It’s no surprise that Hailey Smyl decided to drop figure skating and concentrate on playing hockey as a youngster.
After all it’s in her bloodlines.
The 18-year-old from Chilliwack, B.C., is the daughter of long time junior A coach Harvey Smyl and niece of former Vancouver Canucks star Stan Smyl.
“It’s a hockey family so I was set up pretty good,” said Smyl, who is in her first season with the RDC Queens. “My dad played with Michigan State (for three seasons) and is a long time junior coach so I learned the game through him. I did attend my uncle’s hockey camp and my dad took that over, so both of them helped me, but mainly it was my dad.
“I did go back and forth between figure skating and hockey when I was very young, but I’m not that graceful,” she said with a laugh.
The five-foot-nine winger is one of the bigger players on the Queens and of late is using her size and speed to start making a major contribution to the RDC offence. She finished the season with two goals and four assists in 16 games. Both goals came in her final two games.
“I’m playing with more confidence for sure,” she said as the Queens prepare for the Alberta Colleges Women’s Hockey League semifinals against the NAIT Ooks. “Moving away from home and not knowing anyone took some time to get used to. I was 18 and playing with players who are 26 is a bit intimidating at first, but now I’m settled in.”
“It’s been an up and down season for Hailey, but she’s learning,” said Queens head coach Bob Rutz. “She doesn’t realize how big she is and once she learns to use that size and with her speed she’ll be tough to handle for anyone. She has really improved the defensive part of her game, but it’s been process. Then again it’s a big step up from midget to this league.”
Smyl played almost every game for the Queens, but was on the third or fourth lines.
“My ice time wasn’t what I was used to, but you expect that as a rookie,” said Smyl, who was recruited by former coach Trevor Keeper.
But that time will go up over the next several years as she is in education and will be here for “three or four” years.”
As for recruits, Rutz has been talking with several players, but hasn’t announced any commitments yet.
The Queens open the best-of-three semifinal Friday at 7 p.m. at NAIT with the second game Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Arena. The third game, if necessary is Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at NAIT.
The winner faces the Grant MacEwan University Griffins in the best-of-five final.
l It’s a big weekend for the RDC Queens basketball squad as they visit Lethbridge for games Friday and Saturday.
The Queens can wrap up a playoff berth with at least a split. The Kings have already wrapped up first place.
l In the CCAA rankings the volleyball Kings remain in top spot with Grant MacEwan second after the teams split a weekend doubleheader. The volleyball Queens slipped to eighth after losing twice to GMU, who is ranked fifth.
The basketball Kings are still ranked fourth.
l In other volleyball news the Queens finished first in the standings despite tying for first with GMU and Grande Prairie, all at 15-3. It came down to a better record against similar opponents.
The women’s playoffs go Feb. 21-23 in Grande Prairie while the Kings host the men’s championships.
l The hockey Kings are on the road this weekend as they visit Briercrest Bible College Friday and Saturday. They have four games remaining on the schedule and if they win all four they finish no worse than third and will play the sixth-place team in the quarter-finals.
l It was announced that Calgary Flames stars, Lanny McDonald, Tim Hunter and Jim Peplinski will be the feature speakers at the 11th annual RDC athletics scholarship breakfast, set for March 4 at the Parkland Pavilion at the Westerner.
The breakfast goes from 7:30-9:30 a.m. with tickets $150 each or a corporate table of eight for $1,000.
The scholarship breakfast is one of the top fund raisers for student athletes. Since it’s inception the breakfast has raised over $280,000 for athletic scholarships through the RDC Athletic Leadership Endowment.
Tickets are now on sale at the Black Knight ticket centre (403-755-6626) or at www.bkticketcentre.ca.
l Volleyball dominated the RDC Boston Pizza RDC athlete of the week voting, with right side Karissa Kuhr and middle Chris Osborn receiving the awards.
Kuhr was a leader for the Queens against GMU with 19 kills, three aces, 32 digs and two stuff blocks in the two matches. Osborn had 22 kills and seven blocks.
l The basketball Kings received the Breathing Room team of the week award.