Savanna Payne glides around the ice with a puck on her stick.
She wears pink gloves that accentuate her black helmet and pants.
The bespectacled 11-year-old patrols the right side, quick on her feet, chasing down loose pucks in the friendly confines of the tiny, dimly lit Gros Morne Arena in Rocky Harbour.
Payne, who has been shooting around the puck since she was four years old, stands out on the ice this year as the only female player in the peewee division of the Gros Morne Minor Hockey Association.
Being the only girl in the mix could be somewhat intimidating for some girls, but Payne has always shared the ice with the boys so she’s gotten used to it.
She fits in nicely with her teammates because a lot of the boys are her friends off the ice. She doesn’t get treated any differently from any of the players and the same goes for her coaches.
“If I’m upset about something one day and I have hockey, then I can talk to my friends at the rink and I always feel better,” she said.
Payne isn’t one of those young girls who likes to sit around the house. She loves to be outdoors with her friends, enjoying things like snowmobiling and playing in the snow. She also spends a fair bit of time honing her volleyball skills with her school team.
Hockey is a sport that provides her with so many things so she loves.
That rink is a safe haven for her. In a small town where there’s limited opportunities, she’s thankful she can head to the rink when she’s not busy or wants to see a friendly face.
Hockey has become an avenue to keep active and meet other girls her age. She also gets a chance to enjoy the road trips she makes to places like St. Anthony and Corner Brook during the hockey season.
Hockey has also been an outlet for her to get away from the daily grinds and life challenges that youth face today. It also helps break up the harsh winters that have become the norm on this part of the province.
Hockey is a game she has grown to love. She hopes others see the fun she’s having and decide to add more pink gloves to the mix.
“It’s a really fun game,” she said. “I get to meet new friends and it’s fun to drive to games with your family.”
With every shot and every sharp edge, she keeps her head up and smiles. This is where she wants to be.