good lesson. I’m glad it happened then. The pool is good. We’re in a five-team pool as opposed to the four-team pool so we get four round-robin games. Three of the teams we’ve beat before and the one we haven’t seen is the Tri-Cities team.”
The North Shore Winter Club Winterhawks, Tri-Cities Predators (Coquitlam, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam), Prince George Cougars, Castlegar Wildcats, Juan de Fuca Grizzlies, Cranbrook Ice and Terrace Kermodes are also in the nine-team playdowns.
“I think we just have to show up with the energy,” added Tucker. “We can’t be overconfident. We’ve got a skilled group but they have to realize, and I think they do realize, that hard work will beat talent if talent doesn’t work hard. And that’s kind of been our motto.”