Ice Chips & Canoe Quips

Island volleyball

The Manitoulin Mustang Senior girls’ volleyball team are on an impressive run into their season. The bump, set and spike squad are on a super impressive undefeated start to their season. Coached by Mike Wesno the team has been progressing over the years to put this impressive squad on the court.

In elementary circles, the next Mustang volleyball teams will be competing for the Island Championships this Thursday. In an unprecedented run of bad luck the tournament has now been postponed twice! Originally scheduled for December 14, the Manitoulin wide power outage scuttled that one. The next date, January 11, was waylaid by a snow-day. The final decision was to cancel the fun and unique co-ed tournament in lieu of the boys’ and girls’ tournament this Thursday (January 18th) in Little Current for the girls’ event and at the Wikwemikong School for the boys’ competition.

Island, Sons compete!

After a lengthy respite from competition over the holiday break, Sam Assinewai, Carson Shawana and Liam Bridgeman and their Nickel City Sons Minor Bantam “AAA” team were off to Buffalo to compete in the North American Cup tournament this past weekend.  After opening with a fast, hard fought 3 -1 win against the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, the NCS side found themselves in another high-speed, tough tilt against the Oakland (Michigan) Jr. Grizzlies.  The Sons dominated the game, spending the majority of each period, including the bulk of the third, in the Grizzlies zone. Yet it was the Grizzlies who broke the 1 – 1 tie, on a rebound after a lucky bounce lead to a 2 on 1. Though only Oakland’s second shot of the frame, it was a back breaker, and late in the third. Despite a full 3 minute all out surge with goalie pulled, it ended a 2 – 1 NCS loss.

Given the format and number of teams at the tournament, that loss left NCS desperate to win Saturday’s game No. 3 against the West Seneca Wings. This one was a real treat for fans, as passersby stopped and stayed to watch the incredibly fast, physical and exciting display the teams put on. Again handily outplaying their opponent, out-shooting them 19 – 2 in the second period alone, the hockey gods yet again refused to smile on the Sons. A post here, a shot through the goalie that rolled on edge wide there, the frustration was building when Sam spotted winger Liam open at the back door. Sam delivered a beautiful pass through legs and over sticks that bobbled a little on Liam, but he quickly settled it and let fly as the diminutive keeper flung his arm across the net in desperation. Remarkably, the shot was caught, and while the momentum clearly sent the goalie’s glove into the net and over the line, the USA Hockey mandated 2 man refereeing system left no official in position to make the call, so the incredible save kept it scoreless. Then in the third, against the flow of the entire game, a returning West Seneca penalized player snuck out behind the Sons’ defense, caught the breakaway pass and scored the first goal of the game. The Wings then added an empty netter to solidify their 2 – 0 win and seal NCS’s fate. With 2 losses, Nickel City was out.

That left the Sons with a late Saturday night game against the hometown Junior Sabres (USA No. 6), a game NCS strove to win to knock the local side out.  NCS Coach Blanchard used the game to shuffle his lines a bit, and with Liam joining Sam at centre, the NCS side now had 2 of their 3 lines centered by Manitoulin Minor/Panther alumni. And what a game the team played. Another swiftly skated, hard hitting tilt that saw Carson deliver several of his patented bone-crushing heart stoppers. The Junior Sabres were full value for their ranking though, and were up 2 – 1 then 3 – 1 after netting a couple lucky bounces. Buffalo looked to be walking to a 4 – 2 win late in the third when Liam sprung winger Brayden Lafrance up the middle to score a top shelf backhand beauty to make it 4 – 3.  Again pressing with an empty net, the Sons could not break through despite significant pressure and had to settle for a disappointing but respectable 4-3 loss.

Sam, Carson, Liam and their NCS teammates should hold their heads high after leaving everything on the ice in each game they played. As any fan of the game knows all too well, despite many Hollywood storylines, you don’t always get the result you earn.

All call for Winterfest women!

The Little Current Lions Club is seeking a woman’s hockey team to round out the women’s division team play at the annual Winterfest tournament, February 2-4. The cost to play is $450 and the fun includes a free live band Friday night and a dance Saturday night.

To inquire or register, please contact Alicia at editor@manitoulin.ca or 705-929-3101.

A good sport is good for sports. chipstoquips@gmail.com