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Pursuit: These Wolves are a force to be reckoned with

The 2023-24 version of the Sudbury U13 AA Lady Wolves team is ranked second in Ontario
Here can be seen the Sudbury U13 AA Lady Wolves team, fresh off a big tournament win at the Mississauga Hurricanes AA Winter Showcase, earlier this month.

In the spring of 2016, the Sudbury Peewee AA (now U13) Lady Wolves caught lightning in a bottle, entering the OWHA provincial championships as the 12th-ranked team in Ontario and exiting as silver medallists.

The podium finish was a first for the local association in an age bracket where the top Sudbury and District Girls Hockey Association (SDGHA) rep team had typically seen fit to compete at an “A” level to ensure a good degree of competitiveness.

In recent years, that has changed, with the U13 AA crew typically taking on the lead role in this division for the Blue and White. Rarely if ever, however, has this group bumped up much above a top-ten ranking in the province — until now, that is.

The 2023-24 version of the Sudbury U13 AA Lady Wolves now only sits second in Ontario, behind only the Markham-Stouffville Stars (utilizing the mildly scientific “My Hockey Rankings” algorithms), but are now coming off a very impressive tournament win at the Mississauga Hurricanes AA Winter Showcase, an event they captured in style.

Deadlocked in a 3-3 draw with the Burlington Barracudas and playing three-on-three hockey in overtime, the young crew looked to their offensive catalyst, who did not disappoint.

A highlight reel-worthy toe-drag from Ella Sabourin split the D and she tucked the puck up over the goalie’s shoulder goal, a video of which is making the rounds of Instagram, and deservedly so.

This came after Ally Hebert had pulled her team even with just 40 seconds to play, converting on a set play with help from Alyssa Bryant and Reese Doherty to force the extra session. 

The victory capped off a weekend where solid competition and outstanding netminding would leave the Lady Wolves battling their way through six tough matches en route to a crown that featured triumphs over two of the top four teams in the province.

That trend started early as Sudbury edged the host Mississauga Hurricanes (No. 4) by a final count of 2-1, a score that would grow in popularity with every passing game. Unfortunately, the northern girls were on the wrong end of that scoreboard in game two, suffering their only loss of the weekend, a 2-1 setback to the Kitchener Lady Rangers.

Saturday action would bring about two more wins for head coach Scott Rienguette and company, his squad slipping past PCAHA (Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association) as well as the Cambridge Roadrunners, both by a final count of 2-1.

Sudbury netminders Abigail Ouimet and Kloe Rienguette continued to come up with key saves as needed, backstopping their teammates through a pair of Sunday classics. Ally Hebert, Alyssa Bryant and Ella Sabourin would light the lamp as the Lady Wolves toppled the Central York Panthers 3-2 in semi-final play, setting the stage for a showdown between the No. 2 Lady Wolves and No. 3 Barracudas.

The game featured the intensity one would expect, with Burlington jumping out to a 2-0 lead before Ella Sabourin breathed a little more life into the Sudbury attack, cutting the deficit in half on a nice feed from Nellie Brunette late in period two.

Still needing one to tie, the Lady Wolves were rewarded when Alyssa Bryant bulldozed her way through three defenders in the corner, jamming home her own rebound early in the final frame. The Barracudas were unfazed, burying a screened shot past Ouimet to regain the advantage and force the end of game dramatics for the Nickel City ladies.

“I thought we showed great resiliency in the final, not having the lead until we scored the overtime winner,” noted Rienguette. 

In addition to getting yeoman’s service from his collection of minors in this age bracket (Hebert, Doherty, Davie Dale, Reese Morris), the U13 AA team earned gold with contributions right across an entire roster that also included: Brooklym Bertrand, Addison Bronicheski, Julia D’Angelo, Alexa Dubreuil, Brooklyn Harris, Alexie Miller, Penelope Ouimet and Emma Plante.

Joining Rienguette on the coaching staff are Jamie Brunette, Rebecca Sabourin, Emma Chamberland, trainers Kristen Dubreuil and Shannon Dow and team manager Silvana D’Angelo.

Randy Pascal is a sportswriter in Greater Sudbury. Pursuit is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.


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