The two local teams and a local player have turned up the heat on the ice after the first games at the Female Sport School Challenge hockey tournament at the MTS Iceplex.
The host St. Mary's Flames and the Shaftesbury Titans, the two Winnipeg teams participating in the eight-team tournament which is sanctioned by Hockey Canada, both recorded wins in their opening games on Thursday.
Riann Richot scored two goals and was St. Mary's player of the game in a 5-0 win over Muskie Girls Hockey from Fort Frances, Ont. to open the tournament in the first game of the day. St. Mary's Danielle Krzyszczyk and Tess Bracken each notched power-play goals while Anna Kulas recorded the shut out. The Flames outshot Fort Frances 34-8.
Shaftesbury was led by a pair of goals from player-of-the-game Stephanie Grossi in a 6-2 victory over the Banff Hockey Academy. Shaftesbury's Justine Fredette had a goal and three assists while Kelsey Saelens added a pair of assists.
Led by Neepawa native and captain Halli Krzyzaniak, the Pursuit of Excellence team from Kelowna blasted New Brunswick's Rothesay Netherwood 6-0 and outshot Rothesay 61-9. The score would have been much higher if not for the play of Rothesay goalie and player-of-the-game Marlene Boissonnault.
Pursuit's player of the game was left-wing Sarah Potomak, a speedy forward who handled the puck like she had it on a string. Potomak had three goals and an assist for the Pursuit team, which opened the second period by scoring a pair of goals 51 seconds apart in the first two minutes to lift the team to a 5-0 lead and essentially put the game away.
Krzyzaniak, who has attended the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy for five years, said she was thrilled to be part of the inaugural Sport School Challenge in her home province.
"I think the last time I played in a hockey tournament in Manitoba, I was maybe 13 years old and playing for the Neepawa Hawks (boys team)," Krzyzaniak said after her team's game. "It's great for our team, we're a younger team so it's great for us to get this kind of experience. For me, it's a lot of fun to be playing here at home."
The opening ceremonies will be at 7 p.m., featuring Winnipeg native and three-time Olympic gold medallist Jennifer Botterill.
There will be two games tonight with St. Mary's meeting the Okanagan Hockey Academy at 7 p.m. in the Winnipeg Free Press rink and the Pursuit of Excellence taking on Banff at 7:15 p.m. in the Remax Rink.
The tournament is offering free admission to all hockey players aged 12 and under wearing their team jerseys and accompanied by an adult.