The Stoney Creek Junior Sabres are gearing up for the second leg of their 2013/14 Provincial Women’s Hockey League campaign.
The Sabres will begin their 2014 PWHL run next weekend on the road. The team will battle the Nepean Wildcats on Jan. 4 and Ottawa Senators on Jan. 5.
“I hope that we will continue to recognize that when we play well as a team at both ends of the ice we are successful and able to compete with any team out there. If we can continue to play that way each game, we will be successful,” Sabres head coach Stacey Marnoch said. “We will approach the second half of the season much the same way as we approached the first part, with an emphasis on team first. I have faith in my team and the ability of every player to elevate their game, making us a tough team to play every night we hit the ice.”
The Sabres occupied 10th place in the 20-team league heading into their last game of 2013 on the road. The team faced off against the 11th-place Oakville Hornets on Dec. 20. Results were unavailable at press deadline.
“As with each season, it takes some time for the team to come together and start playing well as a team at both ends of the ice. We have so much talent on this year’s team that when it all comes together we are a tough team to play against,” Marnoch said of the Sabres’ 8-6-3-1 record. “We have been competitive in every game and are looking to build on the successes we have had and continue it down the stretch. There is a lot of hockey left to be played at this point.”
The Sabres finished fourth in 2012/13 PWHL regular season action, before losing to the Toronto Aeros in the second round of the playoffs. The team went on to score a bronze medal at the provincials, despite being down to 10 players.
The Sabres this season saw the return of forwards Madison Field, Rosie Heffernan and Sarah Quaranta; defencemen Madison Brown and Kristina Kocsis; and goaltender Taylor Cook.
The team also picked up new talent in the form of forwards Sarah Hine, Taylor McMahon, Melissa Millar, Kristen O’Neill, Sarah Olsen and Rachael Smith; defencemen Nicole Collier, Laura Crowdis, Sara Habal and Paige Jackson; and netminder Sarah McDonnell. Hine, McMahon, O’Neill, Smith, Collier, Crowdis, Jackson and McDonnell came up from the Sabres’ midget teams, while Millar, Olsen and Habal were acquired from St. Catharines, North Halton and Mississauga’s midget teams.
“The veterans all have experience and know what it takes to compete and be successful at this level. The rookies bring with them a great team-first mentality and desire to compete and succeed, which has allowed the team to come together very well,” Marnoch said. “Each of the rookies brings with them their own strengths and set of skills that contribute to who we are as a team. They have all stepped up when we needed them and are an important part of the successes we have had so far this season.”
Marnoch said if the Sabres continue to play well as a team, both defensively and offensively, they will enjoy long-term success.
“We need to keep working hard and remember playing good team defence is just as important as putting the puck in the net,” she said. “If we continue to work hard as a team, both defensively and offensively, and compete for every inch of ice we can give any team a run for its money. I have faith that this team is entirely capable of going all the way this season.”