Throughout the winter, there are a number of tournaments, across the province, that have tended to attract a really solid contingent of local teams. Few did so with quite as much success as the Cambridge Roadrunners' 25th New Years' Challenge Cup earlier this month.
Furthermore, few of these events would see quite the haul of hardware returning north as that which resulted from the efforts of the Sudbury girls in Cambridge. Over the course of the next week or so, we hope to highlight as many of these SDGHA (Sudbury District Girls Hockey Association) teams as possible.
Returning for their second shot at the Cambridge Roadrunners Tournament last month, coach Mike Cole and the Sudbury Peewee H/L Bears were anxious to finish off what they started in 2018, leaving the event with silver medals one year ago this time.
The locals were pushed, on Friday, but survived, recording a 1-0 win over the Cambridge Roadrunners #2, as Grace Hallett netted the first of five goals on the weekend, with Morgan Larocque walking off with the shutout.
The Bears were just that much better, once again, than the Cambridge Roadrunners #3 in game two, improving to 2-0 with a 4-3 win as Hallett, with a pair, Carley Sobiera and Alivia Restoule handled the offense.
Back on the ice Saturday at noon, the Sudbury reps found out where the top-end competition was likely to come from, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Stoney Creek Sabres - Black, as Kendra Cole pulled the trigger for the northern squad.
Travelling more than four hours to face a quarter-final opponent that they see regularly, the Bears sent the Sudbury Coyotes packing by a final score of 4-1, with Hallett, Sobiera, Restoule and Tia Nootchtai all finding the back of the net for the winners.
Perhaps their best effort of the tournament would come on Sunday morning as the locals skated past the Cambridge Roadrunners #1 by a final score of 3-0, as Morgan Larocque recorded her second shutout, supported by markers from Hallett, Peyton Vendettiand Kendra Cole.
Unfortunately, the Bears would come up just shy of their final goal, beaten 3-1 in the championship affair by the Stoney Creek Sabres - Black, despite the fact that Gracie Caridade found her way on to the scoresheet, breaking the shutout for the Sudbury crew.
"It was great to witness the girls improve with every game throughout the weekend," said coach Cole. "It seemed that the more pressure they had on them, the better they played."
"The coaching staff is extremely proud of these girls," said assistant coach Mike Stone.
"With only 11 skaters, they faced some tough competition on some larger ice surfaces. Playing within our structure, they gave everything and more. The opportunity for the girls to play in the finals was a terrific experience".
Rounding out the 2018-2019 roster for the Sudbury Peewee H/L Bears are Chelsea Chenier, Maddie Gunby, Ave Kolodinski, Ella Smith, assistant coach Derek Caridade, trainer Tracy Caridade and manager Shannon Lafortune.
Meanwhile, the Sudbury Atom Flames may have endured an even more eventful weekend en route to their bronze medal performance in Cambridge.
The team also showed a propensity for winning the close ones, kicking things off with a 2-1 win over the Cambridge Roadrunners #1, as Kayden Hodgins and Maari O'Shaughnessy both hit paydirt for the Flames.
Despite a stellar effort between the pipes from goaltender Kate Bouchard (she unofficially turned away 63 of the 66 shots that she faced), the Sudbury girls kept it close in game two, falling 3-2 to the Oakville Blizzards, with Emma Merigioli and Kayden Hodgins finding the back of the net.
Day two would not go exactly as planned, as the locals were beaten 2-0 by the Stoney Creek Sabres - Gold, and 3-1 by Oakville in the semi-finals, bumping the team into the battle for third place on Sunday morning.
The challenge of that contest grew substantially larger when the stellar puckstopper fell ill, overnight, forcing the team to look for an emergency replacement, within their roster. With Kate Bouchard sharing her equipment, teammate Emma Fidler stepped up, and the team responded.
A 2-1 overtime win was just about as exciting as one could imagine, given the circumstances, most notably as Marin Wilson scored her first ever goal, in a game setting, in overtime, to lift the Flames to victory.
Joining Hodgins, O'Shaughnessy, Bouchard, Merigioli, Fidler and Wilson on the roster are Dalia Belanger, Addisyn Bischoff, Kaelyn Bischoff, Kallie Canard, Shelby Gervais, Jenna Campeau, Fiona Buchanan and Emily MacDonald.
The team staff features coaches Darren Wilson, Reg Canard and Natalie Merigioli, and team manager Sherry Canard.