The Sudbury Midget AA Lady Wolves have officially served notice they are a force to be reckoned with.
Sure, the team already had three tournament wins on their resume as they entered play at the Lady Senators 8th Annual Winter Showcase in Ottawa Jan. 18-20.
But none of those events had been host to the kind of field that one can write home about. And while the likes of the Stoney Creek Sabres, Whitby Wolves and Toronto Aeros were not in attendance in Ottawa, the 16-team field was pretty solid across the board, from top to bottom.
Not nearly as solid, however, as the local ladies, with the Midget AA squad reeling off seven-consecutive victories en route to a tournament championship, capped off with a 5-2 victory over the North Bay Ice Boltz.
In arguably their most sluggish game of the seven-set, Sudbury did enough to secure a 3-1 win in their opener over the West Northumberland Wild.
Victoria Pitawanakwat broke the ice with a second-period tally and Eve Boissonneault started her scoring parade with a pair later in the game.
With that contest behind them, the Lady Wolves began to hit their stride, blanking the Clarington Flames later that afternoon.
Goals from Sydney Walker, Karli Shell, Pitawanakwat and Boissonneault provided more than enough support for netminder Stephanie Pascal, recording the first of three straight shutouts.
Playing very well in stretches, the Northern girls scored three times in the final 3:07, snapping a 2-2 tie and downing the Vaughan Flames 5-2.
Jenna Gough, Megan Burt, Stephanie Legault, Pitawanakwat and Shell found the back of the net for coaches Tim Armstrong and Tim Stortini, as a balanced attack featured a stretch with seven different players accounting for seven Sudbury goals in succession.
Any fear of easing into the playoff round were quickly put to rest in the final encounter of the round robin.
Shell roofed a loose puck for the game-winning goal and Boissonneault added some insurance, stuffing home a rebound off a point shot from Deidre Debassige in a 2-0 whitewash of the Guelph Thunder.
After getting goals from defenceman Marley Patterson and Boissonneault, the Lady Wolves were unable to pull away with a third marker, despite holding control of much of the play in their quarter-final against the Oakville Hornets.
In the end, Sudbury would hold on for a 2-1 win, safely securing their spot in the final four.
Facing a Citadelles de Quebec team that had scored 16 goals in their first five games, the locals knew they would have to be at their defensive best.
Apparently, that message resounded with both teams as the girls battled through 45 minutes of play to a scoreless draw.
Playing a five-minute four-on-four overtime session, the Lady Wolves killed off a penalty and were rewarded moments later, as Boissonneault wristed the game-winning goal into the top right-hand corner with just 35 seconds showing on the clock.
Pascal turned aside 22 shots in keeping her tournament streak alive, finishing the event with 43 straight saves.
The momentum of the semifinals carried over to the championship affair, as Sudbury bolted to a 3-0 lead on a pair of goals from Boissonneault and another from captain Renee Leclair.
With the Lady Wolves struggling to stay out of the penalty box, North Bay closed the gap to 3-2 midway through the third before Boissonneault sealed the deal with her ninth goal of the weekend.
A Grade 12 student at College Notre-Dame, Boissonneault led the tournament in scoring with 14 points and has already committed to attending the University of Maine, joining the Black Bears women's hockey program in the fall.
Patterson added one final nail to the coffin as Sudbury earned temporary bragging rights, though much more will be on the line when the Lady Wolves and the Ice Boltz kick off their provincial playdowns in February.
The 2012-2013 edition of the Sudbury Midget AA Lady Wolves includes Emily Toffoli-Henderson, Stephanie Pascal, Megan Burt, Marley Patterson, Shelby Small, Renee Leclair, Deidre Debassige, Jenna Gough, Kennedy Lanktree, Karli Shell, Victoria Pitawanakwat, Stephanie Legault, Teagan Moxam, Eve Boissonneault, Kathleen Bertuzzi and Sydney Walker.
Coaches Armstrong and Stortini are joined on the bench by assistant coaches Samantha Stortini and Karly Armstrong, with Mike Mascioli and manager Natalie Lafleur-Roy unable to attend the festivities in the nation's capital.
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