Doors set to open on 2012-2013 SFMAAAHL season
Saturday, September 29th marked the opening night of the seventh season in the history of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League with games in Prince Albert and Melville. Eight teams will begin the season with hopes of claiming the Fedoruk Cup at the conclusion of the 28 game schedule and three playoff rounds. Based on preseason action, a number of teams looked poised to compete for top spot in the highly competitive league.
Notre Dame Hounds
Last Year’s Finish – 1st, 48 Points, League Champions
Head Coach: Tamara Pickford
The Notre Dame Hounds are looking for a new start with the 2012-13 season. The Hounds return only one player from last year’s championship squad and they will build their team from the net out. Laura Wiebe (96) returns to the Hounds’ net after posting a .948 save percentage and .81 goals against average to finish first in the league in both categories. Wiebe will be joined in net by another veteran SFMAAAHL goaltender, Summer Roberts (96) who has previous experience in the Saskatoon Stars net during the 2010-11 season.
Up front the Hounds will look to Olivia Ellis as she moves to AAA hockey after two seasons in the South Saskatchewan AA league. While this may be a rebuilding year, the Hounds are expected to field a team capable of competing with the top teams in the league.
Last Year’s Finish – 2nd, 44 Points, League Finalists
Head Coach: Heath Tyndall
The Stars look to be a strong contender for the league championship after two successive league final losses. The Stars will once again boast an offensive team that relies on speed and skill. 1995 forwards Kori Herner, Kennedy Harris and Haley Tyndall will anchor the Stars offence. All three finished in the top 20 of league scoring last season and are sure to post strong offensive numbers in their senior year. Also look to 1997 forward Amber Rennie who has the speed and potential to develop in to a strong scoring threat.
Defensively, the Stars will look to third year player Haley Girolami (95) to solidify their defense. The Stars will have the good fortune of playing in front of one of the elite goaltenders in the league. Samantha Ridgewell (96) will be back for her second year in the Stars net to follow-up on her rookie campaign where she recorded a .925 save percentage and 1.72 goals against average. The Stars defence will also count on rookies Jenna Nash (97) and Rayah DeCorby (98) to make strong contributions.
Weyburn Southern Range Gold Wings
Last Year’s Finish – 3rd , 44 Points, Lost Semi-Final to Saskatoon Head Coach: Chad Kish The Gold Wings will feature a young team in comparison to past campaigns. A group of eight returnees will be expected to lead a group of rookies to help Weyburn stay in the upper echelon of the league’s 8 teams. Marissa Pirlot (95), a second year player, will be counted on to improve upon her 24 point rookie season and lead the Gold Wings as one of the highly skilled 1995 players in the league. Key to the Gold Wings fortunes will be 2011-12 goalie of the year, Jane Kish (96). Kish recorded a 2.06 goals against average and .930 save percentage in 18 appearances last year.
Jolene Kirkpatrick (95), a three year veteran will be expected to play a leading defensive role on a team featuring three rookie defenders. Kirkpatrick’s leadership will see her don the “C” for the Gold Wings in her final season in the AAA league.
A strong crop of rookies will need to contribute early. Madison Casavant (97) from the North-East Flyers program is expected to post solid numbers. Tessa Wilson (96) from the Woodriver AA program will complete a dynamic offensive trio with returnees Caitlin Dempsey (96) and Marissa Pirlot (95). 1998 forward Bailee Bourassa joins the Gold Wings from the Weyburn AA driller program. As a young, local player, Bourassa possesses a strong work ethic and a deft scoring touch.
Last Year’s Finish – 4th, 32 Points, Lost Quarter-Final to Prince Albert
Head Coach: Kim Perpeluk
If the exhibition season is an indication of what lies ahead, the Rebels will be a force to contend with. The Rebels return more than a solid core of 11 veterans and will be ready to improve on their 4th place finish last year. Graduating forwards Hannah Heisler (95) and Teah Anderson (95) will be tough to keep off the scoresheet as both finished in the top 15 scorers last year. Anderson was the Rebels’ leading scorer last year and is positioned t1o be one of the leagues’ top forwards in 2012-13.
