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6 Questions with Brayah and Zoe

The Ottawa Valley U11 AA Silver Seven goalie tandem talk about how they got into the game, their advice to other girls and making hockey more inclusive

Hailey Perreault - Hockey Eastern Ontario
March 4, 2022

Brayah Bemrose and Zoe Dyke are only 10 years old, but they are already making a name for themselves in the hockey world. The pair are goalie partners – and the only girls on the Ottawa Valley U11 AA Silver Seven.

“It truly does make the conversation rounds, especially when they see two girls in net competing in AAA tournaments in the Toronto area,” says Natasha Danschinko, Zoe’s mother, the team’s goalie coach and a great role model for the girls.

Danschinko is no stranger to elite-level competition herself, having competed in two Ontario Winter Games as a ringette goaltender. She credits her years playing ringette for so much of her hockey success. Danschinko attended Brock University for her undergrad, where she was a member of the women’s basketball team. She went on to play university hockey for two seasons, backstopping the Ottawa Gee Gees from 1999-2001, while completing her master’s degree and teacher’s college. After graduating from the University of Ottawa, Danschinko spent one season playing with the Ottawa Raiders of the former National Women’s Hockey League. She still finds the time to strap on the pads today, playing men’s pick-up hockey with various groups in the capital region.

“My daughter will no doubt make the switch [to women’s hockey] one day, but right now she truly loves playing with and against the boys,” Danischinko says. “How cool is it that the two goalies at the AA level in the area this year are girls? Zoe and Brayah are also best friends, so it makes the relationship even more special. They push each other to be their best, but 100% support the success that each have. When they found out they made the team, they were over the moon that they were going to play together and be a girl goalie tandem.”

Hockey Eastern Ontario asked Brayah and Zoe about their experience in hockey so far and what advice they would give other girls in the game.

Q: How did you get into hockey?

Brayah: I first got into hockey when I was around three years old. I did learn-to-skate sessions every Monday. My parents then registered me for the Little Sens program. The following year I started hockey with the West Carleton Warriors. I always loved going to the arena to play hockey, and that has not changed at all.

Zoe: My family was playing hockey – and I wanted to play like my mom and brother. I started when I was six years old. I wanted to be a goalie because my mom plays goalie and she made it look like lots of fun, and I said I would never be angry if I let in goals.

Q: What has it been like getting to play with another girl as your goalie partner?

Brayah: It's been an amazing experience so far, not just because she is my best friend – she is really supportive and we understand the same things. We give each other pep talks between periods in a game. When we have to change in a separate change room, it's nice to have my teammate with me.

Zoe: It feels like it’s great because there is another female playing with me against the boys – it’s probably the best feeling ever as a goalie.

Q: What lessons have you learned from hockey?

Brayah: I think the biggest lesson I've learned from hockey is to never give up, even when things get really tough, and to go that extra mile to get better. I think if everyone remembers to go out on the ice with confidence and know that you will try your hardest even if you don't get the outcome you wanted, you still know that you tried your hardest and you can't change that.

Zoe: Don’t give up, don’t let other people tell you that you can’t play hockey as a girl [and] don’t put your head down if you lose or things don’t go your way.

Q: What advice would you give to another girl looking to get involved in hockey?

Brayah: Just do it! It can be scary or hard at first, but the more you practice, the better it gets. The main reason to play is to have fun; the minute you are not having fun, you need to figure out the reason and then try to fix that. It doesn't matter what league or level you play, just have fun.

Zoe: Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t play hockey as a girl, and don’t give up if you don’t make a team you are trying out for – there is always a team that will want you.

Q: What are your goals in hockey?

Brayah: I want to keep playing competitive with the boys. I want to make our AAA team, then get drafted and play junior or in the OHL. I also really want to play in university on a Division 1 team in the U.S. I also want to play for the country in the world championship and also go to the Olympics. I want to be a starting goalie in the NHL for a full season.

Zoe: I want to make it to the highest level every year. When I am older, I want to play university hockey in Canada or in the U.S., and I want to play on Canada’s National Women’s Team.

Q: How do you think we can make hockey more inclusive?

Brayah: I have been really lucky to have amazing coaches. My teammates are amazing and always include Zoe and I in things, which I think has a lot to do with the coaches teaching them that it doesn't matter who you are, it matters how you play the game. Encourage kids to join a learn-to-skate [program] at a young age. Have hockey ambassadors of all ages, races and sexes so that if people have questions, they can reach out to that ambassador. I think a way to make hockey more inclusive is to have more grants and sponsors to help families pay for their kids to play.

Zoe: 1) Teach people that hockey is for anyone, and anyone can play – it doesn’t matter if they are a boy or a girl or from a different country. 2) If you see someone that wants to play hockey, you can encourage them to play and show them videos of everyone playing. 3) Create a place where everyone can feel safe to play sports.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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