Two Kemptville girls are getting the chance to play with the Ottawa Senators this holiday season. Eleven-year-old Brooklyn McNeely and eight-year old Lily McNeely are two of fourteen other kids who have been selected to take part in the Ottawa Senators skills competition at the Canadian Tire Centre on New Years Eve.
The Senators Junior Skill Challenge is open to Novice, Atom, and Peewee minor hockey teams who are registered with Hockey Eastern Ontario, Ottawa District Womens Hockey Association, or Hockey Outaouais. Both girls play for Kemptville Storm, with Brooklyn playing at the Peewee level, and Lily playing on the Novice team.
To qualify, Brooklyn and Lily had to compete against other girls and boys of their age in a skills competition at the Canadian Tire Centre earlier this season. “In order to sign up, all you had to do was buy four tickets for one of the games,” says their father, Pat McNeely. “I thought it would be really cool for them to have the opportunity to play on a big rink.”
At the tryouts, the girls were put to the test with challenges that measured their agility, speed, and accuracy on the ice. Brooklyn says her favourite activity was the agility weave, where she had to handle a puck while skating in between pylons, while Lily preferred the obstacle course. The McNeelys did not expect the girls to make it through the try outs, and when they got the emails that they had both been chosen to skate with the Sens, the whole family was over the moon. “[The girl’s] feet haven’t touched the ground since they got the news,” says their Grandfather, Gary Blake.
The girls will be competing alongside the Ottawa Senators on December 31, either on Team Karlsson or Team Phaneuf. They will have the opportunity to meet the Sens and sit on the same bench as them, as they wait for their turn to skate. Brooklyn says she hopes to get the chance to meet Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who plays centre, like her. Lily is also hoping to meet her favourite player, Sens Captain, Erik Karlsson.
The whole family is looking forward to what is sure to be a special New Years Eve for all of them. Mother, Terri-Lynn McNeely, says it’s incredible to see her children skating on such a big rink. Brooklyn and Lily also appreciate the fact that they are going to be able to share the experience as sisters, and remember it for years to come. “As Brooklyn has said, it’s a once in a lifetime experience,” Pat says.