Nikki Watters-Matthes (95), a member of Team Saskatchewan and the league’s top defenseman in 2011-12 will be part of a very strong defensive squad for the Rebels. The Rebels return four starting defenders from last year’s team that skated to the Macs Championship. Goaltending also looks solid with returnee Rae McClintock expected to provide leadership as a third year starter.
Rookie defender Leah Bolken (97), in her first year of midget eligibility is one to watch. She joins the Rebel program with the potential to be one of the top rookie defenders in the league. Last year’s leading scorer in the South Saskatchewan AA Midget League, Kelsey Bohay (95) will be asked to play a key role in her first year in the AAA league.
Prince Albert A & W Bears
Last Year’s Finish – 5th, 28 Points, Lost Semi-Final to Notre Dame
Head Coach: Willoughby
The Bears are also looking to take advantage of a successful pre-season and move up in the league standings. Key to the Bears’ success will be the offensive duo of Kelly Regnier (95) and Kaitlyn Willoughby (95). They recorded 32 and 38 points respectively in the 2011-12 campaign and both have potential to battle for the league scoring championship in their final season of midget eligibility. They are certain to make the perennially tough Bears’ powerplay difficult to defend.
While the Bears’ return only two defenders, they look to be solid in their own end. Goaltender Jessica Vance (97) enters her third year in the league with a reputation as strong goaltender who has the ability to make the big save and change the complexion of the game. Vance will be supported by returning defender Morgan Willoughby (97) as they assist a young but talented group of rookie defenders. Keep your eye on Payton Ostrom (97) and Brooke Hobson (99) as they are two strong rookies that the Bears will count on.
Melville Fox FM Prairie Fire
Last Year’s Finish – 6th, 21 Points, Lost Quarter-Final to Weyburn
Head Coach: Kevin Kirkwood
The Prairie Fire return 12 players from the 2011-12 edition that placed 6th. Another year of experience will bode well for a young team that looks to move up in the standings. Fourth year player and team captain, Bailey Braden (95), is expected to lead the team offensively and improve upon her team leading 18 points from 2011-12. Second year players Alana Serhan (95) and Brooklyn McKenna (96) will be asked to improve upon their successful rookie seasons and contribute on a consistent basis.
Third year goalie Nicole Clay (95) will give Melville a strong and reliable presence between the pipes. Clay’s .932 save percentage was good for second in the league last year. The Prairie Fire will have a balance of returning and rookie defenders. Returnee Sarah Fiske (96) will see an expanded role after a strong rookie season. Tracy Prybylski (98) and Eryn Johanson (99) possess excellent skating skills and will be asked to take on big roles in their rookie year.
Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats
Last Year’s Finish – 7th, 13 Points, Lost Quarter-Final to Saskatoon Head Coach: Terry Pavely The Wildcats return a core of 10 players from their 2011-12 roster. Swift Current will sport a young roster with eight fifteen year-olds in the roster on a nightly basis. The Wildcats should be a tenacious team and will need to score by committee. The power play should be vastly improved with the ability to put out a skilled unit with heavy shots from the point. Offensive contributions are expected from 17 year olds Delaine Feil (95) and Karrah Newkirk (95). Both have the potential for an excellent graduating year with Newkirk hoping to enjoy a much better season in her last year of minor hockey after breaking a leg during the 2011-12 preseason. Brooklyn Haubrich (97) will provide more offence and grit after moving to forward from defense last season.
Returning goaltender Brooklyn Weisgerber (96) and 17 year old rookie Moriah Andrews (95) will give the Wildcats a solid tandem who will be expected to lead the team and help them improve on their second consecutive 7th place finish.
Last Year’s Finish – 8th, 2 Points, Lost Quarter-Final to Notre Dame Head Coach: Britt Penner The Sharks are looking to improve on a tough 2011-12 season that saw them register one win. Six returning players will be counted on to utilize their experience in the league to achieve success. Goaltenders Jacy Akre (95) and Rachel Mitchell (98) will have high expectations placed on them as they backstop the Sharks behind a young defensive squad anchored by graduating defenders Taylor Durocher (95) and Rachel Trach (95).
Offensive contributions will be needed from second year Shark Malory Roy (96) and graduating forward Shania Rhinehart (95) who will be playing in her fourth SFMAAAHL campaign. A promising core of rookies will need to mature quickly to help the Sharks move up the standings.