Sudbury Lady Wolves: Playoff and Playdown update
by Randy Pascal
It's getting down to crunch time in the world of competitive girls hockey, and nowhere is that more evident than with the Sudbury Midget “AA” Lady
From April 21st to the 28th, the local squad will play host to the 2019 ESSO Cup, having secured both a gold and bronze medal at the event over
the course of the past five to six years.
Understandably, the team would like to enter play at nationals right at their peak, with at least a couple of top-end opportunities to fine-tune their
game still on tap in the next four to six weeks. In LLFHL (Lower Lakes Female Hockey League) playoff action, the Midget “AA” Lady Wolves have already
disposed of both the Vaughan Flames and Aurora Panthers in a minimum of four games, outscoring their opponents 17-3 in post-season play.
Now things get interesting, as the locals will face the Toronto Aeros in a best of three affair, beginning next Saturday at Seneca College. While
the Lady Wolves topped the Central Division standings with a record of 19-1-2, the Aeros, a perennial powerhouse, provincially speaking, were just five
points back at 15-2-5.
“The Aeros are a very good and skilled team,” said veteran defenceman Jaiden Duncan. “We're both top teams in the league, so it will be a
challenge. We will need to play our “A” game. We know we're playing one of the best teams, so we need to play to our potential.”
With five weeks or so to go before the Lady Wolves take to the ice with five of the best Midget AA girls teams from across the country, Duncan and
company are not about to get stagnant. “We still have to improve and we'll have to change a few things, because we know we can't go into nationals just
using all of the same stuff that we have been using all year. Teams will know what we're doing.”
A core of returning players, which included Duncan, welcomed a handful of new faces to the team back in late August, including Hearst native Emilie
Comeau. A 16 year old second year midget who patrols the blueline, the grade 11 student at École Secondaire catholique l'Horizon was a member of
the Hearst Lumber Kings boys teams throughout her youth, until she suited up with a girls team in Timmins last year.
“This is my first year that's really intense with the girls,” acknowledged Comeau. “It's a different kind of play. First of all, you have more time. I'm
the type of player who will make the passes – I have a good way of seeing the game. I think I find it more rough playing with the girls than when I was
playing body contact with the boys,” she added.
“With the boys, there are more clean hits, but the girls play a rougher game.” Still, she is convinced that the idea of billeting locally with relatives
is definitely the way to go, as she hopes to land a hockey scholarship by this time next year. “Playing with the girls is different, but it's fun,” she
said. “With the girls, I am always with them.”
“With the boys, I had to dress alone. I get to know the girls more, it's better bonding.”
The Sudbury girls will host games two and three, if necessary, on the weekend of March 23rd and 24th, with the winner of this series advancing to the
LLFHL Championship weekend on March 29th to 31st, with OWHA Provincials slated to run from April 5th to the 7th.
Still with provincials, the Lady Wolves will send a delegation three teams strong to represent the local hopes in Peewee play in April, following the
completion of recent playdown action. The Sudbury Peewee “AA” Lady Wolves had already secured their spot, given no other teams in the same category
in the region were registered, before being joined by the next two in line.
The Sudbury Peewee “A” Lady Wolves racked up a scoreless tie to open their four point affair with the North Bay Ice Boltz, with Desirée
Belanger recording the shutout. The girls then took advantage of home ice to chalk up a 2-1 victory one week later, as Katelynn Jacques netted
the game-winning goal with just 38 seconds to play.
A neutral site game apparently did the Ice Boltz no favours as Sudbury registered another close win, 3-2 this time around as Aydra Henri and
Chloe Charbonneau joined Jacques on the scoresheet.
Rounding out the 2018-2019 Peewee “A” roster are Janna Tarini, Mercedes Zazulak, Danika Gray, Lauren Pineau, Sutton Morin, Sarah Withers, Hannah
Staffen, Isabel Rheault, Izabel Courville, Ava Bois, Nyssa Solomon, Vivian Rondina, Madison Robert, head coach Ricky Rheault and assistants
Paul Courville, Jason Bois and Emma Chamberland, along with trainer Nicole Adams.
This, however, was hardly the only local team with a flair for the dramatic. In walking away with back to back 2-1 wins over North Bay, the Sudbury
Peewee “B” Lady Wolves went right down to the wire, in each game, before emerging victorious.
Peyton Aikia netted the winner with under three minutes to play, after Olivia Ball had put the locals on the board in game one, while
Aiden Panella waited until the final minute, pulling the trigger with 51 seconds remaining in game two, with Lileigh Dormer rounding out the
scoring for the winners.
Back to the LLFHL, for a moment, as the Sudbury Midget "A" Lady Wolves are also one series win away for championship weekend. After disposing of
the King Royals with ease (10-0, 7-1), the locals were pushed to a third and deciding game before eliminating the North York Storm with a 4-0
The Sudbury squad, which split the first two games by scores of 3-0 and 1-4, received tallies from Danielle Pitre, Vanessa McKinnon, Hannah
Nykilchyk and Jenna Lachance in support of the shutout effort of goaltender Kristen Mrozewski. The Lady Wolves and Barrie Sharks
will contest their divisional final on the weekend of March 22nd, 23rd and 24th.
Finally, a fairly amazing streak was extended for local Lady Wolves alumnus Karli Shell this past weekend. The talented forward picked up a pair
of assists in helping to lead the Guelph Gryphons to their third OUA title in the past four years, doubling the University of Toronto Blues
Even more impressive, however, is the fact that her upcoming trip to the U Sport Championships in Prince Edward Island, later this month, will
mark the fifth time in the past six years that Shell and her teammates will have attended a national tournament, a run that dates back to her time as a
member of the Sudbury Midget AA Lady Wolves.