The U14 Timmins Tornadoes simply weren’t going to be denied the opportunity of a lifetime.
The host Tornadoes skated to a 6-2 victory over the Gloucester-Cumberland Devils to claim the U14 Provincial ‘A’ Ringette Championship title at the Archie Dillon Sportsplex on Sunday.
Hailey Brousseau, Kara D’Arcangelo and Magalie Durepos-Létourneau scored in the first half, while Émilie Viel netted a pair of near-identical breakaway goals in the second half to ensure a banner for the hosts in Timmins’ first-ever chance to welcome the tournament.
Karine Trudel had the other marker for Timmins in the victory, while Lorence Daviault and Ally Alvarado provided all the Devils’ offence in the first half.
“I’m just very proud of the girls,” said U14 Tornadoes head coach Jason Brousseau. “After last year, when we were ranked No. 1 also going in and came out with a fifth-place finish, this core of girls really worked hard; they did all their dryland training and spin classes. All the hard work finally paid off and they came home with the gold medal.”
Whether it was Viel, Durepos-Létourneau, Trudel or Marie Bourdages-Côté putting the ring in the net for Timmins all weekend, the play often started with speed and precision passing from the back end from stalwart defenders such as Amelia Melançon and Gabrièle Larocque.
They were both part of the Tornadoes’ 2014 U12 championship-winning group in Sault Ste. Marie, but Larocque said the memory of close to 500 cheering fans lifting the roof off the Sportsplex on home ice will stay with her forever.
“At the end, when everyone was cheering and we finished and the buzzer went off, we all came together, our sticks and gloves dropped everywhere,” said Larocque. “We were so happy.
“We remembered winning two years ago, so we wanted to do it again at home.”
Larocque will be sticking around with the U14 squad to defend the team’s title next season, while Melançon will be moving up with most of her current teammates to the U16 group.
“We did great,” said Melançon. “We played as well as we could, we did everything right, and I think that’s why we won.”
The U14 Tornadoes lost only two games all season — once in the gold-medal game of a tournament earlier in the year, and once to the No. 2-ranked Forest Xtreme this past Friday.
The favoured Tornadoes were only up 3-2 after one half, with the impressive and enthusiastic home crowd having at least a small effect on the young players’ nerves.
But early in the second half, Viel streaked in alone on Devils goaltender Gillian Howell and lifted a fierce backhander up and into the left corner of the net.
After Trudel scored on a fluky shot from far out that slid slowly past a screened Howell, it felt like déja-vu all over again for the hundreds packed into the Sportsplex. Viel took a long stretch pass from Melançon, sped in alone — and lifted a fierce backhander up and into the left corner of the net — for her second of the evening.
Timmins goalie Adèle Larochelle and her defenders did the rest, rarely giving Gloucester-Cumberland a sniff at the net in the second half.
“I think our coach, he talked to us and said one of the big things we needed was to control in the offensive zone,” explained Larocque. “I think we started controlling it, we had more control with our shots.”
No one would have blamed Timmins’ other goaltender, Émilie Robert, if the championship celebration might have felt bittersweet. The netminder was in line to share duties with Larochelle this weekend before Robert broke her wrist in a snowboarding accident two weeks ago.
But far from letting it keep her down, Robert was front and centre among the celebrations with a smile on her face.
“I liked how I was able to be part of the team and be on the bench and everything,” said Robert. “It was still a great time.”
“Honestly, we had a very strong team. Two years ago (when we won the U12 provincial title), we had almost the same team, so we know each other well and we just had a strong bond. I found that helped us.”
Courtesy of Timmins Daily Press