March Highlights

The month of March was an extremely busy one, as many provinces held Provincial Championships in a number of sports at all levels. Here is a recap of some of the action from around the country.


Oftentimes a sport that flies under the radar, cheerleading is an intense and demanding sport that deserves as much recognition as all other sports. Here is a recap of the Saskatchewan Provincial Championships.

The Melfort and Unit Comprehensive Collegiate (MUCC) cheer team finished its season on a high note with a first place finish in the Junior category at the 2011 Saskatchewan Provincial Cheerleading Championship, held at Dr. Martin LeBoldus High School in Regina on March 26. The team achieved a total score of 211.86, placing it ahead of Aden Bowman Collegiate from Saskatoon and Winston Churchill School from Lloydminster.

This finish came as a great triumph for the cheer team, which is only in its second season but has been taking substantial strides to improve its overall performance. In addition to building a solid foundation by ensuring at least a third of the team will return for the next year, additional coaches with diverse backgrounds were signed to the roster to help increase the appeal and growth of the squad’s prospects. With just 12 girls and four coaches on board, coaches were able to work one-on-one with the girls to provide individual attention and accommodate their varying needs.

Prior to this success, the team earned a bronze medal at the Saskatchewan Cheerleading Association’s Cheerleading Provincials in Saskatoon, along with a gold at the University of Regina Cheerleading Competition in its first season. Before its 2011 championship win, the team finished first in the Junior category at the Warman Classic on March 19 and also led at the Huskie Classic in Saskatoon on March 20.

With an updated list of accomplishments and an increasingly visible cheer program, MUCC is hoping to expand the squad while keeping the coach-gymnast ratio fairly consistent in the upcoming season.


With the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds recently winning the University Cup as the national men’s university champions, we now focus on the high school players that might some day be a part of another University Cup champion team.

(Photo courtesy: The Daily Gleaner/James West Photo)

(Photo courtesy: The Daily Gleaner/James West Photo)

The Fredericton High Black Kats claimed their third consecutive New Brunswick Boys 3A High School Hockey Championship with a well-deserved 5-3 victory over the Leo Hayes Lions in front of 1,400 jubilant fans. Brett Barnhill, also a member of the Fredericton Midget AAA Canadiens, was the player of the day for the Black Kats, scoring a hat trick in the final game. Barnhill, along with line-mates, Brett B. MacLean and Brett S. MacLean, lined up the Kats’ first four goals, while Chris Major landed the Kats’ fifth goal during the third period. Black Kats goaltender Seamus Bowen needed just 20 saves for the victory.

Black Kats head coach Tim Smith, who has been at the forefront of the past three provincial victories, credits the MacLean-Barnhill-MacLean line with a large part of the team’s success, noting that the chemistry that exists between them is an indispensable asset to the team.

The Black Kats made it to the final after surviving a scare in the semi-finals when they managed a 7-5 victory over the Clément-Cormier Cavaliers. The Black Kats trailed 3-0 after the first period, but clawed their way back for a victory, with a four-goal second period and an additional three in the third period.


March was an exciting month for basketball in Alberta as both the boys’ and girls’ 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A Provincial Championships were held in various locations throughout the province from March 17 to 19.


In the 4A Championship, rivals Western Canada Redmen and Churchill Bulldogs squared off in a game that featured two highly skilled teams. The #5 ranked Redmen had an exciting path to the championship game that saw them pull off a major upset victory over #1 ranked Archbishop O’Leary in the semi-finals. The Redmen carried that momentum into the final where they were led by a trio of grade 11 students. Isidora Purkovic, Megan Festival and Madeline Rogers combined for 74 points as the Redmen overcame an early deficit to come out on top with a final score of 89-76. Jessie Bachynski and Jessica Comfort led the way for the Bulldogs, as they scored 26 and 18 points, respectively. After the game, Redmen coach Sheldon Brady praised his group of young players but also gave credit to the leadership of the grade 12’s as well. The future remains bright for the Redmen, as Purkovic, Festival and Rogers will be joined by a fellow tournament standout, grade 10 player Aimee Wilson, next year as they look to defend their title.

Girls 3A Champion, Shelby Hucul

Girls 3A Champion, Shelby Hucul. (Photo courtesy: Jeremy Broadfield, Saint City News)

As if defending their 3A Championship didn’t provide enough motivation to win again in 2011, the St. Albert Catholic High School Skyhawks only needed to think back to a month ago when they lost to the Monsignor McCoy High School Colts in the final of a 3A tournament in Wetaskiwin. In the highly anticipated rematch between the two top ranked teams in Alberta, the Skyhawks dug deep and avenged the Wetaskiwin loss with a 74-63 victory to claim the 3A Championship for a second straight year. The Colts enjoyed an extremely impressive season that included nine tournament victories (and two second place finishes) but unfortunately could not match the firepower of the Skyhawks in the final game of the year. Kendall Lydon led the way for the Skyhawks with a game-high 29 points, including five 3-pointers, and received support from veterans Shelby Hucul, Katie Burak, Zoe Downing and Stephanie Gartner (all of whom were on the 2010 Championship team). Although they will be losing several key players to graduation, the future looks bright for the Skyhawks and a three-peat is certainly not out of the question.

In 2A action, the Prairie Christian Academy Sabres could not have picked a better year to break the Immanuel Christian Eagle’s three-year Championship streak. With the tournament being hosted on their home court, the Sabres excelled with the support of their fans to upset the #1 ranked Eagles with a 78-70 victory.

The St. Michael’s Dragons proved the old adage that “defence wins championships” en route to taking home the 1A Championship. The Dragons surrendered a miniscule 93 points over three games as they outmatched bigger and more physical teams using tight team defence and timely scoring. The most impressive defensive stat from the Dragons came in the 4th quarter of the championship game when they shut out the Ryley Rebels to clinch the victory. Emma Lowry was the Dragons’ leader the entire year and she didn’t skip a beat in the championship game, as she led all scorers with 14 points.


It is a cliché that is perhaps overused, however in the case of the Raymond High Comets, the story of David vs. Goliath truly is fitting. With a student body of just 200, it is impressive, to say the least, how the Raymond Comets have managed to compete with schools that boast up to 10 times as many students. The Comets wrote another chapter in their school’s remarkable history as they defeated the Western Canada Redmen by a final score of 82-76 to take home the Boys 4A Basketball Championships. The Redmen earned their ticket to the final after pulling out a thrilling 122-121 double-overtime victory in the semi-finals over the Harry Ainlay Titans while the Comets outlasted the Jasper Place Rebels in a hard fought 97-91 victory in the other semi-final. Both teams showed no signs of fatigue however as they played a highly entertaining game that many were calling a classic battle between two elite basketball teams. With their second 4A Championship in the last 3 years, it is safe to say that the Raymond Comets’ legacy of athletic excellence is still alive and strong.

Raymond Comets 4A Champions

Raymond Comets 4A Champions (Photo courtesy: West Edmonton Local)

The Cochrane Cobras made every decision this season with the sole purpose of winning the Provincial 3A Championships. One of those decisions was to enter several tournaments in California for the chance to compete against top-level American teams. It was a unique approach but in the end, it paid off. The Cobras found themselves down by 11 points after one quarter to the Wetaskiwin Sabres, however they were able to find a way to grind out the victory. The game was tied going into the fourth quarter and that is where the Cobras took control. Thanks to a mix of clutch free throws and strong defense, the Cobras pulled away en route to a convincing 67-58 victory, one that validated each and every decision made during over the course of the year.

The Alberta 2A Championships pitted the third-ranked Picture Butte Sugar Kings against the fourth-ranked team from La Crete Public School. The Sugar Kings showed the ability to adapt and improve on the fly as their defence improved steadily throughout the tournament. It was that ever-improving stingy defence that culminated in the 75-59 victory over La Crete. The loss was a major disappointment for La Crete, as they entered the game with an impressive record of 23 wins and 0 losses.


Spectators at both the boys’ and girls’ hockey championships were treated to very exciting and intense games as both championship games ended dramatically in overtime.

