In Burlington, VT last weekend, the Blazers won their first international championship since joining the highly regarded Junior Women's Hockey League (JWHL) in the Blazers' third season, 2008/09. Behind the bench were Coach Sarah Zacharias, Class of 2008, and Assistant Coach Regan Boulton '09. Winning the championship game in overtime versus North American Hockey Academy (NAHA) on March 10, the Blazers ended the 2018/19 season with a historic victory.
"All this began more than 200 days ago with an intense week of preseason training," says Zacharias.
"The night before our season started, I wrote down a list of five goals that I hoped we could accomplish as a team in the months ahead:
Finish the year .500+. √ 28-20-5
Defeat NAHA (for the first time in five years). √ 5-2, February 2, 2019
Sweep a JWHL regular season weekend. √ February 1-3, 2019, winning four of four games in Rochester, NY
Finish the regular season as one of the top two JWHL teams. √ Ranked second overall with 30 points.
Win JWHL Championship in 2019. √ Won in overtime, defeating NAHA 3-2, on March 10.
"By accomplishing all that and more, these 18 student-athletes made their mark on JWHL history, and they leave a legacy for us here at Balmoral Hall," Zacharias shares.
On a Friday morning in mid-February, I have created a mobile workspace on the concourse of 3M Arena at Mariucci. On campus at University of Minnesota, home seems far away. I hear sounds, though, which transport me to the memories of my childhood. A frozen puck sliding across a snowy ice surface, a shrill whistle interrupting every so often, and then strong, assured voices calling out to one another as that puck moves from stick to stick again and again.
I have never played hockey, but I know the sport well from cheering on my younger siblings for more than 25 years. I have been a BH Blazers Hockey fan for about half that time, since my sister, Michelle, first donned the green and gold in 2007/08. Her teammates that season included Sarah Zacharias and Regan Boulton, who, as coaches of today's Blazers, are now my colleagues at Balmoral Hall School.
The BH Blazers concluded their regular season Sunday morning in Minneapolis, Minn. with a bittersweet 2-3 loss to Ridley College. Although it was the first time in the 2018/19 regular season that they had lost to the Tigers, nonetheless, the Blazers finished second overall in league standings, just two points behind NAHA White of Stowe, Vt. This marks the most successful season for the Blazers in Junior Women's Hockey League (JWHL) history! (The Blazers ranked third in 2011/12.)
’Twas a late night for the Blazers, who were scheduled to play the New England Hockey Club at 9 p.m. Saturday.
And yet, the game, once again at 3M Arena at Mariucci on-campus at University of Minnesota, started just before 9:30 p.m. The Blazers conquered their fatigue for a 6-0 victory, with the shutout to netminder Megan Schroeder, who faced only 11 shots. Scoring for the Blazers were Olivia Cvar (2), Karine Sandilands, Dana Goertzen, Chelsea Krahenbil, and Chiara Esposito.
Fans were treated to a nail-biter this afternoon at 3M Arena at Mariucci as the Blazers faced the Boston Shamrocks, winning the game in the final two minutes of the third period. Much of the game involved the two teams trading power plays and penalty kills. After 40 minutes, both had scored twice, with Olivia Cvar and Dana Goertzen scoring for the Blazers.
With 1:59 remaining, the Blazers called a time-out, trailing 2-3 at that point, and pulled goaltender Shayna Moore for an offensive face off that resulted in a beautiful goal from Cvar, assisted by Alix Yallowega, with 1:51 remaining. Yallowega then tallied the game-winning goal herself, assisted by Cvar and Chelsea Dinnin, 35 seconds later.
The BH Blazers U19 hockey team is in Minneapolis, Minn. for the final series of the 2018/19 regular season, ranking second overall in league standings at the start of the weekend.
This morning, a hard-fought battle versus the Ottawa Lady 67’s ended in a 4-4 tie after a late goal from the 67’s sent the game into overtime. After five minutes of 3-on-3 hockey, however, both teams remained scoreless. Veteran goaltender Megan Schroeder made 32 saves, and, on the opposite end of the rink, Chelsea Dinnin, Alix Yallowega, Rebecca Thiessen, and Olivia Cvar scored for the Blazers.
At the 2018 IIHF Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia (CCOA) Division I tournament in Malaysia, there was one player who lit up the scoreboard at a rate of 2.67 goals per game. Bianca Cuevas scored eight goals (and notched one assist) in three games for the Philippines’ national women’s hockey team. Her eight goals were more than any other female player in both of 2018’s CCOA and CCOA Division I tournaments.
During the last weekend in April, BH Blazers Assistant Coach Regan Boulton '09, along with current Grade 11 student and Junior Women's Hockey League (JWHL) All-Star Kennesha Miswaggon, and I visited the northern Manitoba community of Cross Lake to host a developmental hockey camp at no cost to participants.
The Blazers were proud to see three young stars wear a Manitoba jersey as part of the first-ever Female U-16 Team Manitoba.
Last weekend, Karine Sandilands (Grade 10), Katie Bassett (Grade 10), and Rebecca Thiessen (Grade 10) all participated in the Central Plains pre-season showcase as members of Hockey Manitoba Program of Excellence. Also of note, Sandlilands made history, again, by scoring the team's first goal and later securing her second goal of the tournament on the same night. Congratulations to all!
In recent years, the importance of taking some time away from the rink has been preached by players and coaches alike. The belief is that players can wear themselves out playing one sport for 10-12 months of the year, resulting in what is known as burnout (a.k.a. "overtraining" or "overuse injury"). Allowing players to have some time away from one sport to focus on another is great for motor skills, furthers skill development in different areas, and overall gives players a chance to yearn to get back on the ice, which is a feeling every coach wants for her players.
At Balmoral Hall, we encourage our athletes to hang up their skates now and then to enjoy some of the other sports the school has to offer. The Blazers have seen players compete in cross-country, track and field, volleyball, basketball, badminton, soccer, and ultimate.
To say that the past few years of my life have been a whirlwind would be an understatement.
Walking through the doors of Balmoral Hall School as a Grade 9 student, I could never have dreamed where my life would lead. If someone had told me that in four years, I would be playing Division I hockey at an Ivy League school, I don’t know if I would have believed them; this is mostly due to the fact that I had no idea what an Ivy League school was at age 14, and yet here I am. Really, it’s hard to believe that eight months ago I packed up to move halfway across the continent, following my dreams. When the time came, I was as nervous as anyone moving away from home for the first time, but once I stepped on campus I knew this is where I belong. By now, Dartmouth has become my home.