FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Northern Capitals U18 AAA female hockey team has six players on its 2021-2022 roster from the Northeast BC Predators.

Keagan Goulet, Hailey Armstrong, Maria Ayre, Kasey Ditner, Sierra Eagles and Staysha Hiebert will carry the proud Predators tradition to Prince George.

The Capitals announced their roster on Monday, and they’ve already left on their first road trip of the season to Calgary.

Head coach Mario Desjardins — a fan of early-season bus trips himself — says this is a great way for the players to get to know each other, share some laughs, and get valuable exposure to scouts.

“A road trip at the beginning of the season is always good. Being from Prince George, our chances of hitting the road right off the hop is pretty good, so we’re either playing league games right away, or we’re playing in the Calgary Fire Starter,” said Desjardins. “It’s a great showcase with a lot of scouts coming in from all over the place.”

Desjardins has a rule for bus trips that may not go down easy for high school athletes. The phones stay at the front of the bus.

“I’m one of those coaches that take the cell phones away on the way down to a road trip. They have that time to either do homework or get to know each other, especially early in the season.”

In more than 9 years coaching the Northern Capitals, Desjardins says the group of athletes that came to tryout camp were some of the best conditioned he’s seen, and he’s excited about the upcoming season.

“We have a deep lineup. We’ve got girls that have returned and then we’ve added some younger players into our lineup because we’re going to lose quite a few next year. I know they’re all excited about this first tournament, and I really don’t know what to expect until we get on the ice and get that first 20 minutes under the belt.”

All Capitals players have to move to Prince George to live with billet families, something Desjardins says is a big step.

“The kids do have to move to town, and that’s a big commitment. Some of these kids are moving away at 15 years old. I just don’t know if my parents would have let me leave at that age,” he joked, before admitting he left home at 16 to play junior hockey in Seattle.

The Northern Capitals will face the Battlefords Sharks on Thursday morning to open the Calgary Firestarter tournament.