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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blazing a new trail for Balmoral Hall hockey

Team captures school's first WWHSHL title

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ADMITTEDLY there were some tense moments, but at no point did the Balmoral Hall Blazers feel like they were going to cough up their chance to make history.

Tess Bracken scored two goals and Kayla Karbonik notched three assists as the Blazers junior varsity team beat the College Jeanne Sauve Olympiens 6-3 to win the CTV A Division championship in the Winnipeg Women's High School Hockey League at the MTS Iceplex Thursday afternoon.

The Blazers took the best-of-three series 2-0.

They also secure the first WWHSHL title for the private school in the seven-year history of the hockey program, a system that features the junior varsity team (made up of mostly grade 9 and 10 students) and the touring varsity prep team (the elite squad that competes in the North America-wide Junior Women's Hockey League).

Usually, it's the varsity prep squad that grabs all the attention.

Not this week.

"People can never take this away from us," head coach Bryan Williams said through the shrieks and screams after the game. "It's a great accomplishment for our program. We'll always be bound together with that. Now the job starts for next year. Everyone will be trying to knock us off now."

Winning their first league championship caps off an incredible year for the Blazers. They won 25 straight games to start the season before dropping a match to College Jeanne Sauve in January -- the lone blemish on the Balmoral record.

"It was an amazing year. I've never been a part of anything like this season," said Bracken, a Grade 9 forward. "To only lose one game and for it to be... I don't want to say a fluke -- we didn't play our best game that day. To think we could have had a perfect record is kind of overwhelming right now."

"It's just really great to know that we're the first ones to do it," Karbonik added. "We will always know that we were the first one to do it for the school, and to be a part of it is pretty special."

The final match didn't come as easy as the score (or the season's dominance) would suggest. After the Blazers jumped out to a 4-0 lead early in the second period, the Olympiens scored three straight goals, including two quick ones early in the third to cut the lead to 4-3.

That made for some nervous times on the Balmoral side.

"It was kind of tense on the bench, everyone was pretty quiet," Karbonik said. "But we knew that if we could just get the next goal, that would really deflate them. Once we scored that fifth one, everyone felt a lot better."

Goaltender Robin Thiessen made 15 saves in the Blazers net. Sidney Urwin made 22 stops for the Olympiens.

adam.wazny@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 16, 2012 C2

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