Ross Royals take aim at playing at Hespeler

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

CAMBRIDGE – The 10th-seeded Ross Royals have the simple goal of playing at the Hespeler Memorial Arena Thursday on the second day of the 16-team, three-day OFSAA provincial high school girls’ AAA championship tournament.

The Royals had a win and a tie Wednesday at the Cambridge Sports Park arena on the opening day of the tournament and that kept them in contention for moving into Thursday afternoon’s quarter-finals that are to be played at Hespeler.

“It’s a four-team pool so we can’t afford to lose even a win so to come out with a tie and a win, we’re in a good position,” Ross coach Ted Wilson said.

“We did pretty well,” Ross forward Olivia Sarabura said. “The first game I feel like we could’ve won, but I’m still happy with a tie because we came back with both goals so it was still really good to come out with a tie instead of a loss.”

The Royals control their destiny as a win or tie in their final game of pool play will give them a berth in the playoff round.

“We play the strongest team (in the pool Thursday) and we’re hoping to win that game,” Wilson said. “We want to decide our own fate.”

Top two in each of four pools in the preliminary round gain berths in the playoff round. The third-seeded Brooklin Bears lead the pool after scoring two wins Wednesday while the Royals are second and the fifth-seeded Chatham-Kent Golden Hawks are third with a loss and a tie. The 16th-seeded Sacred Heart Huskies of Stittsville are fourth with two losses and can’t qualify for the playoff round.

The pool’s final games are set for Thursday morning with the Royals playing Brooklin and Chatham-Kent playing Sacred Heart.

Wednesday, the Royals tied Chatham-Kent 2-2 and edged Sacred Heart 3-2. Brooklin downed Sacred Heart 3-1 and edged Chatham-Kent 1-0.

To advance, the Royals know they’ll have to get back to the team play that helped them claim both the District 10 and CWOSSA titles.

“Sometimes we seem to have too much individual effort which is uncharacteristic of this team,” Wilson said. “We have such good team play, but we get into a situation where the girls think that they’re in a desperate situation and they want to do it all themselves as individuals by just a lack of communication sometimes on the ice. We turned that around later in (Wednesday’s second game) and they started to play as a team like they usually do.”

The Ross girls could also have been battling a case of the jitters from being the school’s first team to reach the provincial tournament in girls’ AAA hockey.

“We’re still not through to the quarter-final yet and we still have to decide our own fate (Thursday),” Wilson said. “The game this morning we came back from two deficits to tie it up and that showed good character. I think in this game (against Sacred Heart) I think maybe we took these guys a little too lightly and we can learn from that and come out a lot stronger (Thursday).”

The Royals came from behind twice to tie Chatham-Kent as the Golden Hawks had the lone goal of the first period and Ross tied it with the only goal of the second. Chatham-Kent went ahead again midway through the third and Ross evened the score with just over four minutes to go.

Sarabura scored both goals for the Royals and both were power-play markers. Claire Kelteborn, Keegan Camp and Taylor Doyle each had an assist.

Payton Sabourin and Bailey Stewart each had a goal and an assist for Chatham-Kent while Reese Parks also picked up an assist.

Ross was whistled for two minor penalties in the match while Chatham-Kent took six minor penalties.

The Royals also came from behind to edge Sacred Heart in a game that might come back to haunt them. The Royals had a big edge in territorial play and the margin should have been larger than a single goal. If Ross and Chatham-Kent finish in a tie, the goals-for-and-against margin could be the factor that breaks the tie.

“We were definitely on top of them for the whole game and it should have scored a lot more goals and I think that was a cause of frustration and reverting to individual play,” Wilson said. “As the game progressed, we started to play better, but we should’ve beaten this team by a wider score.”

“I’m a bit frustrated with a bunch of the chances we had, but in the end we did win,” Sarabura said. “It’s still good. It was a bit frustrating, but it’s still a win so it’s all good.”

Sacred Heart opened the scoring 69 seconds into the match before Ross took the lead with a pair of goals in the first two and a half minutes of the second period. The Royals scored again four minutes into the third, then gave up a power-play goal with 1:03 to play.

Courtney Phillips, Camp and Aniela Breen had the goals for Ross while assists were awarded to Skylar Simm, Annie Lambkin, Breen, Emily Knight, Emma Walker and Camp.

Jamie Aspropotamaitis and Tori Ellis connected for a goal apiece for Sacred Heart while Anna Tate, Amy Doherty and Hillary Stirling each had an assist.

The teams were each assessed four minor penalties.

“We just need to rest up and make sure we’re properly hydrated and things like that because I feel in the last game it came down to the third period and we were tired,” Sarabura said. “If we have all that energy, I feel like we’ll do a lot better.”

The Royals and Brooklin are to complete Pool C play Thursday at 10 a.m. at Cambridge Sports Park, half an hour after Chatham-Kent and Sacred Heart start their match on the adjacent rink.

“We just need to keep doing what we’re doing,” Sarabura said. “Even if they do get up by a goal which has happened these past two days, we’ve got to keep going and not stop. We need to have good positivity on the bench and I think we’ll do just fine.”

The first-place team in the pool is to play at 3 p.m. at Hespeler against the second-place finisher in Pool D while Pool C’s second-place finisher is to play Pool D’s first-place finisher at 2:30 p.m. at Hespeler.

Fourth-seeded Eastview Wildcats of Barrie lead Pool D at 2-0-0 while ninth-seeded Notre-Dame Alouettes of Sudbury and 15th-seeded Holy Cross Crusaders of Kingston are tied for second at 1-1-0 and six-seeded St. Peter Saints of Peterborough are fourth at 0-4-0.