girls hockey

Rebuilding year forecasted for Lady Gens hockey team



By Ron Giofu


The General Amherst Lady Gens opened the 2017-18 WECSSAA girls hockey season with a 1-1 tie but the season may be more difficult than years past.

The graduation of some key players off of last year’s team has given the Lady Gens a younger roster and one that its head coach Dan Pettypiece said will require some patience.

“The biggest thing I’m going to have to adjust to and the girls are going to have to adjust to is that we are in a rebuilding state,” said Pettypiece after Monday afternoon’s 1-1 tie with Massey.

Pettypiece said there are six Grade 9 players on this year’s Lady Gens squad and they are going to make mistakes.

“Today’s game showed that,” he said.

Instead of making plays when they had the opportunity, the Lady Gens rushed with the puck and gave it away. They have to learn to be patient, said Pettypiece, adding he’d rather see players have the puck taken from them than to just give it away.

“Right now, they are fighting the puck,” he added.

The Lady Gens were late getting onto the ice Monday, and Pettypiece said they weren’t ready to play.

The strong teams they’ve had in the last four years have moved on, he added.

“Those days are done. We’re writing a new story now,” said Pettypiece.

Jaycie Stanek had the lone goal against Massey while Jaiden Stiles played well in goal, Pettypiece stated. He said there were things that didn’t go well in that game and possibly cost them a chance to win. He added they were missing a couple of players as well.

“This team is going to take time to gel,” he said. “It’s about being patient with them and them being patient with themselves.”

General Amherst hosts Essex today in a 3:15 p.m. game at the Libro Centre.

Sold out hockey school focuses strictly on girls



By Ron Giofu


An all-girls hockey camp started last Wednesday night with the ice at the Libro Centre filled with players ages 6-15.

The camp is in its second year and is being directed by Bill Atkinson and Dan Pettypiece. Atkinson said it allows players to “go back to basics” and learn the finer points of the game. The clinic started last year with 36 kids and is sold out this year with over 60 players enrolled.

“It’s the kinds of things coaches can’t do in the middle of the season because they don’t have enough ice time,” said Atkinson.

There are not a lot of all-girls camps, Atkinson believes, and they try to make the clinic at the Libro Centre affordable for everyone. He said a lot of girls don’t feel comfortable on the ice with boys and they are more enthusiastic when they get to compete against other girls.

Girls from around the area have been taking the ice at the Libro Centre for a hockey school.

Girls from around the area have been taking the ice at the Libro Centre for a hockey school.

Atkinson said the all-girls approach works for his three daughters and believes it works better for other girls, as they are not as intimidated on the ice and more motivated.

“I wouldn’t be able to get any of them to go to a mostly boys camp,” said Atkinson.

While basic skating and puck handing skills are taught, Atkinson added they aren’t necessarily trying to create superstars.

“We’re going to teach you how to play hockey so you can enjoy the game,” he said.

Atkinson said there are other coaches as well, including a goalie coach and three girls getting an initial exposure to coaching. He said it is great not only helping players develop, but allowing others to give back through coaching.

The bulk of the players are from Amherstburg, he added, though there are players from LaSalle and Harrow in the camp as well as some others from around the area.

The school has two sessions each Wednesday night through Aug. 23 and also runs Aug. 29.

Weekly girls hockey clinic to run Wednesdays starting July 26


By Ron Giofu

A girls hockey summer training program is returning to the Libro Centre.

Bill Atkinson is the director of the female power skating and hockey clinic and Dan Pettypiece is the co-director. It starts July 26 and runs for six weeks for ages 6-15.

“We actually started the program last summer recognizing there was a need for strictly girls hockey programs in the area,” said Pettypiece. “We had one group last year ranging in age 5 to 15 which presented some challenges with the different skill levels all being on the ice at once.”

Pettypiece noted the program was sold out and it had a waiting list.

