An eight-day stretch that was among the more critical this season is now in the books, with the locals having accomplished what they set out to do. The team opened the Lower Lakes Female Hockey League playoffs on Feb. 2 in Parry Sound, blanking the North York Storm 5-0 in their Central East quarter-final ice-breaker.
Goals from Shelby Small, Mélisa Kingsley, Marley Patterson, Kennedy Lanktree and Stephanie Legault provided the offence, with Danika Lefrancois racking up the shutout between the pipes.
Four days later, the team kicked off their Ontario Women's Hockey Association playdown double-round-robin set against a very familiar foe, tackling the second Midget AA Lady Wolves team.
The 2013-2014 season marks the first time the Lady Wolves organization has ever iced two teams at this level, and for good reason. While the Armstrong/Stortini squad has consistently ranked among the top handful of Midget AA teams in the province this year, the second crew, led by head coach Darren Moxam, has proven itself extremely competitive against the vast majority of Ontario teams in this category, as well.
Of course, it creates something of an unfair playing field when the two locals meet up, with the Armstrong/Stortini girls posting a 6-0 shutout last Thursday at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.
Sydney Walker paced the attack with a pair of goals, with singles coming courtesy of Jenna Gough, Karli Shell, Victoria Pitawanakwat and Small. Stephanie Pascal posted her fourth consecutive shutout, and fifth in her past six games.
It was off to North York on Saturday, with a chance to eliminate the Storm. The Lady Wolves wasted little time, jumping out to a 3-0 lead and cruising to a 5-1 win as Shell scored twice to power the attack.
Small, Legault and Lanktree also found the back of the net for the Sudbury crew, who will now face the Toronto Aeros in a divisional two of three set beginning on March 1.
In the meantime, their path to the OWHA Provincials took a nice step forward on Sunday as the Lady Wolves edged the defending national silver medallist North Bay Ice Boltz 2-1 at the West Ferris Arena.
Megan Burt opened the scoring with a blast from the blue-line, with the score sitting at 1-0 into the third period. The visitors capitalized with the man advantage to double their lead as rookie Meagan McGaughey stepped in nicely off the wing, burying what would eventually stand as the game-winning goal.
The Ice Boltz managed to cut the lead in a short while later, jamming home a rebound after speedster Maria Dominico was turned aside on a partial breakaway by Pascal. While North Bay pressed hard over the final two minutes, the Sudbury crew managed to hold the fort, gaining the upper-hand in the playdowns, which sees each team play each other twice.
While the Armstrong/Stortini girls are in Parry Sound this weekend, welcoming the Whitby Wolves, Oakville Hornets, Stoney Creek Sabres, Saugeen-Maitland Lightning and Scanlon Creek Hockey Academy for a series of exhibition games, coach Moxam and company will travel to North Bay to face the Ice Boltz in their first of two tête a têtes.