They are calling it The Remembrance Day Classic.
Vernon female hockey will celebrate its rise in numbers by honouring fallen veterans and playing their inaugural Atom/Pee Wee tournament starting Friday at Kal Tire Place North and Priest Valley Arena.
“Greater Vernon Minor Hockey Association efforts to ensure Vernon has a female league has been well appreciated and welcomed by the community,” said tournament director Rocio Alejandre. “The turnout for female hockey has been overwhelming along with great community support. The Vernon Falcons (Atom) and the Vernon Predators (Pee Wee), will host six teams from Kelowna, Penticton, Richmond and Vancouver. To kick off the tournament, we will have the national anthem sung by Justin Moore and puck drop will be by Stella Soprano, a long-serving member of Legion Branch #25.”
Former Vernon Laker junior and St. Norbert Knights collegiate forward Spencer Ward is the head coach of the Atom Falcons, while Zenna Defoor is the head coach of the Pee Wee team. Ward is away this weekend so ex-BCHL goalie Chris Godard is stepping in as head coach of the Falcons.
“This is the first year we’ve had two girls teams,” said Ward. “We have 30 to 40 girls at practice Thursday nights. It’s great for the girls socially and emotionally. It’s very good for the girls to be around other girls on the ice and in the dressing room.”
For years, minor hockey has assigned one or two female players to teams mainly comprised of boys.
The Falcons open play Friday at 3:30 p.m. against the Kelowna Jets, while the Predators face the Kelowna Panthers at 5:15 p.m. Both games are at Kal Tire Place North.
The Penticton Dragons meet the Richmond Ravens in Atom play at 6 p.m. (PV Arena), while the Penticton Thunder tangle with Vancouver at 7 p.m. in a Pee Wee tilt (Kal Tire Place North).
Both finals go Sunday with the Atoms playing at 9:30 a.m. and the Pee Wees at 11:15 a.m., both at Kal Tire Place North.