When head coach Karen Kos told her team the good news, the screams were electrifying.
In early November, Kos found out that the girls she had been working with for six years would get to play at the 2024 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament.
On Feb. 6, the North Shore Winter Club’s Tier 1 U13 team will fly across the country, becoming B.C.’s first all-girls team to play at the event, which is considered to be the unofficial world championship for under-13 pee-wee hockey.
Receiving the news, the Winterhawks’s celebration was both deafening and beautiful at the same time, Kos said.
“Because this has been a dream for myself and these girls,” she said. “For four years, this has been what we’ve been working towards, hoping that things would come together.”
The tournament’s 64th year will host a female division for the second time, after the all-girls competition debuted in 2023.
“We couldn’t be more proud to be a part of that,” Kos said. “We really paved the way for future teams from B.C. to have the same experience.”
In Quebec, the Winterhawks will play among 120 teams in total, from 18 countries including Canada, the U.S., France, England and Switzerland.
Reflecting back on a childhood where she was told she couldn’t play hockey because she was a girl, Kos has been a staunch advocate for women in hockey throughout her adult life.
What began as girls running around the Winter Club as their older brothers played on the ice, has become Kos’s team of role models for the next rounds of young female hockey players.
“It’s so exciting to know how far this has progressed in such a short amount of time,” she said. “Now to see that there’s a professional league that the girls can watch on TV and have a dream to continue to play hockey at a high level, which says so much about how we’re moving in the right direction in terms of girls and hockey.”
Connor Bedard lesson up for grabs at auction fundraiser
To help pay for the pricey trip to Quebec, the Winterhawks are throwing a send-off party on Saturday (Jan. 27) with some enticing auction items up for grabs. Among them is a private lesson with NHL star and Winter Club alum Connor Bedard. That and other silent auction items can be bid on online.
In Quebec, the Winterhawks will play their first exhibition games Feb. 7 and 8 against Quebec and top-contender Little Caesars from the United States. Regular tournament games run Feb. 9 to 18.