After finishing the regular season with a record of 30-3-1, the CEC Cougars girls team came into the Provincial Championship with high expectations, not necessarily what is expected of a team in just its second season. The Provincials got off to a good start with two victories, however the Cougars lost to the C.P. Allen Cheetahs in the final game of the round robin by a score of 3-2. Both teams had already clinched a spot in the medal round, however the loss still stung and forced the Cougars into a tough semi-final game against Dalbrae High. Down 2-1 late in the third period, the Cougars staged an improbable comeback to reach the finals with a 3-2 victory. The championship game was a nail-biter featuring end-to-end action but no goals at the end of regulation time. Just over 3 minutes into overtime, captain Tiffany MacDonald fed April Mackay with a nice pass in front of the net, which she calmly tucked in past the sprawling Cheetahs goaltender. In a season that many would call improbable, to say the least, the Cougars won the Provincial Championship and in doing so, firmly established themselves as a hockey program to be reckoned with.

In the boys’ tournament, the high drama started in the semi-finals, as both the Dr. J.H. Gillis Regional Royals and Sir John A. MacDonald Flames found themselves the Championship final thanks to some late game heroics. The Royals were tied with the Lockview High Dragons with just 1:40 left in the third period when Bobby Hamer rifled a slapshot from just inside the blueline past the Dragons goalie. The other semi-final featured a Flames team that apparently had a flair for the dramatic. After opening the tournament with a double-overtime victory, the Flames needed double-overtime again to get past the Millwood Knights by a final score of 6-5. After such emotional victories, both teams were at their best in the final game that saw Flames goaltender Corey Breese make several amazing saves to keep his team in the game. Hamer picked up where he left off in the semi-final and was dangerous every time he stepped on the ice. He was already robbed by Breese once in the first period and had hit the post in the second when Hamer found himself on a clear cut breakaway with less than a minute left in overtime. The third time was a charm as Hamer made a nice move to his backhand and lifted the puck over a sprawling Breese to clinch the Championship for the Royals. The breakaway goal was a fitting end to the Royals’ season, as it was Hamer’s 60+ goals that helped them finish with an overall record of 51 wins and just 9 losses.


In a month where provincial basketball and hockey championships dominated the headlines, there was plenty of exciting volleyball action as the Girls 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A OFSAA Volleyball Championships were held on March 8-9 in four different cities around the province.

Sinclair Celtics – 4A Champions

Sinclair Celtics – 4A Champions (Photo courtesy:

The 4A division in OFSAA girls’ volleyball is an extremely competitive one and this year’s Provincial Championship certainly demonstrated the high level of competition. The Georgetown Rebels hadn’t lost a single match going into the tournament and after making their way into the finals, there was no reason to believe the top ranked team’s impressive winning streak was going to end any time soon. The third-ranked Sinclair Celtics, on the other hand, had a shaky start to the tournament that saw them being upset by the #14 seed in the round robin and then having to fight off 4 match points in the quarter-finals against #6 seed Grand River. The Celtics persevered though and found a way to make it into the finals against the favourites from Georgetown. The Celtics more than held their own as they powered their way to take the first two sets by identical scores of 25-23. The third set saw the Rebels fight back, as they took it easily at 25-12. The fourth set turned out to be the last though as the Celtics won it 25-21 to surprise everyone, perhaps even themselves, and complete the upset. Celtics Head Coach Christine Davis cited the stunning loss that kicked off the tournament as the wake up call that her players needed to help get them to where they needed to be. It might not be a groundbreaking new strategy, but it worked for the Celtics this time.

The ESP Riel Rebelles were the defending champion and #1 ranked team going into the playoffs, but they certainly didn’t breeze by the competition en route to defending their 3A OFSAA Championship. Both of their quarter-final and semi-final matches went to three sets and the final against Belle River started off with a 35-33 defeat in the first set. The Rebelles didn’t waver and showed why they are the defending champions and rebounded to take the next three straight sets to take home the Championship.

The Gisele Lalonde Titans were a powerhouse team to be reckoned with as they steamrolled their way to win the OFSAA 2A Championship. The semi-final game against the De La Salle Cavaliers was actually the highlight of the tournament for the Titans, as the rivals matched each other shot for shot in an intense battle. The Titans came out on top with a renewed sense of confidence and easily beat the Eden Flyers in the Championship match. The final match lasted less than an hour and the Titans surrendered just 38 points over three sets to take the Championship title.

