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Unique experience for Ridgebacks’ goaltender

Briar Hughes, goalie for the UOIT women’s hockey club, shows off a silver medal she won as part of Team Canada at the World Ball Hockey Championships held in Czech Republic earlier this month. (Twitter photo)

A member of the UOIT Ridgeback’s women’s hockey team took part in a historic Canada Day long weekend.

Briar Hughes, a native of Thornton, Ont., southwest of Barrie, was selected to represent Canada at the World Ball Hockey Championships in the Czech Republic.

The championship ran from June 28 to July 1 and was the first international youth girl’s tournament of its kind.

“I got to make a lot of great memories with both old and new friends, and we all got to share an incredible bond representing Team Canada,” Hughes says. “I am more than fortunate for the experience I had, receiving a silver medal and getting to explore the culture of the Czech Republic.”

The team was forced to learn on the fly with only a handful of practices under their belt beforehand.

They also didn’t have much knowledge of the teams they were facing.

“Not knowing what to expect from other teams, we had to adjust quickly, especially against the Czech Republic,” she adds.

The host team proved to be a thorn in Canada’s side, handing them their only two losses, including a 4-1 defeat in the gold medal game.

The championships meant some individual challenges for Hughes as well.

Normally a goaltender, she was on defense for the first time in her life and performed admirably.

She was awarded player of the game honours in Team Canada’s first round 6-0 win over Great Britain.

Despite falling short of a gold medal, Hughes is proud of the experience.

“Opportunities like this are rarely given, and I knew it was right for me to take. I am grateful to have the opportunity to travel, and compete in Europe while representing Canada.”

After the tournament, Hughes spent some time exploring the Czech Republic and other European countries.

She will return to the Ridgebacks this fall. Last year, she posted a 5-4-0 record, with a .899 save percentage and 3.22 goals against average.