The Whistler Women's Hockey League will open the adult recreational hockey season tonight (Sept. 23) with a trio of games at the Meadow Park Sports Centre arena. Roland's Thunder plays the lid lifter versus the Gone Bakery Wild at 8:30 p.m. The Pemberton Ice Caps tangle with the Subservo Choppers at 10:00 p.m.
The two-time defending champion Murphy's Hammers, with Jan Burgess and Janet Ouchterlony in the lineup, will play in the late game against the Blackcomb Killer Bees at 11:15 p.m.
"The team reps were commenting on how high the skill level was at this year's draft. We had 16 girls out last week and all of them were chosen to play for a team. That certainly bodes well for our league," commissioner Niki Vankerk said.
"Most of our players are from Whistler and Pemberton. This year a couple of girls from Squamish will join our league and it should be pretty competitive. We have a lot of really good players, some medium-level players and some that are just new to the game."
The first selection in the draft went to the Blackcomb Killer Bees, who chose former Spicy Sportz Stars centre Manon St. Pierre.
"I haven't played for two years so it's good to get back to hockey. I'm looking forward to meeting my new teammates. It should be fun," St. Pierre said.
The Whistler Oldtimers League will open proceedings on Sunday (Sept. 26). The Northlands Excavation Eagles play Tapley's Pub at 8:15 p.m. The Pemberton Silvertips go against the Players Choppers at 9:45 p.m. with the Old Stouts versus the Cobwebs at 11:15 pm.
The White Tops and Winterhawks have the bye on the first night of play. The Winterhawks debut on Wednesday (Sept. 29) against Players Choppers at 8:15 p.m. with the White Tops slated for later in the evening at 11:15 p.m. against the Pemberton Silvertips.
League commissioner Chuck Blaylock is a member of the Canadian Amateur Recreational Hockey Association Hall of Fame and was recently invited to an over-80 tournament at the Burnaby Winter Club.
"Aw, I played in an over-75 game in Parksville last year and scored two goals in the first five minutes. It might take me all season to score two goals in our league but that's OK," Blaylock said.
It should be noted that Blaylock is also the all-time career leader in penalty minutes in the Whistler Oldtimers League. As one wag put it last year: "Yeah, and he only gets called on half of them too."
Men's A, Rec leagues
Ian Pike returns as commissioner for both the Men's A League and the Men's Rec League. Both leagues begin play toward the end of September with six teams in the A League and 10 teams in the Men's Rec League.
Meantime, close to 200 youngsters will pull on Winterhawks socks and jerseys for the Whistler Minor Hockey Association this season. All 12 teams have begun practice with Rep teams at the Atom, Pee Wee, Bantam and Midget levels.
Joey Ewing will coach the Bantam Reps along with assistant coaches Cam Fellows and Mike Borrelli.
"I think we'll have a good solid team. We have a good core group returning from last year and some very good players coming up from Pee Wee," Borrelli said.
"It's a big leap forward for the first-year players but they'll be fine. All they need is the ice time."
Minor hockey games are slated for Saturday or Sunday at Meadow Park. The Bantam Reps play Saturdays at 4:45 p.m. with the Bantam Girls on ice Sundays at 10 a.m.
For the adult leagues, the Men's Rec League games are played Monday and Friday nights. The Men's A League play on Tuesdays and either Saturday or Sunday nights. The Oldtimers skate on Wednesdays and either Saturday or Sunday nights. The Women's league games are played Thursday nights.