Bantam battle lines were drawn for local bragging rights at the Okotoks Female Hockey Classic.
The Bantam B all-Okotoks final saw Gold edge Green 2-1 to claim the banner in a prolific weekend at the 10th annual tournament which saw 11 of the 15 local competitors compete in the championship game.
“I know almost every girl and one is my best friend because we’ve all played with them before,” said Okotoks Gold goalie Brittany Beach. “It’s nerve-racking, but I had a team to support me and it feels great when your team is just working their butt off.
“Everyone was really nervous, but we all wanted it so bad.”
Gold struck for two goals in just over two minutes in the second period through Taiya Duffy and Nicole Sherman to take control of the final. Okotoks Green broke the shutout in the final 40 seconds of regulation.
The friendly rivalry was put to the side with gold on the line.
“The motivation is certainly there, it’s internal,” said Okotoks Gold head coach Darcy Bishop. “There is bragging rights on the school ground or around the community. To have them raise their effort level, it was not that difficult to get them going .”
Okotoks Gold finished tops in the division with a 3-0 mark in pool play, picking up victories over Calgary, Maskwacis Hawks and Okotoks Green by the same 2-1 score.
“It gives us a big boost of confidence,” Beach said. “Winning against them can give us that boost that we can beat any team.”
Bantam proved to be a winning division for Okotoks.
The Bantam A Oilers capped an undefeated tournament with a 3-1 triumph over the Regina Shamrocks backstopped by stellar goaltending from Ellen Poelzer on Sunday.
The visitors equalized early in the third period only to have the Shamrocks luck run out as Okotoks mounted a two-goal comeback.
“What was key for us was unity as a team, selfless play,” said head coach Richard Glubish. “The girls play really well together and they understand they’re going to win together.”
Okotoks picked up round-robin victories over Regina and Stettler along with a tie versus Warburg to book its ticket to the championship game.
“One thing we don’t have to worry about is their enthusiasm, they all have a love and a passion for the game,” Glubish said. “That comes with bonding early in the season.
“This starts us on a high. Winning in our home rink, in our house, that’s important to the girls.”
In the Peewee A ranks Okotoks proved to be too much to handle.
Okotoks pulled off a dominant competition with 18 goals for and just one against in skating to the gold medal.
Goaltender Hannah Saunders was dynamite in between the pipes in allowing just one goal in four games.
The Oilers blanked Calgary 3-0 in the tournament final.
“The good thing about our team is we’re solid throughout,” said Peewee A head coach Mel Crowson. “We’ve got three strong lines and three sets of strong D and a strong goaltender and they all work hard. We try and make it difficult for the other teams to get to our end.
“Our kids really like to compete and so far it’s been working really well.”
Okotoks White captured the silver medal in the six-team Peewee B division. Okotoks Gold and Green finished third and fourth, respectively.
Okotoks put in a flawless performance in Atom.
The Atom A Oilers struck gold in a 3-0 triumph over Saskatoon in the championship game Sunday morning at the Piper Arena.
The Oilers’ title conquest was built on the foundation of pressure hockey.
“Put pressure on the team. We’ve been working with our girls hard to attack with two players and keep a player high,” said Okotoks Atom A head coach Jamie McGregor. “They did it all on their own, it’s a great group of girls in there.
“They play smart hockey, play hard hockey and they want to win.”
Goaltender Erika Finney earned the shutout in the gold-medal game.
Alli McGregor, Bretlyn Harding and Maisie Kozak provided the offence in the victory over Saskatoon.
Okotoks did not give up a goal in three tournament games, blanking Calgary 4-0 and dispatching St. Albert by a 2-0 score to finish first in pool play.
The Oilers also took home the Novice tournament crown.
Okotoks Green snapped Lethbridge’s undefeated run with a 3-2 victory in the final.
Elsewhere Okotoks earned the silver in Atom B after posting a 4-0 record through round-robin. Calgary edged the hosts 2-1 in the championship game.
In Atom House, Okotoks White and Okotoks Green were third and fourth-place finishers.
At the Midget level, Okotoks finished third in Midget B and fourth in Midget A.
All told, the Oilers had 11 of its 15 teams skate in a final in the milestone tournament.
“I like the development and the way it’s going,” Bishop said. “With positive development and success I think enrolment has gone up and it’s enriching for all the young ladies.”
For more information go to okotoksfemalehockey.com