With only 26 goals in 18 regular season games, scoring hasn’t come naturally to the Bursey Buryn Cougars female hockey team.
So should the Cougars be pressing for more goals next week in Nelson, where they’re hitting the ice for the five-day Female Midget AAA Provincial Championship?
According to their coach, they should be more concerned about the other end of the ice.
“Cut down the goals against and the goals will come. Team defence is your best offence,” Cougars head coach Terri Pfliger said.
More unappealing than their goals for total is the Cougars’ goals against figure of 119, which averages out to 6.6 over 18 games.
They finished last in the seven-team BC Hockey Female Midget AAA League with two wins, 15 losses and a tie (2-15-1), and are clear underdogs entering provincials. But Pfliger is hopeful they’ll come away from the tournament with a few wins.
“You never know. If the team comes out and plays hard and our best players are our best players and we do the things that we want to do and stick to the game plan, we should have some success,” she said.
The Cougars are led offensively by Karlie Martens of Vanderhoof, who finished fifth in league scoring with 12 goals and four assists for 16 points. She’s one of four returning players from last season, as defenceman Olivia Smith of Prince George, forward Kristin Becker of Smithers and forward/defenceman Moira O’Brien of Vanderhoof also suited up for the team in the 2007-08 campaign.
The team won’t have a lot of time to stretch their muscles after arriving in Nelson. They’re travelling by bus to the West Kootenay city on Saturday, and open their schedule on Sunday morning with a game at 10:45 a.m. against the Fraser Valley Phantom. The schedule may do the Cougars a favour, as one of their two regular season victories came against the fifth-place Phantom (7-9-2), a 5-2 triumph on Jan. 10 at the Kin Centre.
“We feel that we can beat them, just hopefully we show up to play,” Pfliger said.
The Cougars will meet each team once during the round robin. The top two teams after the round robin will meet in the championship final, slated for Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
“There’s seven teams out there wanting to be provincial champions,” Pfliger said.
The Cougars are coming off a 2-1 victory over the Kootenay Wildcats in their final regular season game, Feb. 21 in the Lower Mainland. The Wildcats are 11-5-2 and among a few teams that stand a good chance of qualifying for Thursday’s gold medal game.
Having battled with a short bench this season, the addition of three players from Fort St. John has helped Pfliger fill her roster. Joining the team in Nelson will be forward Robyn Murphy, forward Brittney Sawka and defenceman Bethany Roy.
Pfliger said 14 skaters and two goalies are representing the team at the provincial tournament.
“We’re good to go and we’re anxious to get started.”