Bay Arena minor hockey has a history of producing top-notch female hockey players.
From Ashlee Drover and Morgan Hanrahan to Peggy Wakeham, the Rovers female program has sent players to the collegiate ranks. Drover and Hanrahan both played at Brown University, while Wakeham displayed her skills for the University of Vermont.
Presently, Natalie Keeping is on the verge of turning a successful minor hockey career into a possible Atlantic University Sport showing.
But, the next name on that list could be the best of the bunch.
Meet Shailynn Snow.
She is a 12-year-old dynamo from Clarke’s Beach and to those in the know, she needs no introduction.
When not dominating the under-12 girls division, Snow is doing the same in male hockey.
Just last year, she tallied more than a dozen goals in four games during a provincial girls’ tournament. More recently, she notched 13 goals in the peewee AAA provincial tournament last month in St. John’s. Snow is the only female player at that level.
When the Tri Pen peewee AAA team touches down in Fredericton, N.B., later today (March 25) there is a good possibility Snow will again be the only female player in the male-dominated tournament.
But, that’s nothing new for Snow.
“I like playing with (the boys),” Snow told The Compass in a recent interview.
She is the daughter of Connie Mugford and the granddaughter of Ernie Mugford.
Future goals and decisions
The future is bright for Snow. At the tender age of 12, Snow already has eight to 10 offers schools on the table from schools all over the country.
“There are a lot of educational opportunities available,” noted Ernie.
Those schools are not the only ones interested in her exceptional skills. Ontario female teams have shown interest in bringing her along.
“She gave up two 10-day trips to Europe with two different teams,” said Ernie.
Snow also has trips planned to Montreal and New Hampshire with the Atlantic Female Training Institute.
There are also plans for her to try out for the under-18 Canada Winter Games provincial team. Remember, she's only 12.
When asked what her ultimate goal is, Snow was quick to provide an answer.
“I want to go the Olympics,” she said.
But, she’s not just playing with the boys. Snow is dominating boys’ hockey. In a provincial peewee league last season, Snow found herself in the top-5 in league scoring amongst some of the finest talent at that age group.
“There are no holes in her game,” said longtime coach Nelson Bennett.
That’s a lofty statement to make for a young player, but watching her play, it’s not hard to see it’s factual.
Snow is just as adept at making a saucer pass over a set of sticks as she is at producing a highlight reel goal. She effortlessly moves from defense to forward, and is effective at both.
“She is even an above-average goaltender,” said Bennett.
This happens with an impressive blend of otherworldly skill, natural ability and a work ethic that borders on feverish. In the summer, Snow stars on the soccer pitch with her club team, the CBN Lightning and the provincial under-12 team.
Snow is on the ice upwards to three hours-a-day, Monday to Sunday. She follows that up with four to five hours-a-week of off-ice training.
“That’s what separates her from all the rest,” said Bennett, speaking of her work ethic. “That’s why in years to come we’re going to be saying, ‘look at her now. We used to coach her, we played with her.’"
“I love the game,” Snow noted. said.
But, like any phenom there comes a time when they must evolve or risk falling in with the rest of the pack. Last spring, Snow did just that. Dedicating herself to off-ice training, Snow has begun to reach new heights in her game.
“She decided last spring, she wanted to get bigger, stronger, faster and she hasn’t looked back since,” said Bennett. “I can’t take anything away from the past, but in the last calendar year she is not only as good as boys her age, she is every bit as strong or stronger.
“When you get into the battle areas, there are very few boys who can muscle her off the puck.”
Snow has a standing offer for spring training from Allan Andrews of the Andrews Hockey Growth Program based out of Charlottetown, P.E.I.
It is a program that lists National Hockey League players Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and Brad Richards as program graduates.
“It’s high praise when it’s coming from Allan Andrews,” said Bennett.
Snow has a long history with the game. She started skating when she was two years old when her grandfather would take her to parent/tot skating at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts.
“Shailynn immediately took to hockey,” said Connie.
It was in the championship game of the Novice Select tournament when she really started turning heads.
She scored the only two goals for her team, leading them to a title.
“(Shailynn) has always been like that,” said Bennett.
Her hockey career means a lot of long days behind the wheel for Connie and Ernie, but they don’t mind.
“I’d do anything to help her,” said Connie.
“They’ve been very supportive,” added Snow.
Whatever path her hockey career takes her on, there is one thing that drives her to be the best she can be.
“I love the game,” said Snow.
Even with high praise coming from the biggest hockey names in Atlantic Canada, the best might come from her coach of the last seven years.
“I honestly believe she is the next one,” said Bennett.
About Shailynn Snow
• Age – 12;
• Hometown – Clarke’s Beach;
• Family – mother is Connie Mugford and grandfather is Ernie Mugford; has no siblings;
• School and grade – Grade 7 at Amalgamated Academy in Bay Roberts;
• Nicknames – Blue ice, Snowy, Snowmobile and Snowstorm;
• Favourite players – Hayley Wickenheise (female) and Tomas Plekanec (male);
• Favourite team – Montreal Canadiens;
• Favourite pre-game ritual – Drinks an Ensure protein drink;
• Personal accomplishment – Making the peewee AAA Tri Pen Ice.