Bringing significant star power to the second annual Chief Thunderstick women’s ice hockey tournament, Victoria Bach holds standing as both, fan favorite and admired pioneer. Garbed in the paraphernalia of SageStrong, Bach was the heartbeat of the offense, her sensational skill set essential in capturing the championship, adding another exceptional achievement to a great career.
Heading into the tournament, highlighted by a significant increase in the number of women’s teams, Bach enjoyed a tremendous feeling of momentum. Earlier in the year, an already brilliant accumulation of on-ice magic allowed the highly skilled forward the prestige of induction into the North American Indigenous Athletes Hall of Fame (NAIHAF).
Solidifying a proud, and still growing, legacy, entry into the Hall enhanced the significance of the Chief Thunderstick championship win. With a lineage among the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, the melange of hockey and heritage provided for an unforgettable experience.
“Being inducted into the NAIHAF earlier this year alongside remarkable Indigenous athletes was a tremendous honor. Representing the Indigenous community and competing against the world’s best Indigenous female hockey players made the tournament incredibly special.
With 16 teams participating on the women’s side, the abundance of talent showcased how much our game is growing and continuing to flourish.”
Marking the second consecutive year that SageStrong and the Cross Lake Lady Islanders reached the Finals at Chief Thunderstick, all players enjoyed the opportunity to experience a shared milestone. With the championship game broadcast on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), the national television exposure ensures a bright future ahead for the event’s growth and awareness.
Also providing a major league feeling, the viewers were enthralled by an exceptional display of elite hockey talent. Bulging the twine more than once, Bach proved essential in SageStrong going back-to-back. Establishing the foundation for a dynasty in the making, the greater reward encompasses the value of visibility.
“The televised broadcast of the championships by APTN was truly remarkable. Visibility is so important and it is incredible to see all the young girls and boys watching us from home and also in the stands. It is vital for them to see female role models achieving success. I firmly believe that if they can see it, they can dream it.”
With aspirations to become an educator in her post-playing career, Bach’s impact as a role model involved an important accessibility between games. Joined by SageStrong teammates Brigette Lacquette, Jocelyne Larocque plus Abby Roque, along with Kendra Jessie and Sydney Daniels, a speaking engagement at Saskatoon’s Buffalo Youth Lodge enhanced the feeling of unity that encompassed the tournament.
Geared towards improving the quality of life for children, youth and young adults, offering a multitude of services, sport is also an essential function of the Lodge. With afternoons and evenings providing a recreational facility where fun and safety are its cornerstones, the inspiring presence of hockey luminaries such as Bach and her teammates demonstrated to the youth on-hand the potential to pursue one’s dreams.
Along with admirable efforts in support of the Orange Jersey Project, Bach travelled across the country to the Indigenous Girls Hockey Jamboree in Charlottetown, PEI. Held in early June through the Genevieve Francis Memorial Fund, an initiative of the Ulnooweg Indigenous Communities Foundation, providing sport and recreation opportunity for Indigenous youth in Atlantic Canada, the opportunity to meet new people and share in their hockey dreams has proven just as exhilarating and thrilling as the jubilation of winning a championship.
Fittingly, one of Bach’s new teammates on SageStrong brings her own unique connection to Atlantic Canadian sport. Having enjoyed an Atlantic University Sport title with the University of New Brunswick Reds, Jana Headrick, raised in Garden River First Nation, won the 2022 Marion Hillard Award in recognition of her weekend hockey camps for Indigenous girls in the Fredericton area.
As the Chief Thunderstick tournament enjoys a place in Canada’s sporting footprint, simultaneously establishing a new era for Indigenous athletic history, the opportunity to participate in the first two women’s tournaments marks a seminal moment for Bach. Whether it is in the jersey of SageStrong, Team Canada, the PWHPA, or the Boston University Terriers, she always brings a tremendous consistency and highly admirable respect for the game. Tremendously gracious, her positive example represents more than standing as a role model for young players of all backgrounds. Equally reciprocal, she finds inspiration in their aspirations of dreams.
“Participating in a panel at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge was a great experience. Getting the opportunity to speak and connect with the youth and elders was a memorable experience. The event was filled with fantastic questions, and it served as a wonderful platform.
Another memory that stood out to me was getting the chance to meet new teammates and play alongside new linemates. Meeting new people and witnessing their athletic success is always an amazing opportunity.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated“