'If you're good enough to play, you're good enough to play': Lethbridge bantam hockey player turns heads in the hockey world
LETHBRIDGE -- The Lethbridge Bantam AAA league consists primarily of a lot of 13 and 14-year-males, in all their infinite hormonal, teenage variety, but one player stands out among them.
Meet shut down defenseman Kendal Davidson, who towers over quite a few of her teenage boy teammates, but doesn't hold that against them.
“I just love playing against guys," said Davidson,the lone female on the team and one of only two in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League. "We have had a really good team. A really good coaching staff so it’s just been a really good experience."
Growing up, Davidson always played on the boys teams, except for tournament teams. She competed in the Alberta Winter Games this past weekend, helping lead her team to gold. For her it was a fun girls’ weekend away. But when she can, she enjoys the long road trips with the boys on the bus too.
“It’s wild, like bus trips are wild. They treat me like just another guy which I love,” said Davidson.
The Lethbridge Val Matteoti Golden Hawks compete in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League, facing off against the top talent in the province. The team is happy to have a girl who can be a competitor on the ice -- and fun to hang out with off it.
"She brings a whole different personality, on the benches, on the buses, on the ice," said forward John Szabo.
"She's one of, in our opinion, the premier defenders in the league and she has done a really great job buying into that role,” added Brendan Harper, head coach of the Golden Hawks.
For a female player who enjoys competing against males as much as she does, Davidson's role model isn’t Sydney Crosby or fellow defensive player Mark Giordano. It isn't even a guy.
It’s a trailblazer for ever female hockey player.
“I have always looked up to Shannon Szabados," Davidson said. "She has been the only women to play in the WHL."
Szabados strapped on the pads in a few games for the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League. Splitting time in a game, with future NHL All-Star and current Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price. Szabados later went on play for the Team Canada female squad in the Olympics.
The WHL’s bantam draft is right around the corner and Davidson says she has spoken with a few scouts about her chances.
“There has always been people telling me that I can’t play in the WHL because I’m a girl," she said, "and ever since then I have wanted to do that. That has been my life-long goal.”
Koletrane Wilson, who has played four season for the Lethbridge Hurricanes and is doing what he can to help the team make a push a for a Central Division title, doesn't have a problem with females wanting to play in the league.
“I don’t think I would mind," Wilson said. " If you’re good enough to play, you‘re good enough to play in league. If she is better than the guys trying out, then so be it.”
Davidson is consider to be a shutdown defenseman by her coach while also contributing 10 assist through 29 games.