VICTORIA – Every winter the University of Victoria Vikes women’s field hockey team swaps their turf boots and outdoor sticks for court shoes and indoor sticks and this year is no different as the Vikes are set to host the annual indoor tournament this weekend, Jan. 20-21. The McKinnon Gym floors will be reset with field hockey goals and boards that line the sidelines of the six-on-six court set-up and will entertain eight competitive teams.

“I’m excited to have eight teams at this event this year and it’s also the first time in a few years that we are splitting our group into two teams,” said Vikes head coach Lynne Beecroft, whose Vikes teams have won the last four titles. “Having two teams will give our players lots of playing time, more opportunities to improve their skills and hopefully they can use this to be better next year for outdoor. That’s always our main goal.”

The indoor hockey tournament will feature two Vikes teams as well as mainland teams West Vancouver and the UBC Thunderbirds, and typical island contenders the Valley Vixens from Cowichan, Shawnigan Lake School and two Kirby’s Island Wildcats squads.

The UVic Royal team will be lead by Beecroft and features seniors Lindsay Cole and Stefanie Langkammer, as well as Canada West Rookie of the Year Anna Mollenhauer on defence and first-year keeper Robin Fleming in goal.

“This is Robin’s first opportunity to play a lead role in net,” described Beecroft of the first year from Cowichan Secondary. “We will also have strength through Lindsay who reads the game well and will be tough for us in the back field. Anna and Claire (O’Brien) in the back will be good for us and Emily (Wong) has moved up to the mids and will have a lot more to think about in that position. Stef (Langkammer) will definitely hold the fort for the forwards for this group.”

The UVic White team will be lead by Vikes assistant coach Krista Thompson and boasts the team’s lone fifth year Larissa Piva, in goal, as well as fourth year Kristina Walters-Shumka on defence and rookies Hannah Craig, Emma Dame and Ashton Aumen.

“Larissa has had four years of indoor experience so she will be strong in net for UVic White,” added Beecroft. “Kristina will be great to help Hannah working on her small game in indoor and we will be looking at Jenna (Dhillon) and Delaney (Booker) to help lead Ashton and Sophia (Murray) up front.”

“Having the two teams will give everyone a chance to be leaders.”

The Vikes have had the good fortunate of being able to practice on their home court, while it is typical for visiting teams to enter this tournament without any indoor training in the lead up. Regardless, the talent coming to the McKinnon floors this weekend looks to be steep.

The UBC Thunderbirds will entertain a roster that features the incredible skills and speed of 2017 U SPORTS Championship MVP Sarah Keglowitsch, as well as the national team identified Margaret Pham and Thora Rae. Gabby Switzer will anchor the T-Birds in goal.

West Vancouver are bringing a plethora of experienced players including former Toronto Varsity Blues keeper Sam Lyzun, Harvard Crimson standout Georgia McGillivray, Northeastern Huskies defender Kaela Barker, and former Vike and Canada West All-Star Annie Walters-Shumka will also join this contingent.

The Valley Vixens have former UBC Thunderbird anchors Caitlin Evans and Miranda Mann, as well as former Vikes Ali Anderson (Fraser), Chelsea Morton and Sumeet Cheema (Aujla), while long-time national team member Diana Larson (Roemer) will be a lethal penalty corner addition.

The Kirby’s Island Wildcats have two teams – a senior and development side – that will both be competitive. The senior team boasts a heavy Vikes alumni contingent in Kira Starr, Kyla Kirby, Ali Baggott (Lee), Cara Jay, Sandy Zinkowski, Emily Bennett and Kathleen Leahy.

Games are two 25-minute halves and from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, while Sunday’s events start at 8:00 a.m. and culminate with the final at 1:00 p.m. For a full schedule click here.