by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
Making headlines, be it as a player or future sports journalist, Jaydlin Spooner loves hockey.
The native of Campbell River, British Columbia, now in her rookie season with the Olds College Broncos women's hockey team, started playing the sport at a young age.
"I was around five years-of-age," recalls Spooner, now 18. "My older brother Jesse is the one who taught me how to skate and he was one of my biggest fans. I wanted to do everything he did. He was my mentor and I just wanted to be like him."
Just like her older brother, Jaydlin would suit up for the same Campbell River Storm in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) only two years after he had played.
Jesse, a defenceman, would go on to play in the British Columbia Hockey League with the Victoria Grizzlies (2011-2012) and Alberni Valley Bulldogs (2012-2013),
Playing in the women's B.C. Female Midget AAA for the Vancouver Island Seals, Jaydlin, a goalie since the age of 10, was called up to the Storm after they had lost their starting stopper.
Spooner, then only 16, sat the bench for the first two games.
Against the Comox Valley Glacier Kings on February 6, 2016, with Storm goalie Riley Welyk sent to the hospital for stitches after an early second period hit, Spooner placed on her goalie mask and stepped out on to the ice.
She played the remaining 38 minutes, stopping 11 shots while allowing two goals in a 6-3 victory.
Selected First Star of the game, she also received the games "Golden Shovel" awarded to the top Storm star.
"It is one of my greatest memories in hockey," recalls Spooner, of playing in the Junior B league with her male counterparts. "As soon as the coach looked at me to go in, I couldn't believe it. It was the most scared that I have ever been in my life.
"But the boys helped settle me real fast. If I remember, the first shot was a snap shot from the top of the circle, blocker side. It was a home game and everyone was cheering so loud. It was crazy and so surreal.
"After the game and on the ride home, my phone was blowing up like crazy with all of the tweets and Facebook posts and everyone giving me high fives."
Lee Stone, Storm General Manager and head coach, said in an interview following the game, "It's pretty special, I get to help with that Seals team, see how hard she works and see how successful she is at that level. For her to get the opportunity, come in and not just play but make some big, big, saves in the second period is incredible."
Spooner, had played on boys hockey teams until she was 13 years-of-age, switching over to PeeWee and then Midget girls.
"Playing on the boys teams in those early years definitely taught me how to be tough," recalls Spooner, who at Campbell River Christian School was a multi-sport athlete playing baseball, basketball, soccer and volleyball. "Playing with the boys there is no margin for weakness. You are the only girl out there and everyone wants to pick on the girl. It made me mentally tough and it prepared me for higher levels of hockey."
Higher levels of hockey as in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).
"One of my good friends (Brittney Savard, 2nd year forward with the NAIT Ooks from Port Alberni, British Columbia and a former teammate on the Seals) was playing at NAIT and she told me that it is a high-level caliber of hockey and getting better every year. It was also good for development if you wanted to move up to (U Sports)."
"U Sports Is one of my goals," said Spooner. "I would like to go on to U Sports and study English and journalism.
"It is one of my dreams to get into sports journalism, writing for magazines. Just to start up conversations that people would have and to give my opinion in a certain subject."
Of her own opinion, in regards to her first-year in ACAC hockey, where the 5-foot-7 goalie has had 17 starts with five wins and a 2.78 goals against average and .912 save percentage, she said: "It's been great. The girls on the team are super awesome. Even as a first-year rookie there is no conflict with the girls and they make you feel at home."
Spooner also credits her longtime coach Dennis Bellavance of the Campbell River Minor Hockey Association, to playing an integral role in her hockey development: "Even when I wasn't very good at the start, when I was playing goalie, he kept me going. He is one of the best people I know and has been one of the biggest influences in my life."