Tori Stebnitsky of the Kenora Black Betty's fights for the puck with Kylee Neniska of the Blaze, during the weekend tournament at the Thistle Rink.
Over 150 visitors were welcomed into Kenora for the annual Lake of the Woods Girls Hockey bantam -midget home tournament this weekend. Both divisions took gold in a very skilled tournament. Girls Hockey welcomed teams from both northwestern Ontario and Manitoba with Morden, Landmark, and Ft. Garry being represented, as well as Dryden and Fort Frances.
The midget division played a strong round robin but the non-stoppable Crush repeated their winning streak by taking gold over Steinbach 3-1.
"Our girls have come together this year uniting themselves through teamwork and leadership. They have proven themselves in larger venues -- such as Thunder Bay -- and they all should be proud of their accomplishments" says Crush coach Brad Doerkson.
Kaitlin Sparkman helped them keep more hardware at home, as the Midget Avalanche won Bronze over the Kenora Jets. Sparkman got the first goal of the game then the Jets responded with Hayley Monceief's marker. Ultimately Jocelyn Palichuk scored for a 2-1 victory and a bronze medal.
In the Bantam Division, the Blaze were on fire after their round-robin this weekend taking on Kenora's Black Betty's with a 3-1 victory to take the gold. They had outstanding goaltending.
"Having the momentum from our come back Dryden game really held our team together and gave us strength to fight for gold," said goaltender Gilly Derouard.
As well, this division is paying it forward by having seasoned former girls hockey players now mentoring and coaching these young ladies to victory. Volunteer Coaches and seasoned veterans who've returned to help out include: Emily Meronyk, Nikki Edison, Erin Gamble, Nicole Burton, and Riley Edwards.
"Having these young ladies coach our Bantam girls shows a new layer of respect for Hockey. Our young players are looking at a different angles of playing hearing it right from former players. It's been a true win - win for our girls" says president of LOW Girls Hockey Cindy Johnson.
Lake of the Woods next in home tournament will be January 6th for the Novice / Atom division.
(Submitted by Jolene Andrews)