By CHARLES TWEED
The Wetaskiwin midget female team might be able to give the Oilers a run for their money right now.
Wetaskiwin was strong all year and were buoyed by five girls from Ponoka: Tara Smith, Alyssa Goodwin, Carly French, Denesha Dorman and Brooke Van Wolde.
Three girls from Hobbema also play on the team and go to school in Ponoka: Kristie Ward, Kristen Swampy and Jacky Bruno.
“The girls were from so many communities but I think it really helped the girls. There was a core group but they were all so accepting and I think that was the strength of the team,” said manager Joan Van Wolde.
The team finished the regular season with an impressive 21-2-1 record, good for top spot in the league and 11 points better than Red Deer, their closest competition.
The girls finished the season with the most goals for with 123 — 31 more than Olds, the next closest, and tied for the fewest goals against at 46.
The wins put the girls in the North Central Minor Hockey League’s final against Red Deer.
Game 1 was played in Red Deer on March 19 and after one period of play the game was tied 1-1. Molly Ballhorn scored the lone Wetaskiwin goal, assisted by Ward and Bruno.
Wetaskiwin would give up a lead just 39 seconds into the second but responded with two of their own to take the lead 3-2 after two. Kristie Ward scored both markers.
In the third, Red Deer came out strong and scored two back to back goals to regain the lead. Wetaskiwin would answer off the stick of Jacky Bruno but would give the lead back with just four minutes left. Despite good pressure down the stretch the game ended in a 5-4 loss for Wetaskiwin.
The second and final game was played the following night, March 20, in the Wetaskiwin Civic Centre Twin Arenas.
Wetaskiwin started strong, scoring with two minutes left in the opening frame to take a 1-0 lead into the break.
In the second, Red Deer scored twice to take the lead 2-1.
The third was a defensive battle and Wetaskiwin was unable to get anything by the Red Deer goaltender, falling 2-1. Jennifer Huo was impressive in net taking the loss. giving up only two goals on 31 shots, good for a .935 save percentage.
The loss meant Wetaskiwin finished second in the league and although they were gunning to bring a banner home, it was a very successful season.
The season hasn’t come to an end yet either.
The midget girls will travel to Barrhead to play in provincials from March 24 to 27.
“The girls are really excited to go to provincials and most of them it will be the first time at a provincials. I believe we have a good chance of finishing first or second in our pool and that gets you into the playoffs. And I don’t want to make a prediction but if we can get into the playoffs then anything can happen,” said Van Wolde.