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Sudbury sport chaos before a little March break calm
2022-03-11

So just how close is the Sudbury sports scene to typical March normalcy? – which, to be clear, is not normal at all, but far more chaotic.

Well, my rather unscientific research suggests far closer than one might expect.

The tell-tale sign for me is when the glut of sporting events, tidbits regarding local athletes, etc... begins to require a form of “round up column”, the wonderfully literary potpourri that allows folks such as I to jam-pack all sorts of results, quotes and updates into a 1000 to 1200 word mixed bag of Sudbury sporting snacks.

And that is definitely the case coming out of the first official weekend of March.

For starters, the Sudbury U18 AA Lady Wolves recently booked their ticket to the OWHA Provincials in April, disposing of a pesky North Bay Ice Boltz team 3-1, on the road, after the rivals had played to a tie in Sudbury a few days earlier.

Forward turned defenceman Abby Lanteigne, who opened the scoring with a first period blast, fully acknowledged that she and her teammates were anything but relaxed, prior to the contest, with so much on the line.

“I think that we did feel the pressure,” suggested the 17 year old grade 12 student at Lockerby Composite, a lifelong centre who made the switch back to the blueline brigade this year. “All of our games with North Bay have been decently close. We’re more of a skilled team and we seem to outplay them for the majority of the games, but in the end, the games are all kind of close.”

“We were also very nervous because we did not have home ice advantage.”

That said, her ice-breaking snipe certainly helped the morale on the bench, giving her team just a little breathing room early on. “We went down on a rush and the puck came out to me from a pass or something off the boards,” she recalled. “I went in and took a slap shot and it found an opening and went into the net.”

“I have scored maybe one or two goals this season, so it was exciting to score in this game. And with the first goal of the game, all of the nerves, once you score, goes down a bit.”

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One of the interesting bi-products of having a January without games is the inevitable compression of the schedule for the remaining months should teams and leagues stick with their initial fall numbers.

Between March 1st and March 8th, the Nickel City U15 AAA Sons and Sudbury U15 AAA Nickel Capitals met up no less than on five separate occasions, with each team winning twice and the teams playing to a 4-4 draw as the calendar flipped over from February 28th.

In many ways, the games stand in stark contrast with one another, and that’s without factoring in the 13-10 aberration that Sudbury captured back on February 28th and the local squads decided to stage their version of an NOHL all-star game that somewhat resembled ODR shinny.

Where the 4-2 Sons victory Tuesday evening at the Gerry McCrory Sports Complex would see only three minor penalties assessed in total, other games have featured a bit of nastiness, no surprise to rugged Caps forward Cole Dubowsky, who scored twice in the 4-4 tie.

“I felt like we played hard, played rough, played physical, but just couldn’t get it done,” said Dubowsky following that match-up in Chelmsford. “They’re our rivals, a hard-hitting team that likes to play hockey.”

As all of the teams in the northern AAA loop prepare for playoff weekend from March 18th to the 20th, the 15 year-old grade nine student at St Benedict Catholic Secondary School noted that you must prepare intelligently for these glut of games.

“You have to get the legs ready, make sure that you get some rest over night,” said Dubowsky. “Eating well and drinking lots of water is important.”

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The eighteen “A” teams that gathered for the opening weekend of the Nickel District Minor Hockey League playoff tournaments may have warmed the palate a little for local hockey fans, but it was on the main course this past weekend as no less than thirty teams contested ten different banners at a variety of Sudbury venues.

Local teams rising to the top included the Copper Cliff U15 AA Reds, who avenged a Silver Stick loss with a 4-0 win in the Karlo Bubalo final over the Timmins North Stars. Goaltender Declan McNamara backstopped the Reds to victory with the shutout, while Jacob Marshfield, Nolan Corriveau, Kadin Broomhead and Jordy Giroux handled the goal scoring needs.

The Copper Cliff U11 AA Reds were not quite so fortunate, upended by a final 10-3 by the Nickel City U11 AA Jr Sons in the Gerry McCrory championship affair, with Coen Chretien and Myles Talbot leading the attack with two goals each.

The remainder of the banners would be heading out of town, though a few locals walked away as proud finalists when all was said and done. The U12 AA Eddie Shack crown would be claimed by the Sault Majors, doubling the Nickel City Jr Sons 4-2, with Merik Maillet and Dylan Villeneuve pulling the trigger for the local entry.

The Timmins U10 AA North Stars scored three times in the third period, outlasting the Copper Cliff U10 AA Reds 7-4 as Adam Dabliz, Ty Clark, Thompson Drew and Massimo Gianfrancesco bulged the twine for the Cliffers.

The Sault Majors also laid claim to the Jim Conners U18 hardware, downing the Nickel City Jr Sons 4-2, with Bryce Firman and Michel Croteau doing the damage for the latter. Finally, the Soo Jr Greyhounds were clearly the class of the U11 AA field, whitewashing the Sudbury Timberwolves 8-0 and returning to the Lock City with the Toe Blake banner in tow.

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In high-school action locally, a late goal from Katelynn Jacques propelled the St Charles College Cardinals to a 2-1 victory over the Bishop Carter Gators, that after the first two games in the championship final series had both finished tied at 1-1. Breanna Coyne (Gators) and Ayla Lagace (Cards) traded goals earlier in the contest.

By the time the Thursday edition of the paper hits the streets, the St Charles boys may well have matched their female counterparts. The Cardinals take a 2-1 series lead over the Horizon Aigles into game four Wednesday night in Lively following a convincing 7-1 triumph in Val Caron on Monday, as Scooter Rienguette netted the final four goals of the game for the winners.

St Charles took game four 7-4 - see SDSSAA/NOSSA rap-up story for more info

The Lo-Ellen Park Knights swept the Lively Hawks in straight games to capture the SDSSAA Boys Hockey B banner.

Outside of Sudbury, former SDSSAA student athletes continue to grab the spotlight. After scoring a natural hat trick to lead the Nipissing Lakers to a 4-3 overtime win over the University of Toronto Blues, defenceman Madison Laberge was named Greco’s Lakers Athlete of the Week.

Meanwhile, down in Kitchener-Waterloo, Dylann Mazzuchin scooped up Golden Performer accolades after shooting 60% from the field and supplying a steadying force at both ends of the floor for the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks women’s basketball team.

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