A season of champions
In a winter in which labour-action disrupted the high school sports routines across the province, the Sudbury and area crew emerged relatively unscathed.
Not only did participation hover right in around recent historical trends, but some wonderful parity in a variety of sports produced memorable battles, with the SDSSAA ranks sending a strong contingent of athletes to OFSAA competitions.
Perhaps nowhere was the parity more evident than within the girls volleyball ranks, where the likes of the Lockerby Vikings, Lo-Ellen Park Knights, St. Charles Cardinals and the up-and-coming Lasalle Lancers went toe to toe.
Little surprise then that the end of the season produced some absolute classics, with a veteran-laden St. Charles crew finally overcoming a Lockerby group that had consistently gotten the better of the Cardinals throughout their secondary school careers.
The Cards battled from behind to upend the Vikes in five sets to claim the Division A senior crown, directly on the heels of a five-set win in the junior Division A final as Lasalle outlasted St. Charles.
Not to be outdone, the Lockerby seniors were right back at it one week later, contesting one of the more intense NOSSA championship encounters in recent memory. The Vikings and Knights needed five sets and then some before Lo-Ellen claimed the AA crown.
In Sault Ste. Marie, St. Charles was following the trend, picking up the AAA banner with a win over the hometown Korah Colts.
St Charles, Lo-Ellen and Lockerby were joined by the Marymount Regals, NOSSA A champions, in making the trek to the all-Ontario playdowns. The Cards, Knights and Vikings advanced to the championship final eight, but were all eliminated in quarter-final play, while the Regals worked their way through to the consolation final before succumbing to E.S. Lajeunesse.
The Chelmsford Flyers claimed their first senior Division B title since 2008, downing the Lively Hawks in the finals while the junior Hawks capped off an outstanding year, taking down the Sacré-Coeur Griffons in four sets.
Finally, the Lasalle midgets walked away with bragging rights within the Grade 9 competitors, defeating Lo-Ellen.
It has become something of a mid-February tradition. By the time the SDSSAA boys basketball playoffs hit, stay tuned for a small handful of upsets. The 2012-2013 season was no different, as a pair of undefeated teams suffered their first losses of the year at a most inopportune time.
Running the table with a 9-0 mark and adding the Franco Tournament to their resume only weeks earlier, the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères were steamrolled by the St. Benedict Bears, beaten 50-32 in the senior Division II semifinal. The Bears went on to claim the Division II banner, besting the Horizon Aigles 57-49 in the championship affair.
The junior Division II encounter saw a reversal of fortunes as Horizon blasted 8-0 regular season champion St. Benedict 61-31, losing the NOSSA A final to the Algonquin Barons from North Bay.
The Lockerby Vikings senior boys laid claim to the Division I regular season crown, posting a record of 7-1, but it did them precious little good come playoff time. The Lo-Ellen Park Knights surprised the Vikes 49-46 in the semifinals, but were no match for the Lasalle Lancers in the city final, who took the game 43-27.
Unfortunately, the tables were turned on the Lancers in the NOSSA AAA final as the Korah Colts pulled away from Lasalle 62-43.
The Lockerby Vikings juniors were one of the few teams that were able to run the table, start to finish, garnering top spot in regular season play at 7-1, beating Lasalle 47-41 in the city final and then sweeping with the NOSSA crown with a 49-44 victory over the Superior Heights Steelhawks of Sault Ste. Marie.
The midget division featured the emergence of a new power in boys basketball as a talented young Confederation crew provided the Val Caron institution with its first SDSSAA midget boys basketball banner, downing the Lockerby Vikings 48-25.
NOSSA competition, however, was not kind to local schools as not a single local squad advanced through to the OFSAA all-Ontario championships.
The SDSSAA contingent managed to crack the podium at the OFSAA swimming championships in Etobicoke, with Lasalle Secondary junior Spencer Allen managing the double in the freestyle event.
Allen captured gold in both the 50-metre and 100-m freestyle finals, while John Bronicheski of St. Charles College swam to bronze in the 50-m backstroke.
The Lockerby tandem of Jordano Cazzola and Sophie Hardcastle, St. Benedict’s Erin Kendall and Lo-Ellen’s Alex Sarvas also managed to work their way through to the A finals (top eight), with several local competitors earning a berth in the B bracket.
The SDSSAA boys hockey ranks might not have been as deep as in most years, but what the league might have lost in quantity, it more than made up for in competitive balance.
The eight-team grouping featured as many close games as any year in recent memory. The St. Charles College Cardinals were strong, though not unbeatable. But arguably, as the most disciplined Cardinals crew in the past decade or so, it was enough to lift the team to a regular season crown with a record of 12-1-1.
In semifinal play, St. Charles needed overtime to slip past Bishop Carter 3-2 in game one, giving themselves only slightly more breathing room with a 4-2 win in game two.
Meanwhile, the Manitoulin Mustangs picked the ideal time to play some of their best hockey of the season, taking out the Panthères in straight games (3-1 and 2-0). Though Manitoulin played St. Charles tough, the Cardinals maintained just enough of a gap in sweeping past the Mustangs 4-2, 3-0 and 3-2.
With their .500 regular season mark, St. Benedict entered the Division B playoffs as the top seed and they made good on their advance rankings. The Bears ousted the Lockerby Vikings, also in straight games, recording wins of 5-2, 4-2 and 4-2.
Unfortunately, local teams were no match for the Sault Ste. Marie contingent as a pair of representatives from the Lock City laid claim to the NOSSA banners. St. Charles suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to the Korah Colts in Sault Ste. Marie, while the Colts avenged a 4-1 round robin loss to the Cards, earning their spot at OFSAA.
With the two-time defending city champion Lockerby Vikings taking a step back this year, the door was left open for an intriguing battle for girls hockey supremacy.
A large influx of young talent allowed the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes to post an unblemished 11-0-1 regular season mark.
The St. Charles College Cardinals earned second place in the Division A ranks, but it was in the playoffs where the Cardinals really had things going their way. After going to a shootout to edge CND 3-2 in game one of the final, St. Charles marked a surprising 7-3 win in game two. That clinched the Cardinals’ first city title since 1999.
Both St. Charles and Notre-Dame advanced to OFSAA, and while both looked impressive in round robin play, both were dispatched to the sidelines in the playoff quarter-finals.
Sudbury will host both the A/AA and AAA/AAAA all-Ontario girls hockey championship in 2014.
The Division B girls hockey loop took an interesting approach in 2012-2013, combining the top two of four teams in Division B with the bottom four finishers in Division A, coming up with a six-team post-season playdown.
When the dust settled, it was the St. Benedict Bears who garnered the divisional accolades, taking down the Bishop Carter Gators in straight games. A tight defensive 2-1 win for the Bears gave way to a 7-5 triumph in a much more wide-open affair.
Though the numbers were down slightly within the SDSSAA wrestling ranks this year, the top-end talent was as good as ever, with several locals garnering the spotlight.
However, none shone brighter than Lockerby Composite senior Victoria Day. The Grade 12 student, who also competes with the Sudbury Regional Wrestling Club, came off a silver-medal performance one year ago to take the next step up the podium this time around.
Day claimed gold in the 51-kg weight class at OFSAA, defeating Jenna Leslie of Centre Wellington.
Though Day was the only local to medal, several other competitors managed to crack the provincial top six — a noteworthy accomplishment within the sport. Logan Blanchard of Lo-Ellen and Tim Glasgow of Lasalle both took fifth, while Dustin Pretty of Lasalle took sixth in their respective weight categories.