The Twin Centre Hericanes senior B team won its first-ever Ontario Women’s Hockey Association gold medal to cap off a very successful season.
Their 5-3 win over Belmont in the final also ended a perfect season that saw them win the London Devilettes Senior Fall Classic and the St. Catharines Niagara Women’s Annual Tournament. The squad also took first place in SOWHL league play and won the SOWHL league championship.
Having a season this successful is rare for any sport said, coach Doug Woodburn.
“I think sports more often has to do with constructively dealing with disappointments and failures. But the good part about that is that it helps you kind of appreciate when things go really well. This year was one of those times when everything just came up roses,” he said.
In the OWHA championship, the Hericanes received a bye to the quarterfinals after beating teams from Peterborough, Scarborough and London in pool play. The quarterfinal match-up saw the Wellesley team take revenge over Parkhill, who defeated the Hericanes in last year’s gold medal game. Falling behind early and trailing 2-1 in the second period, the team rallied with three unanswered goals to post a 4-2 win.
The semi-finals saw a matchup against the Woolwich Wild. Given that the Hericanes originally started as part of the Woolwich program in 2016, before starting their own team a year later there is a competitive rivalry, Woodburn said.
“There’s a bit of a rivalry there. Because we play each other in the league as well, I would say there’s a rivalry there,” he added.
After the Wild took a 2-0 lead, Wellesley stormed back to tie and punch their ticket to the final with a double overtime winner at 8:32 of the second extra frame.
The Hericanes got the scoring in the final against the Belmont Blazers with a shorthanded goal near the end of 5-on-3 power play for their opponents. An evenly matched final for the rest of the game saw Wellesley take a lead they would never relinquish 4:19 into the third period.
Woodburn is hoping the provincial championship will help spark more interest in the team and league, as well as the U18 program which is looking to rebuild next season.
“For a long time, competitive hockey for women ended when their minor hockey careers were done. And there’s lots of options now for competitive hockey to continue for women into their adulthood. It’s very competitive hockey. Four of the five gold medals in provincials came from the southwestern teams.”