When Shayna Moore volunteered to be her team’s goaltender as a first-year novice player in Thompson, she couldn’t have imagined where the decision would lead her.
“No one wanted to be goalie,” Moore, 18, a Pimicikamak Cree Nation member, recalls. “We were all supposed to take turns but no one wanted to so one day I just volunteered and played every single game. I loved it.”
More than a decade later, that decision has taken her to Winnipeg and Boston and to a couple appearances at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC), including a gold medal.
It was tough at times as a younger player, being the only girl on boys’ teams, and Moore said there were times when she thought about quitting.
“I think I was the only girl in my age group in Thompson that played hockey,” Moore says. “Being the only girl on the teams was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t want to do this again every year.’ It was mostly when I was younger, like maybe peewee age.”
When the Norman Wild of the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League were established, Moore got the chance to show her skills around the province on an all-female team.
“I didn’t know there was a female league until maybe a week before tryouts,” she said.
That exposure led to a recruiter for the Boston Shamrock of the Junior Women’s Hockey League (JWHL) landing her a spot on the team in Massachusetts, along with a few other Northern Manitobans – Saige McKay, Carrigan Umpherville and Julie Albert.
“During Norman Wild I played with Saige and Carrigan and Julie,” Moore says. “Knowing they were also going out there made it a whole lot easier.”
That said, it was a big switch from what she was used to.
“It was very different. Thompson’s pretty small and then going to a city that size but I think it was a good learning opportunity and I enjoyed my time there.”
Moore had offers to play university hockey in the U.S. but instead chose to return to her home province, completing her high school education last year at Balmoral Hall in Winnipeg , which also has team that competes in the JWHL
Moore was named to the league’s all-star team and as its top goaltender.
This year, having started attending the University of Manitoba with hopes of eventually going into some type of medical field, Moore was planning to not play hockey and to focus on school instead, at least until Dale Bear, who had coached her at the NAHC, asked if she would be interested in playing in the Manitoba Women’s Junior Hockey League. Moore said she would.
“Lucky enough during the draft he picked me,” she said.
Moore’s first season with the Prairie Blaze of the MWJHL has seen her named to one of the league’s all-star teams.
“I thought that I was having a pretty good start to the season and stuff but there’s so many other goalies in this league that have been around for so many years and know what it’s actually like and what the league is like so I was pretty surprised [to be picked for the all-star game],” she says.
Playing MWJHL games, which take place on Thursday, Satrudays and Sundays, while also starting university has been a challenge, Moore says.
“It’s very tough to juggle things like time management and stuff but I think it’s going pretty well,” she says.
Her two years of experience in the JWHL made her transition to the MWJHL pretty smooth.
“I feel like I was pretty used to it when I started having the opportunity to play with Boston and BH [Balmoral Hall] because that was also a junior women’s hockey league that spanned across North America so there was lots of competition,” Moore says.
Another experience she couldn’t have predicted was being on a team featured in season seven of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network reality series Hit the Ice.
“I’m such a shy person and then cameras were rolling all the time,” Moore recalls. “After a couple of days I got used to it. The first couple of days I tried to be behind, like in the back of the group or whatever. It was a great opportunity. I thought it was pretty cool. It aired on APTN so lots of people were watching.”
MWJHL playoffs begin later this month.