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Paul Lefebvre - MP for Sudbury
Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2019
Surprises and smiles the story of the Snowflake
by Randy Pascal

There is an interesting dichotomy at play in the upper levels of girls hockey in Sudbury.

On the one hand, it's not the least bit unusual to see girls who have donned Lady Wolves jerseys, at some point in their careers, opt to migrate back to the houseleague ranks, rendering the local representatives quite strong relative to their provincial counterparts.

The travel requirements of both league and tournament play give way to a desire to immerse themselves in high school sports, their studies, part-time jobs and the glut of other life-related activities that become more of a priority in the older teenage years.

On the other hand, at times, the attraction of showcasing the Lady Wolves logo, at least one time, will also motivate lifelong houseleague players to suit up in rep uniforms at least once before their high school days are over.

Both sides of this coin were presented, in evidence, this past Sunday at the Gerry McCrory Sports Complex, as the annual Snowflake Challenge wrapped up tournament play with some sixty plus girls hockey teams on hand.

“A lot of the girls on this team have never even played Lady Wolves, a lot of us have never played together,” noted 15 year old grade 10 Lo-Ellen student Emma Dyer, a member of the Sudbury Midget “B” Lady Wolves. “The team wasn't really supposed to happen, but it did, and it turned out really well.”

It did indeed.

The team is the fourth competitive crew in the midget pecking order locally, following in the footsteps of the Midget “AA”, Midget “A” and Midget “BB” squads. While this is not the first time that Sudbury has featured a quartet of competitive midget teams, it's certainly not an annual occurrence.

Making this year's tournament even more intriguing was a Midget “BB” final that featured a Lady Wolves (B) vs Lady Wolves (BB) matchup, with precious little to choose between the two groups. In fact, the locals had played to a 2-2 tie in the round robin segment, setting up a showdown on Sunday.

Understandably, Dyer and company were able to enjoy a little more of the “just happy to be here” mindset as game time approached. “We have a lot more ice-time (than in houseleague), so we're seeing a lot of improvement,” said Dyer. “It's really fun to see everyone improve and having a good time.”

“At the beginning of the year, we couldn't even break out and we couldn't score. It took us like five games to get a goal. Now we're working so much better together, making better passes.” And work together they did, receiving second period goals from Acadia Solomon and Emily MacIsaac just over three minutes apart en route to a 2-0 win over the Midget “BB” Lady Wolves.

Though disappointed with the end result, the silver medal winning crew continue to add to the memories they have gathered over the years, with about half of the team returning from the 2017-2018 lineup.

“Most of us have played together before, I've played with pretty much everyone on the team before,” noted Midget “BB” workhorse Lexie McNamara, an hour or so prior to the gold medal encounter. “We have worked a lot on breakouts, all of our power plays, things like that, the team structure, so that everyone knows the way we are going to play.”

Everyone, including some very close friends. “Marley Turcotte and Hannah Whyte and I have been playing hockey together since we were like four, in school hockey, girls hockey, and they're my best friends,” said McNamara.

“We kind of do everything together, so it's nice to have them on the same team as me. Marley is really funny, likes to keep the team happy and excited, and Hannah is always a hard worker, no matter what, on and off the ice.”

Over time, the wins and losses will meld together, but the friendships and memories will always remain.

“There's a lot of local teams (at the Snowflake Challenge), so we know a lot of the girls,” noted Dyer. “A lot of my friends play houseleague, so we get to see each other and they can watch our games and stuff, which is really fun.”

A year ago this time, the Sudbury Stellars and Barrie Colts went no less than eleven rounds of shootout before the locals emerged as midget champions with a 2-1 win. Incredibly, the core of both teams were right back at it this year, with the Barrie Blue Bull Sharks emerging with a 1-0 shootout win, over the Stellars, in the rematch, with Avery Mogridge providing the game-winning heroics.

The Sudbury Midget “A” Lady Wolves maintained hometown bragging rights, blanking the Kapuskasing Jaguars 2-0 as Chloe Leduc and Allie Lumme scored for the winners. That said, it wasn't as though out of town teams had little to celebrate.

The Hearst Ice Cats captured both the Novice HL final (5-1 over Barrie Orange) and the Peewee HL final (6-1 over Barrie Sharks), while the Temiskaming Shores Puckhounds returned home with banners from the Peewee “B”, Atom “C” and Midget “BB” consolation finals.

The Novice “B” girls produced a thriller, as Kaylee Bolton drilled home her fourth goal of the game with 3:17 to play, snapping a 4-4 tie and propelling the North Bay Ice Boltz past the Sudbury Lady Wolves 5-4. Sophie Gauld, with two goals, Sadie Frantz and Ella Sabourin scored for Sudbury.

Despite finishing fourth in round robin play, the Wawa Mustangs stopped the Sudbury Wolverines in the semi-finals (3-1) and bested the Sudbury Capitals in the Bantam HL final (1-0), as Alana McKenzie buried the only goal of the game.

Finally, the Hearst Ice Cats also took home gold in the Atom HL division, just barely slipping past the Sudbury Stingers by a final score of 1-0, while the Sudbury Tsunami claimed the Peewee HL consolation crown with a 2-0 whitewashing of the Sudbury Panthers.

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