Although she won’t turn 15 until after the end of the season, Abagael Thiessen doesn’t look out of place with the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs major midget hockey team.
In fact the Red Deer native is the team’s leading scorer on defence with a goal and six assists.
Thiessen had her first pair of skates when she was three and started playing hockey at age five.
“My parents tell me my older brother was playing and I asked dad ‘why can’t I play’ and that’s what started it,” she said following the Chiefs 5-0 loss to the Calgary Bruins in Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League play at Kin City Arena B Saturday.
Thiessen played boys’ hockey until last year when she joined the Red Deer bantam AAA Sutter Fund Chiefs.
“I always tried to play at highest level I could,” she explained. “I played atom A and AA and peewee A and AA with the boys and that helped me get to where I’m at now.”
She’s still eligible to play with the bantam AAA squad, but wanted a shot at stepping up.
“It’s a rebuilding year here, but even if it wasn’t I would have tried out,” explained Thiessen, who has played defence most of her career, although she did see some time up front.
“I played some forward when I was younger and some in the spring,” she said. “It was good for me as I got more of an edge and I can take the puck and rush when I get a chance.”
Although she has the size to play at the midget level she did have some adjustments to make.
“The strength was the biggest thing as I was getting knocked around a bit by girls four years older when I first came in. I have to continue to work on my strength, that’s the biggest thing.”
She also noticed the outside speed early on, but has no problem with that. In fact skating and ability to move the puck are two of her strengths.
“My ability to see the ice makes it easier to play here, so I’m not coughing up the puck and getting scared when the girls are coming at me,” she said.
Thiessen has already played provincially attending the provincial U16 camp last year and has twice competed at the Alberta Winter Games.
“I played in the Games when I was 11 and then last year I was the captain,” she said. “The first time we finished fourth while we were seventh last year, which was disappointing.”
She could return to the U16 camp, but would like to move up to the U18 level.
“We’ll have to see how that goes,” she said.
The Chiefs have had a number of outstanding defencemen over the years such as Carlee Ness, Amanda Young, Hannah Mousek and Taryn Baumgardt, to name a few.
Thiessen played with Baumgardt in her first appearance in Alberta Winter Games and models herself after Mousek.
“I like the way she skates and moves the puck,” she said.
It’s been a bit of a disappointing season for the Chiefs, who have a 5-15-8 record.
“A little disappointing, but hopefully over the next few years I play here we step it up,” added Thiessen.
Scutchings was disappointed in the team’s effort against the Bruins, especially when Red Deer had seemed to be turning things around.
They had a 3-1-3 record over their last seven games prior to Saturday.
“Very disappointingly,” said Scutchings, who saw the team slip two points back of the Bruins in the battle for fourth place in the South Division.
“For us it’s trying to build momentum and not worrying about what spot we’re trying to get to. We’re trying to play better hockey. The girls have worked hard up until today’s little hiccup. It’s back to working hard in practice and coming back next weekend.”
The Chiefs, who have four games remaining— all at home, host Lloydminster next Saturday (4:30 p.m.) and Sunday (12:45 p.m.) at Kin City. They also have two games in hand over the Bruins.
Red Deer held a 24-20 edge in shots on goal against the Bruins. Aly Andersen played 33 minutes and allowed four goals on 11 shots before leaving with a slight injury. Nisa Bartlett made eight saves on nine shots.