The Burnt Toast Fireballs have seared their name onto the Whitehorse Women’s Hockey League’s championship trophy.
The scorching squad snatched the league title with a 4-2 win over the H&R Block Shamrockers in the final on Friday at the Canada Games Centre.
“We just played as strong as we could the whole game and I think that’s what is really awesome about this league, there are 60 minutes and anything can happen,” said Fireballs assistant captain Jeane Lassen. “Every minute counts and it’s never a given in this league.”
The Fireballs, who were shutout by the Shamrockers earlier in the week, needed their offence to catch fire. Winger Nicole Belanger provided the sparks.
Belanger, who has the nickname “Hatty” for her numerous hat tricks, scored twice in the first period.
A couple minutes into the second, teammate Steph Hedley found the gap between pad and post to make it 3-0. A little over a minute later Anna Peacock, who assisted Hedley’s goal with Emma Lee Aghew, scored to make it 4-0.
“I think in the first half of the game my team was a bit nervous because in past history playing against (the Fireballs) we got a lot of injures,” said Shamrockers captain Vanessa Bogaert. “It was a little choppy, a little too many slashes, bodychecking and hookings and whatnot. Our girls are moms, they’re workers, so they need to function later on in the day. So I think they were a little hesitant to go in for the puck.”
The Shamrockers finished the regular season in first place, one point ahead of the Fireballs. They defeated the Fireballs 3-0 on March 31 to reach the final. Goalie Krystal Feres, who was ranked best goalie in the league, got the shutout.
The Fireballs beat third place’s Hvactech Systems 3-2 on Thursday to get to the final. Belanger lived up to her nickname, supplying her team’s three goals.
“We had a good win over them,” said Lassen. “It’s been super fun hockey all this week. All of the playoffs have been awesome. Great turnouts by fans for every team.
“Everyone is super supportive of each other. We have a lot of people who just started playing in the league, from beginners to some who have played NCAA hockey.”
The Fireballs’ four-goal lead didn’t remain too comfy for long. Shamrockers forward Talyce Henkel scored twice in the second period. She found the five-hole on a breakaway with 13:19 left in the period and added another – while flying Superman style over the crease – with 1:44 left.
“Very speedy and big in spirit,” said Bogaert of Henkel. “She doesn’t stop playing. And if you see her fall it’s because she does the tightest turns and she goes, ‘Oh well, I’ll try again.’
“She has a great spirit and always has a smile on her face. Our team motto the whole playoffs was, ‘As long as you’re coming off the ice with a smile, you’re doing something right.’”
This season marked the second in which the Whitehorse Women’s Hockey Association consisted of seven teams and a little over 100 players. Only two teams found sponsors the previous season, but all seven were sponsored by local businesses this past winter.
“I’m just really pumped that this league exists and our board has done so much work – we have several volunteers that make this league possible,” said Lassen. “We have an AGM on April 22 and we’re trying to get people out to get them more involved … We’re looking for more people for the board.”
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