by Randy Pascal
In slightly over two full games of hockey, the North Simcoe Capitals and Sudbury Peewee “BB” Lady Wolves combined to score just two goals.
It turns out that putting the puck in the back of the net was not a whole lot easier, even with the overwhelming majority of the opponent’s lineup still on the bench.
Tied at a goal apiece following their five minute overtime session in their divisional gold medal encounter at the 2017 Snowflake Challenge Sunday at the Gerry McCrory Sports Complex, the teams sent out no less than 24 separate players to decide their shootout.
Summer Bisaillion would put an end to the tenseness, finding a small opening between the legs of the Capitals’ goalie, lifting Sudbury to a 2-1 win. Katelynn Jacques had given the Lady Wolves a 1-0 lead just thirty seconds into the contest, with Mackenzie Czapla evening matters late in period two.
The lengthy penalty shot session was necessitated only when Sudbury’s Ayla Lagace managed to roof a shot just inside the cross-bar on the Lady Wolves’ third attempt of the shootout, offsetting an earlier tally from Ashaunasea Robinson of the Capitals. The teams had previously played to a 0-0 draw in round robin action earlier on the weekend.
Just over two hours later, on the very same ice pad, the drama was reignited for the Bantam House League grand finale. With Paige Crowder (Sudbury Royals) and Alison Smith (Sudbury Wolverines) among the standouts for two teams that know each other intimately well, the contest took on the feeling of a chess match within a game, as the rivals played through 32 minutes of scoreless regulation hockey.
Just 37 seconds into the four on four segment, Smith would bang home the rebound of a drive from defenceman Jenna Korzeniecki, lifting the Wolverines to a 1-0 win. “We were really nervous,” said Smith. “We honestly didn’t think we were going to win. They’re usually a stronger team than us. They have a more powerful player (Crowder) than most teams, so we stuck to her and played together.”
While Smith would draw the assignment of shadowing her smooth-skating counterpart, the Wolverines relied, as well, on the 24-save standout performance of goaltender Tori Laflamme, along with the combined efforts of a defensive corps that would make zone penetration challenging for the Royals.
“I mainly stuck to her (Crowder), but I tried to use my team and my defense to get the puck up,” said Smith. “Our defense, I find, is very strong, especially as a unit. If I saw that we had possession, I would try and stick in and help.”
Come overtime, the Royals took a calculated risk, holding Crowder off for the opening shift in order to shake the Wolverines' defensive coverage. “I was a little bit less defensive,” said Smith. “I thought it was more important to try and score in that time, before she got back on.”
Close finishes were evident everywhere, but nowhere moreso than in the Midget House League bracket. Not only would both semi-final encounters require shootouts to decide matters, but the finalists stayed that same course with the championship banner on the line.
Jordan Heffern scored the only goal of the shootout, vaulting the Sudbury Stellars to the final with a 1-0 win over the Sudbury Chicks with Sticks. Over on pad #1, the Barrie Colts received a shootout snipe from Alex Freeman-Carter, allowing her team to slip past the Sudbury Hawks 4-3 in the other semi-final. Her heroics, however, were required only after a game tying goal from teammate Avery Mogridge sent the contest to OT with 0.4 seconds showing on the clock.
No sense in changing the M.O. in the final as goals from Emma McNulty (Sudbury Stellars) and Freeman-Carter (Barrie Colts) in regulation set the stage for yet another shootout, with Morgan Arlt burying the difference maker for the hometown girls as the Sudbury Stellars trimmed the Colts 2-1.
The Sudbury Lady Wolves rode a three point performance from Isla Cirillo (two goals and an assist) to a 5-3 win over the North Bay Ice Boltz in the Novice “B” final, with Olivia Carrière, Carrington Parisé and Sophie Gauld rounding out the scoring for the winners.
Maryn Tarini scored four times in helping the Sudbury Coyotes to a 6-3 triumph over the Sudbury Vipers in the Peewee House League battle for local bragging rights. Mackenzie Weber and Mylie Laundry joined Tarini on the scoresheet for the Coyotes, with Jalia Frank (2) and Calie Portelance countering for the Vipers.
The Sudbury Lady Wolves claimed the Midget “B” consolation final with a 3-2 win over the North Bay Ice Boltz, with Sydney Medina, Kate Dambremont and Grace Keenan pulling the trigger for the nickel city skaters.
Settling for silver, on a local front, were the Sudbury Atom “C” Lady Wolves, falling 2-1 to the Timmins Falcons, in spite of a goal from Gracie Caridade. The Peewee “B” Lady Wolves suffered a similar fate, blanked 1-0 by the Timmins Tahoe Falcons, while the Sudbury Midget “BB” Lady Wolves came up on the wrong side of a 2-0 semi-final decision opposite the Timmins Kiwanis Falcons.
The Barrie Sharks would return home with the Midget “BB” banner, trimming Timmins 2-1 in their grand finale, while the Thunder Bay Fury and Kapuskasing Jaguars hooked up in one of the more wide open encounters of the weekend, the Fury claiming a 5-3 win in the Midget "B" bracket.
Katie Filipovic and Brooke Herman grabbed the spotlight, with each Thunder Bay forward scoring once and assisting on her linemates goal as the pairing drilled home markers 22 seconds apart with under three minutes remaining, snapping the 3-3 tie that previously existed.
A total of sixty teams were in action at the Snowflake Challenge this year, as city hotels were kept hopping for a second straight weekend, the event coming directly on the heels of the highly successful Silver Stick Regional in early December.