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Panthers win OWHA bronze

 OWHA bronze for Midget B Panthers


   Henry-Huff scores lone goal as St. Thomas beats local rival West Oxford


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

trio    St. Thomas Panthers (in white), OWHA Midget B bronze medalists, are, from left,  front row -  Emily Sanderson, Grace Waite, Aviva Fournie, Grace Wolfs, Amber Safadi, Macy Wismer, Abby Ten Pas, Bailee Smith; back row - JC Collins, Maggie Gordon, Laura Telfer, Patty Henry-Huff, Christine Baxter, Grace Thornton, Tiara Doxtator, Leah May, Freyja Mosern. The Panthers beat West Oxford, 1-0, in the bronze medal game. The teams shared a post game photo.


By Rob J. Ross 

ST. THOMAS - Patty Henry-Huff may have been feeling unwell but she gave St. Thomas Panthers a good feeling.

The Panthers' forward scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over the West Oxford Inferno, in the midget B bronze medal game, at the Ontario Women's Hockey Association (OWHA) provincial championships, in Toronto, April 5-7th.

"She (Henry-Huff) was probably our best player and she was sick all weekend too. She wasn't feeling great and she still played well," Panthers' head coach Chris Waite said. "She dressed for the games, but didn't always have it in her (missing multiple shifts). She toughed it out and scored a few goals for us."

Henry-Huff had the overtime winner, to lift the Panthers over the Twin Centre Hericanes, in the quarterfinals. Abby Ten Pas also scored for St. Thomas.

St. Thomas had two wins and a tie in three pool games, to advance to the playoff round.

"We were great as a team," said Waite. "Everyone contributed something. They all played together. They all played a lot.  They played well and they played hard."

Maggie Gordon, Grace Waite, Emily Sanderson and Christine Baxter, conclude their Panthers' careers with a medal.

"They end on a high note," said coach Waite.

A 2-0 loss to the South Huron Sabres in the semifinals, prevented the Panthers from a shot at the gold medal.

"They (South Huron) got a very quick goal in the first minute and that kind of put us back on our heels," said Waite. "I believed we out shot them but their goalie played fantastic. We had close to 30 shots. We played really well but we just couldn't score on their goalie.  They went on to win gold, beat Thunder Bay in overtime."

St. Thomas, West Oxford and South Huron, know each other very well, as the three teams play in the Lower Lakes Female League West Division.

The Panthers finished first in the regular season, but South Huron won the league playoff title.

There were few unknowns when St. Thomas took on West Oxford for the OWHA bronze.

"It was the seventh time we played that team this year and we split (games). It was a great game against a great team," Waite said. "A very intense game. In fact I got a bench minor for the very first time in about eight years. I'm kind of embarrassed about it, but a very intense game with questionable officiating both ways. I know the other coaches very well and they felt the same way."

Twice the Panthers had to kill off a West Oxford five-on-three power play.

"It was getting really intense at the end. There was a lot of body-checking. It was rough. We stayed positive the whole time," said Panthers' defenceman Amber Safadi, a top penalty killer on the team. "It felt good winning the bronze. Not as good as gold, but winning our last game felt good."

Safadi has her second career OWHA bronze medal and adds to her overall medal collection from provincial championships, over the past 10 months. The Grade 11 student at Parkside C.I., has an OFSAA gold from girls' soccer and an OFSAA silver from field hockey.

Henry-Huff has been selected to Team Ontario, for the National Aboriginal hockey championships, in Whitehorse, Yukon, May 6-14th.


Seven teams at provincials

St. Thomas had seven teams competing at provincials, lead by the bronze medal winning midget B Panthers.

The Novice C Panthers missed advancing from their pool by one point, with a 1-1-1 record.

The Atom C squad won their pool with two wins and a tie, but fell to the Mooretown Lady Flags, 2-1, in their quarterfinal.

The Midget A team had a tie and pair of losses in pool action. The peewee C Panthers were 1-2, including a loss to the eventual champions, Kincardine Kinucks. The bantam C Panthers also went 1-2, while the midget C team, lost all three pool games.


The BAD Girls Blazers lost in the midget C quarterfinals, to Nepean, after a two wins and a loss in pool play.