Sports High School Sports

Lancers make third straight OFSAA trip

By Mark Malone, Postmedia Network

The Lambton Central Lancers celebrate their 1-0 overtime win against the Wallaceburg Tartans in the LKSSAA 'A-AA' girls' hockey final at Wallaceburg Memorial Arena in Wallaceburg, Ont., on Thursday, March 1, 2018. (Mark Malone/Postmedia Network)

The Lambton Central Lancers celebrate their 1-0 overtime win against the Wallaceburg Tartans in the LKSSAA 'A-AA' girls' hockey final at Wallaceburg Memorial Arena in Wallaceburg, Ont., on Thursday, March 1, 2018. (Mark Malone/Postmedia Network)

The Lambton Central Lancers have completed their hat trick.

They're playing for the third straight year at the OFSAA A/AA girls' hockey championship, which begins Wednesday in Timmins.

“It's quite an achievement,” head coach Lacey McPhail said.

The Lancers have done so well in recent years, new players almost expect to make the tournament. They don't know getting this far is a big deal, McPhail said.

“They'll understand when they get there because the atmosphere is incredible,” she said.

The No. 14-seeded Lancers will rely on their nine Grade 12 players to educate the newcomers. Most of those veterans, including captains Becka Jackson, Megan Dupuis and Lyndsi Hull, have gone to OFSAA all three years.

“They have that experience,” McPhail said. “They know what to expect. They know the calibre of players we're expecting to see. We'll need their guidance.”

The Lancers will play No. 1 Rockland L'Escale, the defending gold medallists, in Wednesday's opening game and then face No. 12 Belleville Moira. They'll end pool play Thursday against No. 7 Barrie St. Joseph's.

“It's evident how much heart and how much drive we have,” McPhail said. “We have a lot of depth. We have strong forwards that play well together because they're on the same team in club hockey. … Our defence is all solid defenders, smart players, good players. And when our goalie (Riley Blancher) is on, I think we have one of the best goaltenders in Ontario.”

The Lancers were 1-2 in pool play in 2016, then went all the way to the consolation final. The consolation playoffs were eliminated in 2017, so the Lancers came home after going 1-2 in their pool again.

“The goal for us is for everyone to play their best, and to try and match that record we've had in the past or better it,” McPhail said. “(We want to) play the best hockey we can play.”

This is the first year Lambton Central has teams at the OFSAA boys' and girls' tournaments.

The No. 5 Lancers began pool play at the boys' championship Tuesday by going 0-1-1 in Collingwood.

They tied 1-1 with No. 10 Simcoe Holy Trinity and lost 4-1 to No. 3 King City. They'll play No. 18 Woodstock Huron Park on Wednesday and No. 15 Madoc Centre Hastings on Thursday.