V.I. Seals player Katie Banman, right, defends against a Shawnigan Lake player during an exhibition match in September. Submitted

Sticking with the top girls hockey team on the Island

V.I. Seals ready for another midget AAA hockey season

As long as she gets to play on the top team on Vancouver Island, Katie Banman is a happy hockey player.

This is Banman’s second year playing defence for the V.I. Seals in the BC AAA Midget female hockey league, the top women’s youth program in the province, and it’s her first time as a full timer.

Related: Top tier girls hockey team looking to be better than last year

Last year, the Strawberry Vale resident played with boys on a Saanich Braves minor hockey midget house team and affiliated as a “hired gun” for about 10 games with the Seals. This year, Banman has made the full commitment, which comprises of two to four trips week to practice with the rest of the team in either Shawnigan Lake or The Stick in Duncan. It’s a lot of time spent traveling to practice (let alone about 15 to 20 off-Island league games), but when your team draws players from Port Hardy to North Saanich, you need to meet somewhere in the middle.

“It’s definitely a time commitment but it’s also a unique opportunity,” said Banman, a Grade 12 student in the hockey academy program at Spectrum Community School. “We all know what we get to be a part of, it’s the sacrifice you make to play at the top level, and it’s often only about 45 minutes from my house, so it’s not too bad.”

The team is off and running ahead of the October start for the BC Midget AAA season. Last week they attended the Fire Starter tournament in Calgary though it started a little rough. The Seals dropped a 10-0 loss in the opener to Saskatoon. The Island team bounced back to beat Prince Albert 4-2. They then lost a close 1-0 game to former national champion Rocky Mountain Raiders, and ended with a 4-2 loss to Prince Albert.

One goal is to qualify for the Esso Cup nationals.

In total, the Seals will travel off-Island for about 10 weekends of league play and about three to five showcases and tournaments, Banman said. It’s a hockey life for the teen, who is also on the ice three days a week with Spectrum.

“The tournament showcases are a really important aspect of the league, and season, if you’re looking to pursue hockey at the post secondary level,” said Banman, who has already talked to recruiters about post secondary options. “This is also an opportunity to travel and experience the travel, to see if I want to travel for hockey.”

Coach Chris Atchison noted that without the Seals, players would have to seek high performance hockey at prep schools and academy options out of town.

“[The Seals program allows the players] to live in their home environment for their high school years,” Atchison said. “We know that there will always be an aspect of the hockey world that feels the need to leave the island (or just home) to chase a dream. However, we also know that these young players can thrive, mature and advance in life and sport through the stable influence that a family and a competitive local option can offer.”

reporter@saanichnews.com


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V.I. Seals player Katie Banman, centre, defends against a Shawnigan Lake player during an exhibition match in September. Submitted

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