Speed big asset for Hubbard Pharmacy Bantam girls‘B’ team finalists in Stratford Aces’ Festival Cup this past weekend
By Pat Payton
Team speed is a big asset for the Hubbard Pharmacy Bantam ‘B’ girls hockey team, says first-year head coach Liz Simpson.
“We’re a fast team; we need to use our speed . . . that’s kind of our secret weapon,” Simpson said in a recent interview with the Independent. “That’s the strongest part to our breakout and getting past the other team’s defence.”
This year, the Hubbard Bantams are competing in the Lower Lakes Female Hockey League (LLFHL). As of last week, St. Marys was 4-2-1 and in third place in the LLFHL West standings, behind only Sarnia Lady Sting (5-0-3) and South Huron Sabres (6-1-0). The Rock are also the least-penalized team in the eight-team division, with just 12 penalty minutes in seven league games.
Other teams in the West division are: Lambeth Lancers, Wallaceburg Lakers, Lucan Irish, Bluewater Hawks and West Oxford.
Last year, the Bantam girls had a strong season as a ‘C’ team. This season, the team is comprised of mostly second-year players, with three first-year skaters.
“This is a new league for us in ‘B’, and we’ve had to step up our game a little bit,” coach Simpson said. “We’re noticing that it’s a little more competitive, a little faster, and definitely more aggressive. Something we’re working on, in addition to our speed, is just being really hard on our sticks and being aggressive at the same time.
“The (recent) Mitchell tournament was an eye-opener for us,” Simpson continued. “It was good to see who we were playing against this year and we played some good teams.
“We didn’t have any blow-outs, but we learned that we had to be strong on our sticks and make good passes, and hang onto the puck and make a good play.”
The Hubbard Pharmacy Bantam 'B' girls played some inspired hockey this past weekend and reached the championship game of the annual Stratford Aces' Festival Cup tournament. The Bantams won three games and tied two others before losing a hard-fought 1-0 decision to Woolwich Wild Sunday afternoon at the Allman Arena. (Contributed photo)
Captain Taylor sparks attack
The Hubbard Bantams are led by their captain and hard-working centre Lydia Taylor. Taylor and her teammates were at their forechecking best during a recent home game against Bluewater.
St. Marys had all the quality scoring chances, but had to settle for a 0-0 league tie.
The Rock dominated the entire contest, and had numerous point-blank opportunities, but couldn’t get a puck past the Hawks’ goalie who was under siege all night.
Finalists in Festival Cup
This past weekend, the Hubbard Bantam girls competed in the annual Stratford Aces’ Festival Cup and played some inspired hockey. The Rock played Lambeth Lancers, Wilmot (New Hamburg) Wolverines, Twin Centre Hericanes and Woolwich Wild in round-robin action, and three of the games were played at the PRC.
In their opening game Friday morning, St. Marys and Lambeth skated to a hard-fought 2-2 tie.
The Rock erased an early Lancers’ lead with two second-period goals--just 16 seconds apart. The goals came off the sticks of Julia Cameron and Madison Aarts, with Emily Shrubsole and Megan Morning drawing assists. Lambeth tied it with a powerplay tally early in the third.
“I think we played great today,” coach Simpson said afterwards. “It was good to see our girls come out really strong. We play Lambeth in league play and I knew we had to come out hard.
“I told the girls to keep shooting the puck, nothing fancy, just stick to the basics.”
In their second game Friday afternoon, the Hubbard Bantams defeated Wilmot Wolverines 1-0 in Stratford. The Bantam Rock then posted another 1-0 victory Saturday morning, this time against Twin Centre. Emily Shrubsole’s second-period goal was the winner, from Audrey Littlejohn.
In their fourth and final round-robin game Saturday afternoon, the Hubbard squad skated to a 1-1 tie with Woolwich. It left St. Marys with a 2-0-2 won-loss-tied record, earning the Rock a berth in the semi-finals Sunday morning in Stratford.
In that game, Simpson’s charges blew away the Bluewater Hawks 6-0, sending the team to the Cup final against Woolwich (Elmira area) Sunday afternoon. Julia Cameron scored twice against Bluewater, and Emma Luyten again picked up her third shutout of the weekend.
In the final at the Allman Arena, the Hubbard Bantams suffered their first loss of the weekend--a narrow 1-0 decision to the Wild.
“We battled until the end against a very strong Woolwich team,” coach Simpson summed up. “We stepped up our game during the entire tournament and I'm looking forward to continuing this in league play.”
2018-19 team roster
The Hubbard Pharmacy Bantam ‘B’ roster for 2018-19 is as follows: Emma Luyten, Anna Standeaven, Meghan Keene, Lydia Taylor, Emily Shrubsole, Megan Morning, Madison Aarts, Audrey Littlejohn, Julia Cameron, Lauren Gracey, Josie Corby, Vanessa Vernooy and Brooklyn Chadwick.
Head coach Liz Simpson, assistant coach Nicole Barber, trainer Jill O’Keefe, assistant trainer Brittany Bilyea, and assistant/goalie coach Janet Edye.
--The St. Marys Bantam ‘C’ girls team, sponsored by A.B.S. Tracs Inc., won their division at the Festival Cup this past weekend. The Bantams, who are coached by Don Scott, defeated Lucan in the final.
--The Hubbard ‘B’ Bantams are also entered in a tournament in Huntsville early in the New Year.