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Ravens retain fond memories amid cancellation

By Don Fennell

Published 2:38 PDT, Tue March 17, 2020

Last Updated: 2:42 PDT, Tue March 17, 2020

Ashley Specht sported a huge smile while offering a thumbs up gesture after the Richmond Ravens won another playoff banner March 6.

Specht scored the insurance goal, following Sydney Payment’s earlier game winner, as the Ravens posted a 2-0 victory.

“Each of us has done something, no matter how small, to contribute to our success,” offered Specht, prior to learning late last week that the 2020 BC Hockey Midget A Female championships—where she and her teammates hoped to cap their stellar season with yet another title—had been cancelled due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

After suiting up for her first game at the age of five, Specht has been essentially a lifelong Raven, having spent all of her youth hockey career with the organization. Her earliest memories are hitting the ice at UBC as a Tyke Division player.

“My dad said, I want you to go skate a couple of laps before the game, and then join the game,” she recalled. “But I just kept doing laps around the rink as the game was going on.”

That memory was followed by winning the shootout competition as a Novice at a North Shore Winter Club tournament, and earning provincial championships in both Peewee and Midget.

Specht appreciates the journey she was able to share with teammates.

“We travelled to many different places, and made unbelievable friendships that will last a lifetime,” she said.

Teammate Emma Tait didn’t start playing hockey with the Ravens until she was 15; her first year of female hockey. It was the first time she was on an all-girls team.

“I walked into the dressing room nervous and unsure of what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised as they treated me as one of their own,” she said.

Though this was only her second season, Tait repeated Specht’s refrain about making friendships that will last a lifetime.

Winning the triple crown (league, playoff and provincial titles) last season will also remain atop her list of memories.

But she said perhaps the biggest highlight occurred during a tournament the team attended last December in Pittsburgh.

“We met a special little girl, Lincoln Rose, who has autism,” explained Tait. “Her smile lights up a room. After she attended one of our games and became our biggest fan. Her impact on me as a person was huge. It made me realize why we play hockey—to share our passion for the game with others.”

Anna May was six when started playing hockey with the Ravens. The idea of playing hadn’t even crossed her mind until she learned her cousin played.

“I wanted to be just like her,” she said.

Today, May is able to reflect on many highlights and memories. A favourite occurred during her second year of Bantam.

“We had a tough season and were playing in playoffs—but by default, with no hope of going to provincials,” she explained. “Since we were in last place, we played the first-place team. Despite the odds, we were able to sweep. When the buzzer went after an intense second game, I had never been happier and my teammates and I were so excited to be going back to provincials.”

Reflective of the intrinsic values of sport, among May’s earliest memories of being a Raven are of participating in skill practices every Sunday morning with coach Milan Dragicevic.

“That’s when I really got to know the other girls, and started to make friends,” she said.

With only a single loss this season, the Ravens enjoyed a successful season—one that May attributes to the closeness of the players, and their support of each other.

“As a first-year player I was nervous about meeting the other girls, but we have all come together to create a family. And the coaches and trainers have been amazing and supported us with our individual goals as well as our team goal; to win the provincials.”

When an injury sidelined May for six weeks just prior to playoffs, it was hard for her. But during her recovery, assistant coaches Rachel and Natasha helped make the path back easier.

May is now looking forward to a spring and summer of training and attending the U18 BC exposure camp.

“Team BC is a dream, and by going to the camp I am able to expose myself to new opportunities,” she says.

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