Season seven of the Canadian youth hockey series “Hit The Ice” premiered on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) on June 12, and it stars one of Inuvik’s most talented and upcoming hockey players.
15-year-old Kyra McDonald was just one of 22 youth female hockey players from across the country who got a chance to star in the show’s first all-female season.
“It’s the very first girls season and it was so cool to be part of that. My brother was on the past season, and he used to come home and tell me all these cool stories and stuff they did,” said McDonald. “I’d be so jealous. I wanted to do it.”
She added that she’s done interviews in the past, but to have a role in a TV series was something that was completely new to her.
“We had our first practice and everything, and it was so awkward because while you’re getting ready and minding your business, they have cameras in your face,” she said.
This season was filmed in July 2018, and it revolves around over 30 Indigenous female hockey players between the ages of 14 and 17 who travel to Powassan, Ont. to participate in a two-week-long training camp.
“The first few days were the tryouts, and after finding out who made the team, we did a bunch of team bonding activities,” she said. “We went to a military base, went to the beach and did all these amazing activities that I won’t forget.”
The group was coached by Lisa Haley, who was a member of the coaching staff for the Canadian national women’s team that won the gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
They also got a chance to train under Brigette Lacquette, who became the first Aboriginal female to make it onto a Canadian Olympic hockey team in 2018.
“You just make so many relationships from all over the country pretty much. I just won’t forget it,” said McDonald. “I’m so happy and proud that I was able to do it, considering that I’m just from the NWT too.”
Once training camp wrapped up, the film crew then followed the team to Boston, where they documented the run that they had at the Women’s Beantown Classic hockey showcase tournament.
“They told us before that if you make the team, you get to go on this huge tournament, so that was a motivator,” she said. “Sadly, we got kicked out because we lost our first two games and we ended up picking it up in the last. It was sad when our coach finally told us that we couldn’t go any further.”
Despite the end result, she said that the entire experience was life changing.
“I learned a lot of new techniques and new drills. I feel like it made me improve so much compared to before I went. I even noticed that – compared to last year playing in tournaments – I feel like I’ve improved so much and I’ve been doing a lot better,” she said.
But she added that it was the relationships that she developed along the way that made the experience extra special.
“Just to have been able to meet all those people. I miss them so much,” she said.