LONG SAULT — You’ve got to love the occasional certainty in sports.
For the St. Joseph’s Panthers, there’s this one: they appreciate any opportunity to hit the ice.
“We’re just excited to play, whenever we can,” said Panthers girls’ team player Mikeala Coleman, after St. Joseph’s beat the Char-Lan Crusaders 2-0 to clinch first place this regular season, at the fourth and final tournament that was held Wednesday morning in Long Sault.
There’s been plenty of uncertainty this year, the rotating teachers’ strikes and work-to-rules requiring quite a scheduling stickhandling by sports organizers, and in the case of high school hockey in SDG, it’s been on Keith Dickson’s plate – he coaches both St. Joseph’s team and is convener for both leagues.
Panthers’ players, Coleman said, appreciate the efforts of everyone trying to organize a decent season.
“They work hard for us,” she said. “They have to plan it all out.”
Here’s the plan going forward on the girls’ side: the playoff tournament will hopefully be held Feb. 26 in Long Sault, the Panthers playing Char-Lan in one of the sudden-death semifinals, and the Tagwi Warriors meeting the Holy Trinity Falcons in the other.
Coleman is hopeful the 7-1 Panthers’ season success will translate to playoff day.
“We felt we played well and worked hard this season,” Coleman said. “Every game has been hard, all of the teams are good. . . we just want to keep playing hard and hopefully we’ll get the results.”
Against a Char-Lan team that struggled to generate scoring chances, the Panthers took a very early lead in the first period on a goal from Ella MacGregor less than two minutes in.
Leah Whelan provided an insurance marker midway in the second period – she sniped one from the hash mark at the inside of the circle – and the Panthers went on to get a shutout from the goaltending tandem of Avery Brown and Myelina Forget.
All three games resulted in 2-0 scores, Tagwi with an early morning win over Glengarry, and Char-Lan late in the morning defeating the Gaels.
Not all teams played the same number of games, and a points percentage calculation was made to determine positions and seedings for the playoffs.
After all of the calculations were made on the boys’ side, the Panthers – with a record of 8-1-1 – finished first, and will play Holy Trinity in the first semifinal on SDG championship day in Long Sault on Feb. 25. The other semifinal will have Char-Lan meet Tagwi.
St. Joseph’s and Char-Lan both had 17 points, but the Panthers get the first-place nod based on head-to-head results against the Crusaders.
As for the rest of the pack, La Citadelle after the final tournament sat in third spot, but the Patriotes have not been playing varsity sports in recent weeks, so Tagwi ended up at that rung There was a fourth-place tie in points between Seaway and Holy Trinity; the Falcons got the nod on the points percentage calculation.