Ailyn Stachniak and Calgary Fire White teammates looking forward to Alberta Winter Games

RED DEER – Everyone loves an underdog story.  

Calgary Fire White currently sit in fourth place of the Alberta Female Hockey League’s U13 AA South Division behind Calgary Fire Red and Calgary Fire Black. 

But it’s Fire White that is headed off to Grande Prairie to represent Zone 3 at the Alberta Winter Games.  

This year’s team selection process differed from previous years, as teams in the AFHL’s newest division vied for the right to represent their zone. For Calgary’s three teams, they faced off in a round-robin followed by a final between the two highest-ranked teams in the round-robin. Fire White defeated Fire Red 5-3 and lost 3-1 to Calgary Fire Black in round-robin, before finding redemption with a 1-0 victory over Fire Black to secure their spot in the Games.  

Forward Ailyn Stachniak said it was a great feeling to know that her team overcame the odds and qualified for the upcoming tournament. 

“I think our team was super pumped. As the clock was counting down, I think my heart was pounding,” she said. “It was a super stressful moment but as soon as the clock was a second away from zero, I knew we had won, and we were going to represent our zone. It’s an honour and will be a good opportunity.” 

Stachniak has had a strong season thus far, putting up 14 points (matching her jersey number) in 21 games, for fourth on the team. The up and coming forward said she’s having fun with her teammates and the team has gotten better as the season’s progressed.  

“We’ve been able to beat some of the tougher teams throughout the season as we’ve been getting better as a team,” Stachniak said. “I really enjoy my teammates and it’s nice playing with them. They’re super helpful, our captains motivate us to get through hard games. Everyone is really kind and respectful and we’ve made a lot of memories through the highs and lows.” 

The highs and lows of this season have helped Stachniak and her Fire White teammates to be prepared for the competition at the Alberta Winter Games.  

“It’s a super exciting and a huge honour to be able to go and play against those teams,” Stachniak said. “We’re familiar with some of the teams we’ll be playing, but there are also some that we haven’t played before. So I think it will be nice to get to see other teams and see how they play.”  

If Zone 3 can come away from the tournament with a medal, Stachniak said it would be a very rewarding experience.  

“It would be very exciting for us to get to have that opportunity and such an honour to be able to win a medal,” she said. “It’ll take a lot of hard work from us to be able to do that, but it would be really exciting.”  

Calgary Fire White are in Pool A with Southern Express (Zone 1), St. Alberta Raiders Bolts (Zone 5) and Lloydminster Western Financial Steelers (Zone 7). Pool B includes Rocky Mountain Raiders (Zone 2), Central Alberta Twins (Zone 4), Edmonton Ice Blue (Zone 6) and Norlan Ram PCFAC Storm (Zone 8). 

Female hockey action gets underway on Saturday with round-robin action continuing through until Sunday afternoon. Semi-finals are Sunday evening, with bronze and gold medal games on Monday morning. Games are being played at the Dave Barr Arena and County Sportsplex.