The 1A division featured a final match that was much closer than the 2A final as Ecole Secondaire Catholique Embrun was in tough against St. Thomas Aquinas. Embrun came out on top with a final score of 23-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-23.


The Manitoba Provincial boys and girls hockey Championships were held in March and each one featured exciting games with intriguing story lines. In a year where a three-peat was achieved, a team sought redemption and revenge was served, this year’s Championships truly had it all.


The Oak Park Raiders boys team went into the finals of the 4A Provincial Championships with a bitter defeat still fresh in their minds. Just a week prior, the Raiders came out flat against the St. Paul Crusaders in the Winnipeg High School Hockey League city final and ended up losing 5-0. The Raiders had also lost to the Crusaders two other times earlier in the season, making the Provincial Championship the perfect stage for revenge. The Championship game was tied at 1-1 heading into the third period when the Raiders took the lead on a shot from forward Cory Yeroschak. That lead was short lived however, as the Crusaders climbed back to tie it up just a few minutes later. The Crusaders were called for a penalty with less than 4 minutes to play in regulation and the Raiders capitalized. Tyler Morwick scored with 3:25 left to play to put the Raiders ahead for good, and in doing so, erased the memory of the city final defeat. After such an exciting, back and forth battle between the two teams, hopefully next year’s teams can keep this blossoming rivalry going.

Oak Park Raiders – 4A Champions

Oak Park Raiders – 4A Champions (Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Free Press)

The title of boys 2A Provincial Champions had belonged to the Killarney/Wawanesa Raiders for the past two years heading into this year’s Championship. The Morris Mavericks lost to the Raiders in last year’s final so it was clear that they had revenge on their minds. The Mavericks defeated the Raiders 3-2 in double-overtime during round robin play, however that victory alone would not be enough to erase the pain of defeat from the year before. Only a Provincial Championship could do that. Playing in front of a home-town crowd, the Mavericks jumped out of the gate to a 1-0 lead less than 2 minutes into the game and never looked back. The Mavericks barraged the Raiders goalie with 41 shots, with 4 of them finding the back of the net, while Mavericks goaltender Carson Keck needed to make just 16 saves for the shutout. Tristan Keck led the way for the Mavericks with a hat trick to go along with an assist on the other goal. This was the Mavericks’ first ever Provincial Championship so it was only fitting that it came against a rival that denied them just a year before.


The road to the Winnipeg Women’s High School Hockey League’s A Division Championships for the Oak Park Raiders was by no means an easy one. This year’s Raiders featured just five players from the team that won the Championship last year and the outlook was not good at the beginning of the season when just 17 players showed up to try-outs, giving the Raiders the minimum number of players. All that being said, the Raiders managed to get past Balmoral Hall in the best-of-three semi-final that featured two games going to shootout. In the finals, the Raiders were up against a St. Mary’s Flames team that was favoured to win after they had lost just two games all season. In addition, the Flames had some added motivation, as many of the players were seeking revenge after losing to the Raiders in the finals the year before. This year’s final came down to a third and deciding game that saw Raiders goaltender Amanda Pushka stand tall. With the Raiders clinging to a 1-0 lead late in the third period, the Flames threw everything they could at Pushka in an effort to tie it up, but nothing got past Pushka. The Raiders clinched the victory, and their three-peat, with an empty net goal with just 13 seconds left in the game. For a team that was not viewed as the fastest, most skilled or most experienced, the Raiders certainly didn’t back down from the Flames and were rewarded with a hard fought Championship.

Five years ago the West Kildonan Wolverines girls’ hockey team made national headlines when two of its players fought for the right to play on the boys’ team, but this time they were back on the front page for all the right reasons. The Wolverines have come a long way and firmly erased any doubts as to their level of play when they won their first ever City Championship. The final of the Winnipeg Women’s High School Hockey League’s B Division featured the Wolverines taking on the Fort Richmond Centurions in a best-of-three series. In the third and final game of the series, the Wolverines were powered by a relentless offence that directed 40 shots on net to take a 3-1 victory. Now that they have one Championship under their collective belt, the sky is the limit for the Wolverines, as they look to continue building a girls hockey program that will never be questioned again.

West Kildonian Wolverines

West Kildonian Wolverines (Photo courtesy: Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

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