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Sunday, May. 19, 2019
Disappointment of playdown loss will not deter development process
by Randy Pascal

Make no mistake - coach Ian Frantz would have dearly loved to see his Sudbury Novice "A" Lady Wolves team qualify for the OWHA Provincials in April.

That said, he is not about to compromise his beliefs in the necessity of across-the-board athlete development to accomplish that goal.

After dropping a tough 4-1 game in North Bay on Sunday, the Lady Wolves came up with a much better effort the next afternoon, before eventually succumbing by a final score of 5-4 to a very talented Ice Boltz crew.

As is so often the case at this age, a small handful of players often dominate the scoresheet, the visitors led by returning forward Kaylee Bolton (three goals), and solo markers from both Sophie Leboeuf and Karlee Bolton.

Now in her third year with the Novice Lady Wolves (she started as a tyke), Sophie Gauld paced the homeside with a two-goal effort, joined on the scoresheet by both Anika Rheaume and Sadie Frantz.

"We've been playing against these guys all year, so it was obvious," said coach Frantz after the game. "They haven't really changed their mindset about how they are going to roll their lines, heavily playing their top three players."

"When it comes down to push and shove in a championship game, we might make a slight adjustment, the last couple of minutes of the game. But these girls are seven and eight, they need to be exposed to the game."

"That's why we took 17 players, instead of going with two lines like North Bay did. We wanted everybody to get ice time in big games. We made a couple of decisions on the power play, in the last three minutes of the game, putting some of the more senior tenured players out on the ice to give us hopefully a better chance to get four to six more games at a provincial championship."

"But we'll make up that ice time with those other girls who may have missed a shift or two later in the game. This is about exposing them and making sure that everybody gets the opportunity to develop equally, especially at this age."

With Sophie Gauld and Lauren Bouchard accounting for the only returning novices to the team, Frantz and staff were more than pleased with the advancements made by a highly coachable group of young ladies.

"We've taken a bunch of girls who came from not playing competitive hockey, and I feel that what they have done best is come to work hard, every single practice," said Frantz. "The leaps and bounds improvement that we have made with regards to skating is great, and even positional play."

"I appreciate just their willingness to listen and learn, and their positive upbeat attitude. All six of our "D" are brand new "D" this year," Frantz continued. "No one played defence, really, full time last year in houseleague. They've really done a great job of looking for their wingers."

Though the Novice Lady Wolves will now close out 2018-2019 with stops at the Leaside March Madness Tournament (March 8th-10th) and the Brampton Canadettes Tournament in April, the disapointment of missing out on provincials was certainly being felt Monday at the Toe Blake (Coniston) Arena.

"We have a lot of teary eyes in the dressing room right now, but it's a life lesson, and you carry that fire with you, and that's how you become a better hockey player, as you go through this journey."

Making that journey this year as members of the Novice "A" Lady Wolves were Isabelle Guilmette, Keanna Navarro, Hannah Adler, Lexi Dubreuil, Ella Gatien, Rachel Lazarus, Audrey McKinnon, Alexie Miller, Emma Mourré, Mattia Mullen, Makayla Paris, Ella Sabourin, Sophie Gauld, Lauren Bouchard, Sadie Frantz, Anika Rhéaume and Paige Taylor.

Joining coach Ian Frantz in helping guide this young squad were assistant coaches Scott Mullen, Michael McKinnon, Eric Navarro, Rebecca Sabourin and Chris Miller, trainer Natalie Despatie and team manager Lisa Adler.

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