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U18BB Panthers to OWHA provs

 U18BB Panthers to OWHA provincials


   A 4-2 win over Bluewater qualifies St. Thomas for the April championship


  March 5, 2023


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By Rob J. Ross

ST. THOMAS - It is provincial championship bound for the St. Thomas U18 BB Panthers.

Audrey Ferguson, Riley Cipu, Ramona Reid and Sasha Brown, with the game winner, scored as the Panthers defeated the Bluewater Hawks, 4-2, in an Ontario Women's Hockey Association (OWHA) play-down game Saturday at the Joe.

The win gives the Panthers three wins for six points and top spot in their qualifying three team group, that also include the London Devilettes.

"It's big because we haven't gone to provincials for a few years with covid. I'm excited and I'm happy that our seniors get to go," Panthers Olivia Sutton said. "We wanted to make it to provincials. That was our overall goal."

St. Thomas blanked London, 5-0, a week earlier and then Bluewater, 7-0, on Thursday.

"We weren't playing as hard as we did on Thursday. We weren't playing well in our end. We were breaking down a lot and that led to them scoring," said Sutton. "We played really well against them Thursday. We stuck in there even though they were being aggressive."

The Panthers led 2-0 late in the second period, before the Hawks scored. The visitors tied the affair early in the third. Brown out the home side back on top and Reid added insurance.

"The intensity from the beginning of the year, we're a totally different team. Our speed has come along and we're moving the puck. We're playing with intensity and with a purpose," Panthers' coach Mike Brown said. "We're doing everything that we're working on in practice, so we're committing to what we're building on and it's showing in it's game."

The OWHA provincials are April in Toronto.

The Panthers could qualify for a second provincial tournament, the league championship. But St. Thomas must beat the Huron Heat Sunday to force a game three to keep those hopes alive.

The series winner faces either London or South Huron for the spot at the league provincial tournament.




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