DURHAM COLLEGE AND UOIT ATHLETICS
OSHAWA, Ont. – For Thornton native Briar Hughes, goaltender for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks women’s hockey team, her Canada Day long weekend was spent a little differently than most.
Hughes was chosen to represent Team Canada at the ISBHF (International Street & Ball Hockey Federation) World Ball Hockey Championship.
The five-day event, lasting from June 28 until July 1, was the first ever international youth girls tournament of its kind in the history of the sport.
The championship was held in the Czech Republic, giving Hughes and her teammates the experience of a lifetime.
“I got to make a lot of great memories with both old and new friends and we all got to share an incredible bond representing Team Canada,” said Hughes. “I am more than fortunate for the experience I had, receiving a silver medal and getting to explore the culture in the Czech Republic.”
Prior to entering the tournament, the girls on Team Canada did not have much playing experience together. With only a handful of practices under their belt they knew they would have to come together quickly if they wanted to do well.
Coupled with their speed and ability to move the ball quickly, the girls were able to do just that, getting through the preliminary round with a 3-1-0 record.
The only loss they had in the preliminary round was against the host Czech Republic, who also handed them their 4-1 loss in the gold medal game.
With the event being the first of its kind for this age group it was hard for Canada to know what to expect of the teams they would be up against.
“Not knowing what to expect from other teams, we had to adjust quickly, especially against the Czech Republic,” said Hughes. “The Czechs were very skilled and strong.
"We had to learn to play defensively. Speed was no longer our strong suit.”
Hughes, who is normally in goal for the Ridgebacks, was asked to play defence for Team Canada, something she says she has never done before.
Despite the lack of experience in the position, Hughes gave it her all and was able to contribute to her team where needed most.
Hughes went on to win player of the game against Great Britain, which was 6-0 shutout victory for the Canadians.
Despite a tough loss in the final, that would send them home with a silver medal, the girls were able to leave their world championship journey with their heads held high knowing they did Canada proud.
“Opportunities like this are rarely given and I knew it was right for me to take and I am grateful to have the opportunity to travel and compete in Europe while representing Canada.”
Canada vs. Slovakia – W 3-0
Canada vs. USA – W 2-0
Canada vs. Great Britain – W 6-0
Canada vs. Czech Republic – L 1-0
Canada vs. Czech Republic – L 4-1