All roads through NOSSA need not necessarily lead to OFSAA.
Such was the rallying cry in the recent wild stretch of high-school sports where an unprecedented health landscape created an environment whereby regional tournaments may have preceded the local events that typically serve as qualifiers to the former.
Though the decision had long since been made to shelve the 2022 winter sport provincials for high-school athletes, the games that were played at both the SDSSAA and NOSSA level this week more than made up for the absence of OFSAA, offering pretty much non-stop excitement across the north.
That was most certainly the case at a few local hockey rinks.
Defying almost all odds, the St Charles College Cardinals and Bishop Carter Gators appeared destined to produce a third straight regulation 1-1 draw Wednesday afternoon in Garson. After playing to back to back ties in the first two games, the teams were deadlocked at the same score midway through the third period of game three.
Thankfully for the Cards, the tandem of Ayla Lagace and Katelynn Jacques had other ideas. The familiarity of the two St Charles forwards led to a late game-winning goal, with Lagace making a picture perfect pass in the slot to Jacques, the latter making no mistake with the former having opened the scoring for SCC earlier in the frame.
“Me and Katelynn play on the same team with the Sudbury Lady Wolves,” noted Lagace on Thursday. “We know how to work with each other. We always practice going behind the net and she would go in front of the net. She knew just what to do.”
The Gators opened the scoring in the second period when Breanna Coyne jammed home a rebound following a blast from the point from Carissa Baron in a series that featured many club teammates going head to head on opposite teams once they donned their school colours.
“We knew each other very well,” said Lagace, who was regularly looking up at Lady Wolves teammate Danika Gray. “It was weird going into a faceoff against her, just weird, because I fell that I know her very well.”
There was notably less familiarity later in the day when the Cardinals boys team completed the double dip, taking the boys title with a 7-4 win over the Horizon Aigles, capturing the best of five series three games to one.
After splitting the first two games, St Charles took command with a 7-1 win in game three and were ahead 5-4 late when goals from Gavin Roy and Colin Burrell clinched the series. “We hadn’t seen them since the middle of November and I think our kids came in a little bit over confident – which was natural with some of the bigger wins that we had,” noted co-coach Rob Zanatta.
“After a couple of games, we were able to match lines a little bit better, get our defensive pairings set up. Once we did that, it seemed to help a lot. And as a team, we focused on defensive zone responsibilities for all five guys on the ice. We wanted to eliminate the man walking in off the wall – and eliminate odd man rushes.”
While the Cards received contributions from top to bottom of their roster, Zanatta did make note of a small handful of individuals. "Scooter Rienguette was fantastic all season, a real offensive threat," said the coach, alluding to his four goal scorer from game three.
"Colin Burrell really stepped up defensively; his back check was fabulous. Bradey Smith is a physical presence on the ice, even though he's not the biggest kid. He's strong on every puck, relentless on his forecheck - and he's an extremely intelligent hockey player."
"And Joe Gouchie, in net, really stepped up his game, especially for a kid in grade ten," added Zanatta. "That was impressive to us."
In the Division B final, the Lo-Ellen Park Knights swept aside the Lively Hawks by scores of 7-4 and 6-2, with the girls “B” final set for after the March break.
Massimo Grossi paced the Knights' attack with three goals, with Nik Harry and Ethan Katerynuk adding two apiece, while Brek Morrow netted a pair for the Hawks.Basketball Results
Over on the hardcourt, the Knights posted an impressive sweep as well, taking both the junior and senior banners at the NOSSA “AA” Basketball Championships this week. Led by a 25-point performance from Ethan Scott, the Lo-Ellen seniors bounced the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères 82-55.
Callum Bertrand added another 15 points, all from beyond the arc, while Joshua Huot replied with 18 points for the Panthères in a losing cause. An ultra exciting junior final came right down to the buzzer, as Lo-Ellen edged the Lasalle Lancers 68-63.
Over at Notre-Dame, the Confederation Chargers surprised the host team, besting the Alouettes 65-58 in the senior final while the Espanola Spartans made their way back along Highway 17 West with the NOSSA Junior “A” banner in hand.Volleyball Results
The NOSSA Senior “AA” Girls Volleyball final would go the distance as the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes see-sawed their way to a 25-21, 24-26, 25-16, 19-25, 15-9 five set win over the Lo-Ellen Park Knights.
In the junior bracket, a tie-breaker was required to come up with finalists, as round robin play left the Confederation Chargers, Lo-Ellen Park Knights and Champlain Requins all deadlocked with four points each. Advancing by the slimmest of margins – points for and against were literally 87/87, 87/86 and 86/87 – Confederation needed three sets to defeat Champlain (17-25, 25-20, 15-13).
The Horizon Aigles made their trip to Manitoulin Island worthwhile, walking away with the bragging rights in the NOSSA Senior Girls “A” Volleyball championship on Friday, giving the Val Caron school their first ever NOSSA banner in the sport in that division. In order to do that, the Aigles needed to get past a very talented and resilient Confederation Chargers crew, taking the final three sets to one.
A day earlier, in NOSSA Junior “A” Volleyball action, the Horizon Aigles absolutely ran the table, not dropping a single set along the way and sweeping aside the Lockerby Vikings in the grand finale.
Coached by Guy Perreault and Chantal Trepanier, the Horizon juniors were coming off a 6-0 regular season as the local volleyball crew look to finish off SDSSAA playoffs the week after their return from the March break.Curling Results
And last but not least, the city curling finals took place on Wednesday at Curl Sudbury, exactly one week after the same facility hosted the NOSSA finals (because of the timing of some of the NOSSA events, a few sports reversed the order for this year only – SDSSAA boys basketball finals are set for March 22nd and 24th, for instance).
The Lo-Ellen Park Knights downed the Lockerby Vikings 8-3 in the boys “A” final while the St Benedict Bears edged the St Charles College Cardinals 8-7 in the D2 matchup. Meanwhile, a quick glance at the SDSSAA stats website shows the Bishop Carter Gators girls' team posting an 8-5 win over the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères in the gold medal game.
The Lo-Ellen lineup featured Tyler Smith (skip), Clara Dissanayake (vice), Zoe Valliere (second) and leads William Arsenault, Thomas Arsenault and Lucas Black.