A league of their own
- Errol Kayseas | November 11, 2023
Saskatchewan is home to an all-new, female, U-22 junior hockey league and this hockey dad couldn’t be happier.
The six-team Bourgault Saskatchewan Junior Female Hockey League (SFJHL) kicked off the season last month and I was there to see the puck drop between the Outlook Ice Hawks and the Saskatoon Prairie Blaze.
It’s the first-time elite female hockey players have a league to call their own.
The promotion of women in hockey is an easy decision for me because my daughter Anna plays with the U-11 Western Prairie Redwings, all-girls hockey team.
With the launch of the SFJHL, she not only has an opportunity to continue playing the sport she loves when she gets older, but she has many role models including several First Nation hockey players who play on five of the six teams in the league.
It’s so important for everyone to promote and support the young Indigenous women on these teams because inclusion at all levels of sport is something positive for the entire province.
It’s Reconciliation through sports and team building.
The league kicked off on Oct. 7 in Gull Lake with the Southwest Impacts hosting the Lumsden Lynx.
At the Oct. 15 game I attended, the Prairie Blaze dominated with a 4-0 win over the Ice Hawks.
The Ice Hawks didn’t have too many scoring opportunities except in the third period.
The level of competition was unreal, especially when a Prairie Blaze player muscled the puck from an Ice Hawk, passing it to her teammate in front and tapping it in for an easy goal.
The players showed spirit and grit as they wrestled in front on several occasions, the physicality was completely intentional, so I quickly learned this is a part of the women’s game.
It was a proud moment for me because I was witnessing the first Indigenous women to play in the SJFHL and they can officially call themselves legit legends.
Some of those legends include Lashanti Iron (Canoe Lake), Bernice Keshane (Keeseekoose), Kylie Lariviere (English River), Kaylee Lavallee (Muscowpetung), Mary McKay (Red Earth), Elliana McKay (Kahkewistahaw) Tori McNabb (Standing Buffalo), Kenzie Swiftwolfe (Moosomin), Keegan Tipewan (Witchekan), Quterie Tipewan (Witchekan) and Brynn Wuttunee (Red Pheasant).
The development of an all-female hockey league is great because it provides an opportunity for all those young hockey players who dream of competing internationally and one day becoming the next Brigette LacQuette.
For those who don’t follow women’s hockey here is a brief recap.
Lacquette from Cote First Nation broke many glass ceilings during her hockey career, which is far from over,
She was the first First Nation’s player to make Team Canada and won a silver medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games.
In 2021, she made history again when the Chicago Black Hawks hired her as an NHL scout, making her the first Indigenous woman to hold such a position.
Her fans will be happy to know she hasn’t hung up her skates just yet.
Lacquette is now part of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association. She is on Team Scotiabank and plays out of the Calgary area.
As a hockey dad, I can say 2023 is shaping up to be a great year for Indigenous female hockey.
According to the SFJHL website, the league’s Championship Weekend, is set to be hosted in Outlook from March 9-10, 2024, where the teams compete to hoist the newly christened Bourgault Cup.
Good luck to everyone in the new SFJHL.