Jemma Wallace
Jemma Wallace

Only high water could keep Jemma away from Ice Hockey

DEFENDER Jemma Wallace is so dedicated to her sport, the only game the foundation Brisbane Goannas player has missed came last year.

That was when she was flooded in at her home town of Coffs Harbour and couldn't make it up to Brisbane.

Wallace, 30, the Goannas' captain, makes the constant trip up to the Queensland capital to train and play with the team she helped establish in 2005.

The inaugural Australian Women's Ice Hockey League competition started the year after that.

The financial assistance Wallace and her teammates receive is meagre - the Goannas players pay for most of their transport, registration, playing gear and accommodation costs.

"But we do it because we love it," she said.

"I'm just lucky I have a Canadian boss who loves ice hockey, which means I can be flexible with my work hours."

Wallace's love for ice hockey originated from an unlikely, sub-tropical source - the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour.

"They opened an ice rink in there 13 years ago, when I was 17. I had no knowledge of the game," she said.

"I learnt to skate there and loved it straight away."

That triggered a rapid rise in the sport.

Four years later Wallace was picked to play for Queensland in the National Championships, before representing her country, and helping to launch the Goannas the next year.

So it was no wonder that Wallace was shattered when she couldn't make it to a game last year because of the floods.

"It wasn't good. It was disheartening," she said.

"But I was Facebooking the girls all the way to keep in touch with the result, and I had my full Goannas gear on while I was doing it."

The Goannas lost their first two games of this season to defending champions the Melbourne Ice, with the four-team competition starting on October 26.

But Wallace applied her typical optimism to the prediction on how her team, including players from all over Australia, and also from Canada and New Zealand, will go this season

"I think we're a chance to make the finals, and we all have a lot of fun whenever we get together," she said.

"If we have a successful season, I might put the skates up, but if we're still building by the end of it, I'd be happy to keep going."

The Goannas' next game will be against 2011/12 champions the Adelaide Adrenaline at Boondall next Saturday.

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