New hockey parents can have difficulties sorting out which kid is which on the ice. While it may have been an issue when twins Melinda and Alisha Choy started with Saanich Minor hockey in Grade 6 it didn’t take long for them to adapt very different roles.
Melinda straps on thick goaltender pads to protect the net, while Alisha batters opposing netminders notching goal after goal.
They play for the Island Pacific Hockey Association’s Senior A team, the Phantoms. Last season Alisha was the South Coast league’s top scorer with 22 goals and 13 assists.
“Alisha’s the biggest game breaker. If we’re down a goal or need a goal ... she’s the one that will step up and do it,” coach John Lou-Poy said. “Her style of game is a power forward.”
Melinda won a gold medal with the Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s national women’s ice hockey team at the 2009 FISU Games in Harbin, China.
“Melinda, she’s played at the best level that you can find for that given age group,” said Lou-Poy, referring to the gold-medal win. “She’s a very, very good athlete, they’re both excellent athletes. They’ve always been very good physically with dexterity and co-ordination.”
The women are products of a continuous female hockey program in Saanich, starting as sixth graders with only road hockey skills honed in the street alongside the coach’s daughter, Pam, also a member of the Phantoms.
“That was the first year the Saanich Braves offered a girls team,” Alisha explained.
The twins took a unique path to senior A women’s hockey, playing only in girl-specific programs along the way, including with the now-defunct midget rep Breakers program. Most girls play at least one or two minor hockey seasons with boys.
“You get the most experience with U18 women’s teams and (regional) teams. That’s where you get scouted,” added Melinda, who was sharing net duties in her second minor hockey season.
Now 25, the Choys really do share a career. They’ve rarely played apart, on regional selection teams, and made the trip together to play with the UBC Thunderbirds varsity team.
“Playing at UBC was a high because it was competitive and we got to travel and be a group,” Alisha said.
They started a third season with the Phantoms in September, with hopes of a bolstered roster this season.
“All our competition is off-Island,” Melinda explained. Away rosters are affected by work and home commitments. Despite taking a team of just 11 players, with two forward lines, the Phantoms finished third at provincials last season. Accolades and medals, however, aren’t the largest lure of the sport.
“For younger girls its a good learning environment. It’s friendly and you can build confidence and self esteem,” said Melinda.
For more information on the Phantoms visit victoriaphantoms.com or email manager Brigitte MacKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org or coach Lou-Poy at email@example.com.
The Phantoms won, lost and tied at the World Girls Tournament in Surrey Oct. 5 and 6. On Oct. 26 the Phantoms host South Fraser at Panorama Rec Centre, at 9:15 a.m.