Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs forward Hailey Jackson takes a faceoff in a 2-1 loss to the Sherwood Park Royals on Saturday in the Bantam Elite Showcase. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

On Hockey Day in Canada, female players shine bright at Bantam Elite Showcase in Red Deer

AFHL Bantam Elite Showcase continues throughout the weekend at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre

On a day where hockey is being celebrated throughout the country, the girls were also out in Red Deer to showcase their skills.

All 12 teams from across the province in the Alberta Female Hockey League Bantam Elite (U15) division hit the ice this weekend at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre for the Bantam Elite Showcase.

For the host Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs, despite a pair of losses to open the weekend, it’s a chance to show off their skills and their new home rink in front of family and friends.

“It’s awesome we get to play in our rink, it’s cool to see all the teams come here and get to play teams we don’t usually play,” said Sutter Fund Chiefs forward Sydney Hollman.

Not only is the host group representing their hometown this weekend, but eight Sutter Fund Chiefs will also show off their skills on a bigger scale next weekend at the Alberta Winter Games. The games are a multi-sport event, that features eight zones competing in 20 different sports.

“Meeting a bunch of new friends will be pretty cool, I’m just excited for the experience of playing with Alberta, it’s always a good time,” said Aly Shaw, who is from Coronation and will be the lone member of the Sutter Fund Chiefs playing for Zone 7.

“It’ll be different, but it’ll be fun.”

Three players from the Sutter Fund Chiefs will play for Zone 2, including defenceman Emma Brooks, Ryann Holbein and Hollman. On Zone 3, forwards Lilly Howell and Belle Smith will play together. Hailey Jackson, Red Deer’s leading scorer, along with Calleja Misson will play up front for Zone 4.

In total, 106 players from the AFHL will play in the games in Airdrie, an opportunity to make new friends and see how they match up in a best-on-best tournament.

“Meeting new people, just getting to play with players that you usually play against,” added Misson, who has 10 goals and four assists in 20 games this year for the Sutter Fund Chiefs.

“It’s going to be different. You know their strengths playing against them, mentally you have work through that.”

In the regular season, the Sutter Fund Chiefs have had an up and down year with a 12-9-0 record that has them fourth in the AFHL south division. They have a plus-12 goal differential and Hollman thinks they’ll just have to keep getting better every day as the season moves forward.

“We have a lot of speed and a lot of talent, when we bring it together, it’s amazing to see how well we can do,” said Hollman.

Play continues throughout the day Saturday and Sunday, with the Sutter Fund Chiefs finishing off the showcase Sunday at 4 p.m. against the North Central Impact.

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Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs forward Belle Smith carries the puck out from behind the net in a 2-1 loss 2-1 loss to the Sherwood Park Royals on Saturday in the Bantam Elite Showcase. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

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