Midget AA Lightning Silver Medalists at Provincial Championships, News, Midget AA, 2014-2015 (Saugeen Maitland Lightning)

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Midget AA Lightning Silver Medalists at Provincial Championships
Submitted By Rob Duncan on Sunday, April 12, 2015
The Saugeen Maitland Midget AA Lightning came within a game of heading to Red Deer next week to participate in the Esso Cup as Ontario’s representative in the Canadian Midget Girls Hockey Championships.  The Bolts claimed the Silver medal as second place finishers at the Ontario Provincial Championships in the Midget AA division, the pinnacle for women’s hockey for 15, 16 and 17 year olds.

The Lightning started their tournament Thursday evening with a 3-0 win over their division rivals, the Guelph Junior Gryphons.  The Lightning were dominant throughout, but the three goals were scored within a 5 minute window of the second period.  Lexi Smith opened the scoring with helpers from Taylor MacDonald and Brooke Schroeder.  Madison Davey then scored from Kelsey Dixon and Natalie Nixon.  Smith then closed out the scoring with assists granted to MacDonald and Cassidy Mason.  Rebecca Ropp was strong in net, stopping all Guelph shots to earn the shutout. 

The Bolts faced the Etobicoke Dolphins Friday afternoon in their second game of the tournament and came up on the short end of a 2-1 score, despite outshooting their opponents nearly 2-1.  Neve VanPelt scored the only goal for the Lightning, with helpers going to Avery Reeves and Maddie Duncan.  In their third game of the round-robin, the Lightning desperately needed a win to advance further in the tournament.  The Bolts showed their true colours, posting a 2-1 victory over the Thunder Bay Queens to claim first in their pool and a spot in the play-off round.  Hannah Herman scored from the point on a power-play from defense partner Erin Near and Smith.  Mason bulged the twine shortly thereafter with assists to Jocelyn Ballantyne and Smith.

Saturday afternoon the Lightning were pitted against the Ottawa Ice in the first elimination game of the tournament play-off.  The Bolts made short work of the Ice, defeating the Ottawa District league champions 3-1.  Kaitlyn Chagnon was solid in net, only getting beat once late in the game on an Ottawa power-play.  Katie Heath opened the scoring in the first period with assists from line-mates VanPelt and Reeves.  Smith scored her 3rd of the tournament early in the third period with helpers from Ballantyne and Near.  MacDonald closed out the scoring for the Lightning, potting a pretty goal on the power-play from Dixon and Davey.  The win meant the Lightning would face the Oakville Hornets in the Quarter Finals with a chance to avenge their loss to the Hornets at the Sarnia Silver Stick final in February.  In a great team effort and a nail-biter for the fans, the Bolts prevailed with a 2-1 win in the first period of overtime.  Avery Reeves scored the first two of her clutch goals on the weekend, the first in the second period to tie the game from Heath and Duncan and her second in the first overtime period on a long lead pass from MacDonald.  Ropp stood on her head in the Lightning net, giving her team a chance to complete the comeback in overtime.

If the Lightning fans had any finger nails left from Saturday, they were gone on Sunday as the Bolts were involved in a marathon of a game versus the Sault Ste. Marie Wildcats in the semi-finals.  VanPelt opened the scoring in the first period from Near and Herman, but the Wildcats took the lead and held it until late in the third.  Reeves scored with just 45 seconds left in regulation, the last goal until 8 overtime periods later when Reeves scored again to give the Lightning the win and a berth in the gold medal game.  VanPelt, Heath and Near assisted on the two Reeves’ goals.  Chagnon made some key saves in the overtime periods to give the Lightning a chance for the win.  Unfortunately, the 11 periods of hockey and only 2 hours off before the tournament final took a toll on the girls.  The relatively well-rested Sudbury Wolves handed the Bolts a 4-1 loss in the tournament final to claim the right to represent Ontario in Red Deer at the National Midget Girls Championships.  MacDonald scored the only goal for the Lightning in the final.

This group of girls represented Mid-Western Ontario with great talent and hard work and were known as a team that no one wanted to face in an elimination game.  This year’s team consisted of goaltenders Rebecca Ropp (Milverton) and Kaitlyn Chagnon (Clinton).  Defencemen Maddie Duncan (Kincardine), Taylor MacDonald (Mount Forest), Hannah Herman (Ayton), Erin Near (New Hamburg), Brooke Schroeder (Bayfield) and Natalie Nixon (Durham).  Forwards Neve VanPelt (Mitchell), Lexi Smith (Brussels), Avery Reeves (Mount Forest), Mel Nolan (Dublin), Kelsey Dixon (Stratford), Katie Heath (Elora), Madison Davey (Mitchell), Cassidy Mason (Owen Sound) and Jocelyn Ballantyne (Stratford).  The region is proud to call them our daughters and representatives of the future of girls’ hockey in our area.

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