Small school, big heart

Pic­tou Academy girls open high school hockey sea­son with back-to-back shutout vic­to­ries

The News (New Glasgow) - - FRONT PAGE - BY KEVIN ADSHADE

The jer­seys are clas­sic in their sim­plic­ity: no fancy let­ter­ing or teeth-bear­ing dog logo, just the red and white school colours of Pic­tou Academy.

And while they may rep­re­sent that tiny school over in the Shire­town, these Pit­bulls have some bite with their bark.

“We’re for­tu­nate, we have a lot of Selects girls who live in Pic­tou,” and the sur­round­ing area, said Jim Sloan, head coach of the girls hockey team at PA and a teacher at the 200-year-old in­sti­tu­tion.

“There’s only so many small schools,” with fe­male hockey teams.

The Pit­bulls started their sea­son on Mon­day with two shutouts in as many games: they de­feated the East Hants Tigers 9-0 and fol­lowed that with a 7-0 win over North Colch­ester. In ad­di­tion to those small schools, the Pit­bulls have a cou­ple of games sched­uled against the NRHS Nighthawks later this month and will likely play some games against NNEC, al­though noth­ing has been fi­nal­ized yet.

THE IN­TER­NA­TIONAL GAME

Marie Arai is an ex­change stu­dent from Tokyo, Ja­pan. She had played two years of hockey in her na­tive coun­try, but last sea­son, she spent the school year in Mis­souri. When it came time to se­lect a new coun­try to ex­pe­ri­ence, she chose hockey-ob­sessed Canada.

“I was in the U.S., but I couldn’t play hockey be­cause there was no ice rink. This year, I wanted to

play hockey in Canada.”

Arai could only play one sport (lacrosse) at her high school in Tokyo, but not only is she play­ing hockey at PA, she ran cross-coun­try, won a bronze medal at soc­cer provin­cials and also tried out for the Pit­bulls bas­ket­ball team (she doesn’t yet know if she made the team).

“I like to play a lot of sports,” Arai says, adding that her team­mates have been sup­port­ive of her.

“I like them, they are re­ally en­cour­ag­ing

me.”

The 16-year-old Aria is, ac­cord­ing to goal­tender Leigha MacDon­ald, “just about the sweet­est per­son you’d ever want to meet – al­ways smil­ing. Every­one on the team just thinks she’s great.”

LAST GO ’ROUND MacDon­ald, who is also the goal­tender with the Midget AA Sub­way Selects – Sloan coaches that team, too – would have spent her Grade 11 year play­ing hockey at PA, but the Nova

Sco­tia Teach­ers Union and its work-to-rule pol­icy quashed that idea last win­ter (Pic­tou Academy was sup­posed to have hosted the Di­vi­sion 2 provin­cials un­til the labour strife, al­though the school ex­pects to host this sea­son’s provin­cials).

“It’s awe­some, MacDon­ald said of play­ing with the Pit­bulls in her fi­nal year of high school.

“It’s quite a re­lief af­ter last year and it’s a lot of fun to play with your friends. Everybody re­ally has the ded­i­ca­tion to play.”

SUEANN MU­SICK/THE NEWS

The girls hockey team at Pic­tou Academy. In front from left are: Thea Waller, Carly Smith, Bian­cia Bour­geois, Cassie Clarke and MacKen­zie Ells. In back from left are: coach Jim Sloan, Marie Arai, Kari Waller, Leigha MacDon­ald, Hay­ley Ni­chol, Jenny Fer­rera and Abby Mun­roe. In back from left are: Emma MacKeil, Char­lotte Mu­sick and Jenna Reid. Miss­ing from photo is Megan MacCarthy.

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