Sudbury Midget "AA" Lady Wolves head coach Jay Duncan has long maintained that he believes that championship teams are built from the back-end out, that solid overall team defensive play will ultimately lead to success.
The good news, following his team's participation in the Stoney Creek Midget Showcase over the weekend, is that the 2019-2020 edition of his squad can keep pucks out of the net with the best of them.
The challenge comes at the other end of the rink.
Despite surrendering just a single goal against in four round robin games, the Lady Wolves had to settle for third place in the O'Neil Division, netting just three goals of their own and posting a record of 2-0-2 in preliminary round action.
The weekend started well enough for the locals, as the team blanked Detroit Belle Tire 1-0 on Friday morning, with Mya Headrick pulling the trigger and Kristen Mrozewski recording the shutout.
Netminder Madison Brunet had no issue following the tag-up with Mrozewski, extending the team streak of defensive excellence to back to back games, but the firepower was notably absent, as Sudbury settled for a 0-0 tie with the Kingston Ice Wolves.
A second straight draw on Saturday morning, though the Lady Wolves did manage to find the back of the net (Aiofe Mahaffy) in a 1-1 tie with the Etoiles Laurentides-Lanaudière from Québec.
The northern crew then book-ended their initial quartet of games the same way that they started, with a 1-0 win, this time over Team Illinois, as Vanessa McKinnon handled the offense and Brunet racked up her second white-wash of the tournament.
Looking to return home with something to build on, the Lady Wolves delivered with their first two-goal performance, all while maintaining their trademark discipline on the flip-side, downing the Madison Capitals 2-0 on Sunday.
Aoife Mahaffy and Vanessa McKinnon both buried their second tallies of the weekend, with Mrozewski pulling even with Brunet in the shutout department as Sudbury was matched up against another divisional third place team in their final outing.
"If we score just one more goal, we play in the gold division," said coach Duncan. "We have given up three goals in eight games and still have not lost a game this year (6-0-2). This is still a pretty great start."
The crew will now prepare for a tougher tournament test at the end of October as the Lady Wolves compete at the Two Nations College Prep Series in Detroit from Oct. 25-29.