by Randy Pascal
The Lower Lakes Female Hockey League (LLFHL) regular season schedules are now completed, with the majority of local teams in the league opening their first round playoff series this coming weekend.
Finishing second only to the Toronto Aeros, the Midget "AA" Lady Wolves (14-3-5) have drawn the 7th place Barrie Sharks (6-10-6) to start things off. Following a 1-1-2 performance at a tournament in Ottawa which a pair of scoreless ties in early January, the Sudbury girls wrapped up league play with a 5-2 win over the Sault Ste Marie Wildcats and a 2-2 tie with the North Bay Ice Boltz.
The Barrie matchup should not be taken lightly, with the Sharks having captured two of the teams three head to head battles this year. The four point affair commences Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at the Sudbury Arena, with game two set for February 9th in Barrie. Game three, if necessary, goes the next day back in Sudbury.
The Midget "A" Lady Wolves are hoping to return to late 2017 form for the post-season, riding a nine game winning streak over a six week stretch in vaulting themselves all the way up to a third place finish (11-6-5).
That placement makes for a first round battle between Sudbury and the Etobicoke Dolphins (9-9-4), a tete a tete that opens this coming Saturday afternoon in Bala, with games two and three (if necessary) scheduled for February 10th and 11th.
Coming off their winning streak, coach Daran Moxam's crew slipped just a touch, closing out with a 1-2-1 mark in mid-January. The games remained tight, as Etobicoke edged the Lady Wolves 2-1 in their final weekend, with Joelle Gagnon netting the only goal for the locals.
The team moved on to Barrie the next day, playing to a 2-2 draw with the Sharks, with Vanessa McKinnon handling all of the scoring. But it was back into the win column for the regular season finale, a 4-0 shutout of the Mississauga Chiefs.
Rylee Moxam, Allie Lumme, Hannah Nykilchyk and Danika Godin all found the back of the net in the win. The series with the Dolphins promises to be an entertaining one, the teams splitting their two game set with one win each.
The Bantam "AA" Lady Wolves are in a little tougher by virtue of their 6th place finish (9-10-3), drawing the Mississauga Chiefs (13-5-4) in round one. Coach Mike Lachance and company were right in the mix in the final weekend of play, posting a record of 1-1-1.
That sequence was kicked off with a 3-3 tie with the North York Storm (8-8-6), with Ellee Lacasse scoring twice for Sudbury and Chloe Leduc adding a solo marker.
Pitted against their playoff opponent, the Lady Wolves dropped a 3-2 decision, with Kelsey Dunnand Lauren Fearn providing the offense for the Northern Ontario squad. Yet another team to at least enter the post-season on a winning note, the Bantam "AA" reps whitewashed the Markham-Stoufville Stars 4-0 in their final regular season outing.
Fearn scored twice to show the way, with Dunn and Leduc also helping out. Sudbury and Mississauga will actually get their first two games in the books this weekend, with a 6:30 p.m. Saturday time and 12:30 p.m. Sunday slot planned for the Iceland Arenas. Game three, if required, goes on February 10th.
Last but not least, the Bantam "A" Lady Wolves avoided the rather messy scenario of having to play North Bay a gazillion times in the next month or so, despite missing out on second place via a tie-breaker.
Coach Don Tremblay and the girls posted a record of 12-4-6 when all was said and done, exactly the same stat-line as the Barrie Sharks. But a 2-1 Sharks' win following a pair of ties in their head to head matchups would mean that the Lady Wolves placed third, slotting them opposite the Toronto-Leaside Wildcats in the playoffs, with North Bay (7th) and Barrie (2nd) now going toe to toe.
That series is tentatively set to be completed, in its entirety, on the weekend of February 9th to 11th in Toronto. The Bantam "A" ladies will try to build on a season-ending 2-0 triumph over North Bay, as they look to balance their LLFHL playoff schedule with the requirements of regional playdowns against the Ice Boltz, looking to book their ticket to the OWHA Provincials in April.