When your team has lost just one BC Hockey Female Midget AAA contest since the beginning of the 2018-19 season, you're in a good situation.
That's the case for Whistler forward Camie Matteau Rushbrook with the Greater Vancouver Comets. After going 32 for 32 in her debut season, Matteau Rushbrook and the Comets are 13-1-0 in league play so far this year. According to myhockeyrankings.com, the Comets are ranked third in the country as of Dec. 19, and have been No. 1 at times this season.
Matteau Rushbrook helped the Comets to a league title last season and they advanced to the Pacific Midget Female Regionals against the Alberta champion St. Albert Slash before bowing out.
In her sophomore season, the 17-year-old has risen in the Comets' ranks, serving as an alternate captain and already surpassing her goal total from her rookie season with five tallies and five assists so far.
"My second year has been awesome so far. Even though we're halfway through the year, I feel like we're just getting started," she said. "It's been awesome to take on more of a leadership role this year, being a second-year player on the team. I'm mentoring some of the new girls because we have quite a new team. So far, it's been really, really great. We're finding good success as well, which has been awesome."
Matteau Rushbrook has taken her game to the next level as well, and on Dec. 20, BC Hockey announced that she was selected as its Female Midget AAA player of the month for November.
"I'm not going to say that I'm the strongest player on the ice, but it's nice for people to recognize the work that I put in off the ice, bringing everyone together and keeping that positive environment," she said.
After steamrolling through the league last season, being the only one of the five clubs to post a winning record, both the Fraser Valley Rush and Northern Capitals have won more games than they've lost heading into Christmas, with the Rush handing the Comets their only loss in Matteau Rushbrook's tenure.
"Obviously, it's not nice to lose, but it's nice to have that competition in the league. It's nice to see other teams doing well," she said. "There's a lot more competition this year and I think it'll make the playoffs really interesting.
"It'll be good, because we'll really get to learn how to fight for our spot in the league and fight for a championship."
Even in the face of significant turnover from last season, the Comets gelled quickly, Matteau Rushbrook said. In its first action of the campaign in September, Greater Vancouver won the Stoney Creek Midget Showcase in Ontario, which was a bonding moment for the squad.
"We started to hear all these Ontario teams talking about us, which was a really big deal because we're this little team from B.C. We're not really well known in the hockey world," she said.
More recently, the Comets posted a 3-0-2 record at the USA-Canada Cup in Kitchener and Waterloo, Ont.
While the quality of competition is toughening in the B.C. league, Matteau Rushbrook said the truest tests come when the team heads east.
"There's no competition like going to play those teams in Ontario and Alberta. Obviously, they have way more teams, a bigger pool to pick from, and they have some really amazing teams and skilled players," she said.
Though she's often in the city or on the road with the team, Matteau Rushbrook still lives in and attends school in Whistler.
"Last year, it was harder because there was so much travel involved and there was quite a bit of missing school involved," she said. "This second year has been quite a bit easier to transition to for me and my family. I'm a lot closer with a lot of people who live in the city now, so sometimes I'll stay over there.
"It just makes the transition easier."
Even with her busy schedule, Matteau Rushbrook has made a point of making time for the next generation of young hockey players. During the Hometown Hockey festival in February, she presented to elementary school students about her journey, and she has helped with the female atom team's inaugural season.
"I never in my life would have imagined that I would have so much of an impact on people in my community and hockey has given me that outlet to help others and lend support to all those people who made me who I am today," she said. "All those people in Whistler Minor Hockey and all those teachers at the schools, they're the reason I've been so successful and why I'm doing so well."
Matteau Rushbrook added that she hopes to coach more with the Winterhawks in the New Year. She's glad to see the team come to be, as she played boys' hockey until joining the Comets last season.
"It's really important for those young girls to have a positive female role model who's been through the same thing as them," she said. "When I was their age, I wish I had someone that would have came out and supported me in the same way."
Matteau Rushbrook will graduate from the Comets after this season. She is planning to pursue her postsecondary education next year, but hopes to keep playing hockey whether it's at the varsity or intramural level.
"I want to keep the game in me. I want to keep playing," she said.