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Treasure Trove: Still plenty of hockey to be played — along with a boatload of other sports

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Published Apr 07, 2023  •  5 minute read

Players from the Nickel City Junior Sons U13 AAA team celebrate their championship win over the Soo Junior Greyhounds. Players from the Nickel City Junior Sons U13 AAA team celebrate their championship win over the Soo Junior Greyhounds. Photo by Supplied

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By now, even the most casual of local hockey fans is aware that the 2022-23 season for the Sudbury Wolves has come to an end, eliminated in the first round of the OHL playoffs by the Peterborough Petes.

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Some of those same folks might, however, be able to remind the Sudbury hockey faithful that the NOJHL second-round series between the Soo Thunderbirds and the Greater Sudbury Cubs is still in full swing, the Lock City crew having drawn first blood with a 5-2 win in Sudbury on Thursday night.

But it’s a much smaller portion of the hockey population that can also elaborate at length on the more than a small handful of local teams still active on the ice, facing some of the very best competition that Ontario has to offer between now and the start of May.

On Tuesday at noon, coach Corey Crane and the Nickel City U13 AAA Sons will open play at the all-Ontario U13 AAA hockey championships, facing the Kenora Thistles in Thunder Bay. The Sons gained entry into the seven-team event after surviving an extended push from the Soo Junior Greyhounds, capturing the best-of-five affair with a 3-1 triumph in Game 5 a couple of weekends back in Chelmsford.

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After watching the series see-saw back and forth — the Sons claimed victory in Game 1, 3-2, and 3, 6-3, but dropped Game 2, 4-3, and 4, 4-2 — the locals rose to the occasion when it mattered the most, receiving a two-goal effort from Cooper Niquet and a solo marker from Dacey Dupuis in qualifying for the provincial showdown.

While expectations are somewhat more modest a little further south, the Sudbury U15 AAA Nickel Capitals will make their way to Sault Ste. Marie, also this week, the second NOHA entry into the All-Ontario tournament that also features the Elgin-Middlesex Canucks, Thunder Bay Kings, Upper Canada Cyclones, Vaughan Kings, York-Simcoe Express and the host Junior Greyhounds.

Though the Nickel Capitals did not fare particularly well against their counterparts from the Sault this year, they did manage to get a bit of extra confidence courtesy of a 2-0 win of championship weekend as Mason Walker and Ashton Pitawanakwat scored in support of the shutout netminding of Kalia Pharand.

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Mind you, the Hounds came back to take the final two games by scores of 6-2 and 5-2 and have proven themselves reasonably competitive against some of the best in the province, sitting 12th in My Hockey Rankings.

Of course, next weekend is also the traditional mid-April setting for the OWHA provincials in and around the GTA, with no fewer than nine Sudbury Lady Wolves teams in attendance: U18 A, U18 B, U15 AA, U15 A, U15 C, U13 AA, U13 BB, U13 B and U11 A.

Hopes are high that there could be a least a couple of medal-winning performances from this crew, with the U18 A, U11 A and U15 C squads all having enjoyed a great deal of tournament success this year.

The following weekend, April 21-23, sees the Ontario Hockey Federation championships taking place with the Nickel City U13 AA Junior Sons making their way to Barrie. The talented young crew posted an unblemished 20-0-0 mark in Nickel District Minor Hockey League play this winter and then endured a minor blip in recording a 4-4 tie with the North Bay Trappers as part of a 5-0-1 TC weekend that culminated with a 7-2 win over the Timmins North Stars in the final.

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To boot, their tournament record, which included an appearance at the International Silver Stick in January, has been solid enough to see the U13 AA Junior Sons slip into the top 10 in My Hockey, their sixth-place status leaving them behind a couple of teams that are expected to join them in Timmins in two weeks time.

And that’s just with hockey.

The simple truth is that in a great many sports, April is the month for provincials.

Taking full advantage of the 58-court setup that the Enecare Centre in Toronto can provide, the Ontario Volleyball Association has managed to condense what was a full month of weekend events (some of which carried over to the weekdays) into a stretch of provincial tournament play that will run from April 20 to 25.

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All of which means a whole lot of Northern Chill Volleyball Club bodies making their way to the Big Smoke come the end of the month as the local contingent that is nearly 20 teams strong looks to secure some hardware to bring north.

The same story applies, sort of, to the local rep basketball groups as both the Sudbury Greater Basketball Association and the Sudbury Jam will be sending representatives off to outposts across Ontario (some have already competed and returned), with provincial tournament play on the hardcourt extending right through until the month of May.

Still with basketball, Sudbury natives Syla and Savannah Swords and the Long Island Lutheran High School crew from New York advanced to the final of the GEICO Nationals 2023 in Fort Myers, Fla., settling for silver with a loss at the hands of the Montverde Academy Eagles, a team whose roster includes representation from Japan, Sweden, Brazil, Nigeria, Lithuania and Trinidad, as well as six different states covering an area from Connecticut to California.

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Closer to home, SportLink – Greater Sudbury Sport Council was thrilled to find out that thanks to the support of Blind Hockey Canada, the local group will be able to host another Try Blind Hockey event sometime in May, this one open to participants from right across Northern Ontario.

And when it comes to celebrating local sports, few events do it better than the annual House of Kin Sports Hall of Fame Dinner, returning after a three-year hiatus with a group of 15 new inductees from the classed of 2020 and 2022, to be feted on June 14 at the Caruso Club.

Further information on this event is available through Randy Pascal at info@sudburysports.com.

Randy Pascal’s Treasure Trove column is a regular feature in the Sudbury Star Sports section.

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