by Darcy Rosie
The regular season ended on a high note for Sylvan Lake Scotiabank peewee female Lakers winning five of their last nine games in both league and provincial playdowns.
The strong finish has the girls focused on winning the B side of the North Central Minor Hockey Association playoffs. A total team effort has brought the girls to this point.
They continued their excellent play with a narrow 2-1 loss to one of the top teams in the league during their final regular season game Sunday.
The Lakers were leading the game 1-0 over second place Camrose until the dying second of the middle frame. With play deep in the Lakers’ end the clock had expired, but a faulty buzzer didn’t sound the end of the period before the visitors scored to tie the game.
The home team played valiantly in the final frame, but couldn’t muster another goal. Camrose on the other hand continued their onslaught of shots on goalie Kayla Rosie who stood tall until a goalmouth scramble led to the winning goal. Defenseman Hannah Goyan and Rosie combined to make several goal line saves before surrendering the final tally.
The game was an example of the team’s transformation this year as they bent, but didn’t break, to keep the game close.
In this game, Emma McNeil, more known for her bruising and solid defensive play, delivered a sweet pass to Carly McDonald who hammered home the puck for the team’s lone goal.
Overall the forwards were strong as they played solidly through the neutral zone where Jaeden Simpson had several key plays clearing the puck and passing it up to her linemates.
The other key element this year has been solid goaltending. The Lakers arguably have the best goaltenders in the entire league with veteran players Kayla Rosie and Bronwyn Jones backstopping the team in tandem. Regularly outshot three to one, Lakers’ goalies are always in form keeping the score close regardless of how many pucks the opposing team fires their way.
A bend but don’t break defensive group is led by team Captain Juliana Gulayets who quarterbacks the team breakout, provides much needed offense and is always first back to her end to stop the other team’s best players.
Hannah Goyan is a ‘take no mercy’ player in front of the net as she provides some muscle in the defensive end which is one of the reasons she was named an assistant this season.
Emma McNeil rounds out the defense and has been rock solid providing excellent work in both ends of the rink.
While held off the scoreboard in the final game of the season, assistant captain Kadey Rosie has had a good season offensively. She was just one point shy of finishing in the top 10 for all league scorers. Her strong backchecking and goal scoring prowess will be needed if the team hopes to have success in playoffs.
Veteran player Emma Chamberlain has rounded into form and provides excellent board play as well as creative playmaking in the offensive end. Her size and strength will be an advantage throughout playoffs.
Another veteran player, Jordan McLean, has proven to be a leader on and off the ice with her great attitude and consistent play each and every night which resulted in her nomination to assistant captain. Her soft hands and effortless skating stride are key elements to her game.
Newcomer Carly McDonald has proven to be a spitfire on the ice and has steadily became a trusted penalty killer. She can be counted on to chip in offensively coming up with key goals in big games.
Sidney King has once again proven that she has a knack for being in the right place at the right time in front of the net and is a lead-by-example type player who takes great pride in improving her skills game in and game out.
Jenna Lagoutte was a nice addition at the midway point of the season and her super attitude has earned her the coaches’ respect and admiration. She is always smiling and is really starting to elevate her game play as playoffs begin.
Jaeden Simpson, a first-year player, has continually improved and has really started to get strong on the puck, making some key breakout passes and clearing the puck from the defensive zone.
The Lakers head into a round-robin playoff format which will see them play Rimbey and Maskwacis for a chance to play for the consolation banner. As the season wraps up the girls will head to a tournament in Onoway to end the season in late March.
They begin playoffs against Rimbey at 9:30 Sunday morning in Sylvan Lake.