PEMBINA, MB — When the Gridlink Midget A Queens accepted an invite to the Pembina Valley Hawks AAA Thanksgiving Classic Showcase, they had no misgivings about what they were getting into.
“It’s a AAA tourney and we're a junior single A team so we're not expecting a win.” told Queens Manager, Margaret Sparks, “The purpose was to make our girls work hard under pressure and put the systems they have been learning into action.”
Thunder Bay opened up the tournament Friday night losing 5-1 to the Yellowhead Chiefs. Queens Captain Caitlin Olinski would notch the only goal. On Saturday morning, Sarah Grieve and Hannah Leung would both respond with a goal each against host, Pembina Valley Hawks, in a 7-2 loss and then Olinski and Sibley Duckert would score against Central Plains in an 8-2 loss that evening.
Despite the lopsided scores, the girls trusted the process, “At first when we heard it was a triple A tournament we were all a bit nervous” explained Queens forward, Gaby Andreacchi “but within the first two games we realized were there at that level of play. And yes the scores were not in our favour but I felt like we all together as a team got progressively better. When we get back to Thunder Bay we are going to have to work on executing and fine tuning plays”. Emboldened by the experience, Gaby added “I would really love to come back and play all these teams again in a few months.”
On Sunday morning, the Midget As faced their final AAA opponent in Pilot Mound. The Queens would draw first blood just 1:44 into the game on a goal from Sarah Grieve. Pilot Mound responded quickly with a goal just under 4-minutes later and then added the go-ahead goal before the end of the period. In the second Pilot Mound added to their lead taking a 3-1 advantage into the final frame. With nothing to lose, the Queens pulled their goalie with 4-minutes remaining. Pilot Mound would pot an empty netter to make it 4-1 but with about a minute remaining, Grieve would score on a setup from Jada Leblanc for a very respectable 4-2 final.
“The scores may not reflect it, but we are not giving these games away. They're working for the wins.” Manager Margaret Sparks expressed. And despite the 0-4 record, this is about a process, not hardware. “Our season end goal is a provincial medal and not a rack of trophies along the way.”