CND base of girls hockey excellence is established
by Randy Pascal
Since the launch of SudburySports.com in January 2004, much has changed in the landscape of local sports in Greater Sudbury. Yet there remains an
ardent interest in re-visiting the past, with several of the This Week in Sports (TWIS) articles garnering copious comments over the years.
And while the TWIS feature will continue to focus on taking a stroll down the memory lane of Sudbury sports in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s,
it seemed only fitting to re-publish some of the original articles that appeared on our website, near the start of the new millenium, from time to time.
Just for old times sakes.
With the 2015-2016 Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes girls hockey team guaranteed no worse than a silver medal at the 2016 OFSAA "A/AA" Girls Hockey
Championships in Stratford, the time seemed right to look back at a silver medal crew, from the same school, excatly a decade ago.
Of note in this feature, Manon Davis of CND would go on to enjoy a very productive career with the Windsor Lancers of the OUA, joining
former Lockerby Vikings' netminder Jamie Tessier in the southwestern corner of Ontario.
Joelle Belanger, who along with former NCAA goaltender Shawn Sirman, welcomed the birth of their first child earlier this winter, moved on
from Notre-Dame to enjoy a four year career, manning the blueline for the St Lawrence Saints of the NCAA.
Vicki Bendus would go on to star with the Mercyhurst Lakers, winning the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2010, presented
annually to the top women's hockey player in the NCAA.
A second crack at the Stouffville Spartans provided no better result than the first time around for the College Notre-Dame Alouettes girls
hockey team, but with OFSAA silver medals in hand, there is very little disapointment in a group that accomplished far more than expected.
Despite a 5-2 loss in the gold medal encounter to the Spartans (Manon Davis accounted for both CND goals), the Alouettes remain quite pleased with
a second place showing, after being seeded eighth entering tournament play in St Thomas. The silver medal performance was a second consecutive strong
tournament showing for the team, which captured gold at the Franco hockey tournament three weeks earlier.
"To tell you the truth, our expectations were to make it to the quarter-finals" said head coach J.C. Davis, adding that the team had advanced to
the round of eight even while competing at the AAA/AAAA OFSAA in previous years, a notch above their natural level.
"I was really impressed with our team - the semi-final overtime game was amazing", noted Davis of the 5-4 overtime victory that saw Notre-Dame battle
back from a 3-0 deficit (see below). The local ladies opened play with back to back shutouts as Grade 9 netminder Natalie Vincent backstopped the
Alouettes to victory.
After dropping their final preliminary round game to Stouffville (3-0), the local ladies rebounded to eliminate South Huron 3-1 before recording an
exciting 5-4 semi-final win over Jean Vanier. "Natalie (Vincent) was spectacular against South Huron - the players I had hoped would step up did big-time",
In fact, the St Thomas Times Journal, providing daily coverage of the OFSAA championship, highlighted a list of "top 10 performers plus notables
who brought fans to their feet with their stellar play...", a group that included three Alouettes:
Manon Davis: "Just three points for the captain in round robin play but truly starred in the playoffs. Scored twice and set up the other in a 3-1 upset
win over second-ranked Exeter South Huron. A hat-trick including game-winner out-shining Vicki Bendus (a member of the Provincial team) in the 5-4 overtime
win against Jean Vanier."
Natalie Vincent: "Carried her team to the final, making big saves in the wins over Exeter South Huron and Collingwood Jean Vanier...not to mention,
Vincent is just 5'2" in Grade 9 and her first year of high-school hockey"
Andrea Hyde: "Strong play throughout her team's six games. A key insurance goal in 3-1 win over South Huron in the qyarter-finals"
Also earning honourable mention to the list compiled by reporter Rob Ross were Joelle Loiselle and Melanie Bimm, while Davis felt
strongly that the outstanding defensive effort of blue-liner Josee Belanger, should not be overlooked.
The list was topped by Bendus at # 1, followed by Stouffville netminder Liz Knox, grand-daughter to long-time local hockey fixture Bev McIver
of Valley East. Both Bendus and Knox took part in the National U-18 championships in Salmon Arm (British Columbia) late in 2005, with Bendus suiting up with
Sudburian Rebecca Johnston for Ontario Team Red.
While the Alouettes did not capture the city championship, losing in straight games to the Lockerby Vikings, both teams garnered NOSSA titles a
week later, with CND representing the north at the A/AA level, and Lockerby heading to London for the AAA/AAAA championships.