Peewee girls hit the international stage

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It was about the experience, not the final score.

“It was a unique opportunity for the girls to play an international team all the way from China,” said Okotoks Peewee A Girls Oilers coach Darcy Williams. “It wasn’t just a hockey game, it was an opportunity to play a team that they might never get to experience in their lives.”

The Oilers dropped a 3-0 decision to a team from Harbin, China Thursday at Calgary’s Father David Bauer Arena.

“China was an exceptionally good team they had an exceptional goaltender – we had never been shutout before – but it was great opportunity to see how our girls would respond,” Williams said.

Although it was Okotoks’ first loss of the year, Oilers defenceman Jordynne Hojnocki, a St. Francis of Assisi Academy student, had a smile as wide as the Yangtze River after the game.

“At the beginning of the game we were all running out to meet them and we were excited to learn Chinese words,” said Hojnocki, who promptly said ‘hello’ in Chinese. “When we started playing, we didn’t know what to expect. We got on the ice and it was like: ‘Whoa, that surprised us.’

“It was exciting.”

It was also exciting for the visiting Chinese squad, according to coach Hong Dang.

“Canada is a nice hockey area and it is a good place to study,” she said.

Oiler centre Gracie Page said the team wanted to win, but there was more to this game.

“I never thought I would play against China — it was exhilarating,” the Okotoks Junior High School student said. “It was intense.”

The two teams visited after the game, both squads proudly displaying their respective flags.

The Oilers gave the team some traditional Canadian maple candy, some Oilers stickers and received some pins from their new friends in China.

The Oilers have won some top-notched tournaments, – including their own elite tourney earlier this month — before facing Harbin, but the loss against an international team may be the one that will help them the most.

“Now we are like a real team, we have won and we have lost,” Hojnocki said.

They have also gelled off the ice as well.

The team raised $3,280 in a bottle drive for In Support of ‘Zach and the Kids’ a fundraiser for the family of Tara Roe.

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