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Wildcats fall short at provincial championships

The UBetcha Senior AA Wildcats saw their well tuned offensive machine sputter for just a game but it was enough to eliminate the team in the quarterfinal round.

The UBetcha Senior AA Wildcats saw their well tuned offensive machine sputter for just a game but it was enough to eliminate the team in the quarterfinal round.

Despite the solid goaltending of Deanna Boissoneau, the Wildcats fell to the Belmont Blazers 1-0 in the quarterfinals at the Ontario Women's Hockey Association Provincial Hockey Championships in Brampton on the weekend.

The loss was only the second one on the season for the local club that captured the bronze medal at the tournament last year.

The following is a complete release provided by the Wildcats on their experience in Brampton.


UBetcha Wildcats Quest for Medal Falls Short

They've only lost two games all year, including one at this past weekend's Provincial Championships, but as the saying goes, "Timing is everything".

In a must win quarterfinal game, the Senior AA Wildcats, who averaged almost four goals a game this year, were shut out by the Belmont Blazers 1-0.

Belmont went on to win the silver medal.

The loss for the Wildcats was one of several upsets during the Championships. UBetcha was one of only two teams from last year's top four to make it out of the preliminary round and into the top eight. The Wildcats, last year's bronze medallists, finished sixth overall in a field of sixteen teams. Brampton, last year's silver medalists, finished eighth.

"In the eighteen years that I've competed in these championships, this year was by far the toughest in terms of talent and level of play," said Wildcat Lorie Springall. "It's great to see for women's hockey. A few years back the calibre wasn't this high. We've improved immensely in the last two years, but so have all the other teams.

"Former AAA players and former national team members are finding a home with AA teams. That in itself raises the bar. Combine them with a core of young players and goalies who have graduated from excellent coaching in the minor programs and you've got a great talent pool for quality AA teams.

"It was amazing to play at such a high level. To come home without a medal is disappointing, but losing only once against this kind of competition is something we can be proud of."

In earlier games, UBetcha defeated London Aces 2-1, tied Oshawa 3-3 and tied St. Catharines 1-1 to clinch a quarterfinal berth.

Deanna Boissoneau was outstanding in net for the Wildcats in the 1-0 quarterfinal loss to Belmont. The only goal that got past her came on a power play effort midway through the second period.

UBetcha had power play chances of their own but couldn't connect, going 0-for-4 in the game. Belmont's defence was air tight, giving up nothing. The Wildcats' inability to finish scoring opportunities haunted them. Coach Craig Coletti pulled Boissoneau in the final minute of play for an extra attacker, hoping to send the game into overtime but to no avail.

"We were snake bitten once again around our opponent's goal," said Coletti. "It's not unusual for teams to go through a scoring drought. It's just unfortunate that it happened to us this weekend."

In the Wildcats' opening 2-1 win against London, rookie Michelle Koskela scored her fifth game winning goal of the season.

It was a great start to the tournament for the Wildcats who dominated most of the game. London's goalie was the only reason the score was so close. Koskela's goal put the Wildcats up 2-0 with 2:51 left to play.

London's only goal came with 21 seconds remaining, taking advantage of a Wildcats defensive breakdown.

Team Captain, Catherine "Cat" Schryer scored the Wildcats opening goal. Melissa Holder assisted on both goals while Sharon Buehner and Lorie Springall each had one assist. Boissoneau earned the win for UBetcha.

In the Wildcats 3-3 tie with Oshawa, Melissa Holder scored twice while Sharon Buehner and Lorie Springall each had two assists. Ashley Driver scored her fifth of the season and rookie Mallory McCormick pitched in with one assist. The Wildcats had a glorious opportunity to put the game out of reach during a full two-minute 5-on-3 power play but couldn't capitalize.

A 1-1 tie with St. Catharines was enough to send the Wildcats into the quarterfinals. Shannon Mashinter scored the only goal for UBetcha, completing an impressive passing play involving all five Wildcats on the ice including Melissa Holder and Erica Avery. Avery made a nifty move to get the puck to a wide open Mashinter for one of the prettiest goals of the tournament. Boissoneau was solid in goal, giving the Wildcats a spot in the top eight.

The UBetcha Wildcats wrap up their season with one final tournament in Niagara Falls March 19-21.