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Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018
Separation is evident in high school hockey ranks
2018-11-27
by Randy Pascal

The SDSSAA Varsity Boys Hockey League will not break into separate divisions until Christmas, once all eleven teams have completed a full round robin. A three game set, on Monday, however, began to show signs of where the various schools are likely to fall once the first half season dust is settled.

A loss to the St Benedict Bears (2-0) and tie with the Espanola Spartans (6-6) might well come back to haunt the Manitoulin Mustangs. The islanders improved to 2-2-1 with a 6-1 win over the Lively Hawks (1-4-0) in Walden, with Noah Hare giving his team an early 2-0 lead and the Mustangs never looking back.

Jalen Waindubence, Eric Varey, Jayden Little and Johnny Bushey rounded out the scoring for Manitoulin, while Eamon Dolphin potted the only goal that Lively would get past Jenelle Manitowabi. She would finish the contest with 17 saves while Wyatt Rogers and Hayden Wolff combined to stop 24 pucks at the other end of the rink.

Fresh off a tournament win in Walden and preparing to travel to another event in Niagara Falls next week, the St Charles College Cardinals (5-0-0) amplified their lead atop league standings with a 6-1 win, of their own, over the Lasalle Lancers (1-4-0).

Defenceman Spencer Lavallee enjoyed an offensive outburst, scoring twice, with singles coming courtesy of Matty Belanger, Cole Molyneaux, Evan Lamarche and Jordan Faught. Nick Crawford spoiled the shutout bid of Kameron McCue (19 saves), while the Cards fired no less than 46 shots at Lasalle netminder Thomas Rickard, who made several big saves.

Finally, welcoming aboard an influx of long-time "AA" and "AAA" hockey talent, the Horizon Aigles (3-1-0) served notice that they intend to give SCC and others a good run, blasting the Lockerby Vikings 8-0.

Mathieu Poliquin recorded the hat trick, Eric Frappier scored twice and Caleb Rainville, Cameron Mundy and Nikolas Lebuis hit the scoresheet once each, while Blake Barnard and Daniel Belanger combined for the shutout, finishing with 15 saves.

"Last year, at the end of the season, we knew we had a couple of boys coming down to play high school," noted Lebuis, whose new teammates include the likes of Eric Bourassa, Bryce Brunet and Samuel Saumure, all with multiple years in local "AAA" ranks.

"We had talked about it last year, at the end of the school year. We knew that we would have a talented team this year." To their credit, the Aigles displayed impressive discipline, assessed just a pair of minor penalties, with Lockerby staying away from the penalty box altogether.

"We're not a big bunch of guys, so we use our speed to our advantage, we get pucks to the net," noted Lebuis. "Against the bigger teams, we can't be scared out there. We have to move the puck upwards, not laterally."

As much as anything, the clicking of this team, at this stage of the year, is encouraging. "We have some guys that are younger, so we would have never played with them, but we had a couple of good practices before the season started," said Lebuis.

"We worked on power play, penalty kill, stuff like that, to get everyone in the same system. We have a similar style of play to last year. We really didn't have too many big guys last year either. We used our speed and that helped us out."

Following a snow day on Tuesday, the big game on the schedule on Wednesday sees St Charles and Horizon meeting at 3:30 p.m. at the Carmichael Arena. The Aigles are one of one of five SDSSAA teams heading to North Bay the weekend of December 6th to the 8th, taking part in the 45th annual NDA High School Hockey Tournament.

Horizon will join the Lo-Ellen Park Knights, Confederation Chargers, St Benedict Bears and Espanola Spartans at the event, which also sees the West Ferris Trojans, Widdifield Wildcats, Algonquin Barons, Central Algoma Huskies, Chippewa Raiders and St Joseph Scollard Hall Bears taking to the ice.

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