Three local girls, all members of the Junior Belfast Giants Ice Hockey Club, represented the Scotland Under 16 Girls at the British Women’s Friendship Tournament held in Swindon held during the last weekend in June 2015. Aisling Rafter, Jindara Scott and Kaitlyn Morrison certainly left their mark in Swindon during the 17th annual conference tournament and put Belfast firmly on the ice hockey map.
They faced stiff opposition during the tournament against under 16 teams drawn from the English League – Swindon, Sheffield and Bracknell. On the first day of the conference the girls played 4 games with one win and one draw notched up on the score sheets. Despite the apprehension of never having played together in this tournament, the girls enjoyed the experience and had a fantastic day.
The Scotland team started off tied in 2nd place on day two. In their first game they drew 0-0 against Sheffield with Team Scotland’s number 10 – Jindara Scott working hard on the ice and giving an exceptional performance during the game. Host team, Swindon were the opposing team in the second game. Scotland left the rink with a victorious 1 -0 win, the goal having been scored by Belfast’s own Aisling Rafter. Bracknell, the league and playoff champions, were facing off against Scotland in the 3rd game on day two but they were unable to take this game. The game resulted in another draw resulting in one goal to each team with the Scottish goal being scored by local girl Kaitlyn Morrison. A draw of 0 – 0 in the 4th game against Swindon gave the Scotland team the much needed point to take their place in the tournament final. A fifth game was played and the girls were on fire, winning 3 -1 against Sheffield.
The Scotland team had plenty of time to prepare for the tournament final against Bracknell, as they faced a three hour delay due to injury time in one of the senior games. The final was a nail biting experience and it looked as if the two teams were well matched and the game would end in a draw. Unfortunately Bracknell took the game in the last 30 seconds of the game to win 1 – 0.
Northern Ireland can be rightly proud of the three local girls who represented the Junior Belfast Giants club and played fantastic hockey – with an ethos of working hard and never giving up. The efforts of one local player, Kaitlyn Morrison, did not go unnoticed and she was awarded the Most Valuable Player of the tournament award for Team Scotland. Well done Aisling, Jindara and Kaitlyn!