This month, the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame held their annual induction awards and for the very first time, a female player was one of the honoured inductees. That was three-time Olympic and World hockey champion, Kennedy, SK-born defenceman, Colleen Sostorics.

Colleen Sostorics, #5

Kennedy, Saskatchewan is a village in south-eastern Saskatchewan best known for being as the home of the Moose Mountain Rodeo.  Sostorics grew up on a farm just outside of the village and as a Snowflake, armed with her older brother Mark’s #5 jersey, she hit the ice, found she loved the game and kept that jersey number throughout her entire hockey career. With her dad, Lanny, coaching, she began playing hockey on the local team as the only girl. The following year, she convinced her best friend, Brandy West, to start playing too. West, who has also had an impressive hockey career, is now an assistant coach for the University of Regina women’s hockey team, the Cougars.

We thought we were the only girls playing hockey back then. We really didn’t know any different.

Sostorics wasn’t just able to compete alongside the boys, she excelled and was a leader: she was picked to captain her bantam team in 1996.

I grew up playing with the same core group of players all the way through minor hockey so I never really thought of them as ‘boys’ nor did they think of myself and my best friend Brandy as ‘girls’, we were all just hockey players.

She played for Team Saskatchewan at the 1995 Canada Games (silver) as well as the 1997 Canadian Under-18 Championship (bronze), then packed up her bags and moved to Calgary to go to university where she studied Economics and played for three seasons with the Dinos, the University of Calgary’s women’s hockey team. She also played and captained the Calgary Oval Xtreme for 10 seasons, a professional women’s hockey team which folded in 2009.

Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist

Sostorics got her first slot representing Canada as Captain of the National Women’s U-22 Team in the 1998-99 season. For the next 12 years, she was a mainstay on the team. She is a three-time Olympic gold medallist (2002, 2006 and 2010) and a three-time world champion (2001, 2004 and 2007).

I’d say that every game I played was a “favourite” game. I liked practices but I loved playing games. But that final game in Vancouver, playing in the 2010 Olympics on Team Canada against Team USA, that would probably be my favourite game of all. We won the game, shutting them out 2-0 and I’d say it really gave us the opportunity to pump up our chests, proud to be Canadian and proud to be on part of such a great team.

Former NHL player, Kitchener, Ontario-born Scott Stevens was her hero and while playing on the boys teams, her heavy body-checking style of play was modelled after him.

I think one of the things I liked about playing ‘boys’ hockey (and probably the thing I missed and had trouble adjusting to in girls hockey) was body checking. I love to play aggressive and it took me some time to understand how to play aggressively without full body checking ( but I think I managed it eventually).

Sostorics is a true athlete, excelling at soccer and fastball (named Saskatchewan provincial MVP in fastball in 1994 and 1995). After her first Olympics, she took up rugby and won a national championship with Team Alberta in 2003.

There’s a street in Kennedy that’s been named in her honour and since retiring from playing, in 2010, Sostorics is still involved in hockey as an instructor, coach and public speaker.