THE new kids on the block served notice Sunday they've put down roots.
The Shaftesbury Titans, the first-year preparatory team out of a Winnipeg public school, finished in the top four of the inaugural Female Sport School Challenge hockey tournament for high-school aged girls.
Calgary's Edge School won the gold medal in the elite, eight-team tourney by defeating the Okanagan Hockey Academy 5-2. The Pursuit of Excellence from Kelowna won bronze by beating the Titans 1-0 at the MTS Iceplex.
"This team has set the benchmark for our program now, for players coming up, and I am very proud of them," said Shaftesbury head coach Eugene Kaminsky. "There's going be a huge expectation on this team to be successful next year. This year, we had the opportunity to go (to tournaments and games) as the underdogs and unknowns. Next year, they're going to know who we are. People are going to be up for us. We lose nine players, so for all our new players coming in, it's going to be important for them to step up."
POE, outshot 24-19, got its only goal from Neepawa native and captain Halli Krzyzaniak on the power play at 11:31 of the third period.
In the final 1:19, Shaftesbury had a power play and pulled its goalie, but could not find the back of the net with the 6-on-4 advantage.
"We had a tough loss in the semifinal, we were fatigued today. That was our 11th game in 10 days, but we found a way to win today," said POE head coach Scott Spencer, whose team played in last weekend's Challenge Cup tournament in Washington. "Sara Besseling (goalie) responded with a great game, a 1-0 shutout, and (Krzyzaniak) gets the game-winning goal. You couldn't write a better finish to it for us."
Goaltender Rachel Dyck, who denied POE left-wing Sarah Potomak on a third-period penalty shot, was named Shaftesbury's player of the game and was chosen as the tournament's all-star goaltender.
Besseling was named POE's player of the game.
"This season is something I will never forget. (I'll) always be grateful for choosing to come to Shaftesbury," said Shaftesbury captain Rikki Meilleur, one of seven players who transferred from Balmoral Hall, a private school with a successful preparatory team. "We ran most of the play in their zone and we outplayed them. We played it for Courtney."
Shaftesbury forward Courtney Zajac was taken from the ice to hospital by ambulance in the second period after being involved in a collision by the POE bench during a line change. Her prognosis is positive but she was expected to stay in hospital overnight for observation.