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Boltz and Lady Wolves bantams going the distance

Teams split first two games in regional playdown
The Sudbury Bantam "A" Lady Wolves and North Bay Ice Boltz split the first two games in their race to four points in the OWHA regional playdown. (File)

The Sudbury Bantam "A" Lady Wolves are hoping they did not let the North Bay Ice Boltz off the hook in their current OWHA (Ontario Women's Hockey Association) regional playdown, with the winner moving on to the provincial championships in April.

On Friday night in North Bay, the Lady Wolves rode a three goal effort from Alison Symington in game one of their four point affair. Sudbury led 2-1 late in the contest before adding a pair of empty net goals to ice the game, with captain Alexie Olivier netting the final one.

Goaltender Maija Valtonen picked up the win between the pipes, while Amanda Symington, Jill Kusnierczyk and Sophie Bensley all drew assists. Cone Saturday at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex, the tables would be turned.

Tallies from Matsyn Ferreira, with a pair, as well as Kahlen Lamarche vaulted the Boltz to a 3-1 third period lead. A late power play goal from Olivier, with keeper Abigail Calvank on the bench, wasn't quite enough as the visitors evened the series with a 3-2 win.

Kusnierczyk added the remaining marker for Sudbury. 

"Because we won yesterday, I think we got maybe a little too confident today that we were going to win, and that's really not what we need to do," said Olivier. 

"We need to show focus. We have to bring it every time we are in the arena. We pressured more yesterday. We hung back today, instead of going forward, and didn't shoot as much on the net. That's not quite what we wanted."

While the game itself, in Sudbury, was very evenly balanced, there is little doubt that the Lady Wolves hold a clear-cut advantage in overall team depth, with the Ice Boltz running a roster of some 11 skaters.

"Because they have a very short bench, we have to do short shifts and dump the puck in their zone a lot, make sure they always have to go get it," said Olivier. "We have to have two people on it, all the time. We can't make it easy on them to get the puck."

A very young bantam "A" team, the Sudbury roster bears a strong resemble to the Peewee "AA" team of 2016-2017, with some key second year additions added to the mix. That familiarity has come in handy, according to the well-spoken captain.

"Our friendship in the dressing room, that's one of the big things we have improved on," said Olivier. "On the ice too, our communication has really helped us win games. It's a big key."

The series will wrap up at the beginning of March, with both teams now taking a few weeks to focus on their Lower Lakes Female Hockey League playoff matchups. In other news from the Sudbury District Girls Hockey Association, the first team coaches for 2018-2019 have been named.

Don Tremblay, currently at the helm of the Bantam "A" team, moves up to guide the Bantam "AA" crew next year, while incumbent Jay Duncan will lead the Midget "AA" girls into a big season which will be capped off with the team hosting the 2019 Esso Cup in April of next year.

Brent Assinewai was awarded the Peewee "AA" team, while Darryl Williamson will be head coach for the Atom "AA"/"A" (still to be decided) team come the fall. Remaining coaches at other levels will be confirmed over the course of the next 4-6 weeks.