By Pat Payton
STRATHROY – Goalie Emma Luyten posted the shutout as the Hubbard Pharmacy Bantam ‘B’ girls defeated Bluewater Hawks 3-0 here Sunday.
The win gave Liz Simpson’s squad the best-of-three, first-round Lower Lakes Female Hockey League playoff series in two straight games.
“We played hard, controlled the puck, and made some solid plays to secure the win,” coach Simpson reported. Goal scorers were Brooklyn Chadwick, Julia Cameron and Audrey Littlejohn.
The Hubbard Bantams will face a strong Sarnia Lady Sting team in round two of league playoffs, starting Feb. 18.
Rock 2 – Hawks 1
In the series opener last Thursday night at the PRC, the Hubbard Bantams built an early 2-0 lead and it was enough to carry them to a 2-1 victory over the Hawks.
Brooklyn Chadwick gave St. Marys a 1-0 first-period lead, and hard-working Julia Cameron scored what proved to be the game winner in the middle frame. Audrey Littlejohn assisted on both Rock goals. In the dying seconds of the second period, Emma Luyten made a huge stop at her doorstep–keeping the visitors off the scoreboard.
Bluewater pulled to within a goal with 4:43 remaining in the third, and sent out a sixth attacker with 1:09 left on the clock. Twice, the Hubbard squad was just inches from scoring into the empty Hawks’ net in the final minute of play.
“We had a great first and second periods, and the beginning of the third was strong, too,” Liz Simpson said. “Our passes were really connecting, passes right on the stick, and we had good cycling in their end. Bluewater did push back pretty hard in the third, but Emma stood on her head and kept us in it. She stayed really focused.”
Coach Simpson admitted that her team will have to “step it up a little bit” to win Game 2 in Strathroy.
“They’ve really improved since the beginning of the season; we noticed that tonight and it caught us off guard by the end of the third period. So we’ll have to come out hard Sunday and keep it going until the end of the game.”
Close second in LLFHL standings
In the LLFHL regular-season standings, the Hubbard Bantam ‘B’ girls finished a very close second to South Huron Sabres in the West Division.
In the 22-game schedule, St. Marys finished with a solid 14-4-4 record and 32 points, just one point behind the front-running Sabres (15-4-3) who had 33 points. The Rock, meanwhile, allowed a league-low 17 goals, while scoring 47 times.
The Hubbard Bantams will be playing South Huron in OWHA playdowns, with the winner qualifying for the year-end Provincials in April. The six-point series begins Thursday, Feb. 21 at the PRC at 8:15 p.m. “We’ll have to work hard; we’re very evenly-matched teams,” coach Simpson noted.
Note: The A.B.S. Tracs Inc. Bantam ‘C’ girls started OWHA playdowns on the weekend with two wins. The Bantams, coached by Don Scott, won 2-1 in Mitchell Saturday and 2-1 over South Huron Sabres Sunday in St. Marys.