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Thursday, Apr. 25, 2019
Excelling on defence and working on the offence
by Randy Pascal

The Bantam “AA” Lady Wolves wrapped up their busiest month of the LLFHL (Lower Lakes Female Hockey League) schedule, by far, last weekend, registering a pair of ties against the North York Storm (2-2) and Barrie Sharks (1-1).

That result is not unusual. More than half of the team's league games to date have ended in ties, with Sudbury sporting a record of 1-3-5, currently sitting in fourth place (of ten) in the Central Division, but with all nine other teams in their bracket still holding games in hand.

“I see us as a competitive team this year,” noted head coach Don Tremblay, at a team practice earlier in the fall. “I'm hoping to be in the top half of the Lower Lakes “AA” loop. Our defensive game is very strong. Our girls move the puck pretty well, and they are very hard workers.”

“We're gearing a lot of our skills drills towards scoring and towards the forecheck, creating pressure,” Tremblay continued. “I'm hoping that will fall in place over the course of the season.”

While the offense remains a priority in practice, Tremblay will continue to lean heavily on the goaltending tandem of Maija Valtonen and Kiana Trottier. "I know that my team is going to need me at some point, so I try and make sure I am doing it for my team, not just for myself," noted Trottier, a grade nine student at Ecole secondaire catholique l'Horizon who is one of a very small handful of players who also suited up with the Bantam "AA" Lady Wolves last year, competing in the LLFHL.

"I loved playing Lower Lakes," said Trottier. "There's different shots and stuff, we get to test people from all over the place. It helps to know the different teams and what they like to do. Some will do a lot of dump and chase, others will come in wide and shoot. Different teams have different systems. This is all stuff we can tell our girls."

It is a given, of course, that Trottier and Valtonen must work hand in hand with their core of blueliners on the team. A 14 year old who attends Collège Notre Dame, Arijana Tuttle explains not only why her interaction with the puckstoppers is so critical, but why she chose to play defense in the first place.

"I like defending the players and protecting my goalie," she said. "I don't let people rush in and I get people out from the front of the net, so that she can see the puck more. We like to ask our goalies. Our goalies like to take the shot and we take the rebound."

"She (Trottier) talks to me a lot, so I like that," Tuttle continued. "She tells me if I have somebody on me, behind me, which helps a lot. And she says some funny things." That is just the kind of team atmosphere this coaching staff appreciates.

"I think when you're having fun doing something, everything else just kind of falls into place naturally," said Tremblay. "I think being away for weekends, there is a lot of team bonding, and I think that's a big component of having a successful hockey team."

That was just one of the reason why he and his staff believe the move away from playing against boys in local leagues, in favour of the all-girls loop that is the LLFHL, is a positive one, at this age, for the young ladies on their team.

"Moving from playing against boys to playing against girls recognizes that it's a totally different game," said Tremblay. "You go from your defense having a really good workout against the boys to more of an up and down game."

The Bantam "AA" Lady Wolves 2018-2019 roster features Maija Valtonen, Danika Lalonde, Carissa Baron, Alison Symington, Pascale Tremblay, Kianna D'Attilio, Aoife Mahaffy, Alexie Olivier, Kaiden MacLean, Breanna Coyne, Amanda Symington, Arijana Tuttle, Delaney Bridgeman, Jill Kusnierczyk, Mikayla Papineau, Meghan Papineau, Sophie Bensley and Kiana Trottier.

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