“This year we decided to offer two age groups (6-10 and 11-15). Bill worked approximately15 years for me back in the old Tri-Com Hockey School days and after several years away from the business he decided to jump back in. One of the motivating factors for him was the fact that he now has three girls playing hockey and he enjoys being a part of their hockey experience. He is very passionate about teaching the skills especially skating.”

Pettypiece said they have always been on the same page in that regards. He stated Atkinson has been coaching and teaching the game for over 20 years. As for Pettypiece, he said he has never ever been able to leave the game that has meant so much to him.

“I have been coaching and running hockey programs for 40 years now and I still have the same passion as when I started,” said Pettypiece.

The weekly sessions will include a focus on power skating but they will also work on hockey skills each 90-minute session.

Some of the other instructors will be Taylor Conte from the University of Windsor Lancers, Carson Clarke Bartolo and Allison Langille from the Windsor Wildcat midget travel team. It will also feature goalie instructor Jason Dion. The fee is $140.

“One of our main philosophies in teaching skating and hockey skills is emphasizing proper techniques, with drill progression and correcting bad habits,” said Pettypiece. “Too many programs seem to just run drills and have lots of gadgets on the ice but there is not a lot of teaching and correcting which prohibits skill development. We try to slow them down and break the skills down into smaller parts. Otherwise you are not doing your job which is to improve their skill level.”

There are 40 girls registered and they have up to 20 spots available. Contact Bill Atkinson at to register.

“We are looking forward to getting back on the ice and working with the girls,” said Pettypiece.

The clinics run each Wednesday from 6-7:20 p.m. and 7:30-8:50 p.m.

Villanova girls hockey team captures SWOSSAA championship



By Ron Giofu


The St. Thomas of Villanova girls hockey team is heading for OFSAA after winning the SWOSSAA “AAA/AAAA” title last Tuesday afternoon.

The Wildcats and the Chatham-Kent Hawks couldn’t settle things in the first three periods or in the first three overtime periods but Alessandra Schembri ended things with just 11.4 seconds left in the fourth overtime to give the Wildcats the 1-0 win.

Schembri said she pushed the puck past the Hawks’ defense and ended up on a breakaway. Stopped on her first attempt to score, she picked up the rebound and ended the game.

“Before I knew it, the puck was in the net,” said Schembri. “It was surreal. I didn’t know what happened. I was at a loss for words. I was trampled by my teammates.”

The St. Thomas of Villanova Wildcats  gather for a group  picture after capturing the SWOSSAA AAA/AAAA title last Tuesday.

The St. Thomas of Villanova Wildcats gather for a group picture after capturing the SWOSSAA AAA/AAAA title last Tuesday.

It was a fast-paced game, Schembri added, but the scoring chances were kept to a minimum.

“There wasn’t a lot of room out there but we worked hard and pushed through,” she said.

Captain Carli Dumeah motivated the team between every period, Schembri added, and “we all worked hard for her.” It was also an emotional game for the senior players, as they are in their final year of high school hockey.

Villanova head coach John Purdie pointed out that Chatham-Kent was undefeated coming into the game while the Wildcats lost only once during the season. Both teams allowed less than one goal per game during the season.

Purdie said their loss was to Chatham-Kent, a 3-1 defeat at a Christmas tournament. He said the Hawks “snuck up on us” as the Wildcats were not expecting them to be as strong as they were.

Since that game, the Wildcats made beating Chatham-Kent one of their missions this year.

“Our goal from Day 1 was to get to OFSAA and win OFSAA,” said Purdie. “We said it all year, this was a step towards the end goal.”

The Wildcats figure they can do well at OFSAA, which is March 21-24 in Mississauga. Purdie said they may be one of the smaller schools there, but they have a lot of elite players and have proven they can play with some of the best in Ontario.

Villanova’s Allison Langille (87) drives around Chatham-Kent’s Kirsten Horney during last week’s SWOSSAA title game at the Libro Centre.

Villanova’s Allison Langille (87) drives around Chatham-Kent’s Kirsten Horney during last week’s SWOSSAA title game at the Libro Centre.

“This is the most complete team we’ve ever had,” said Purdie. “The depth of this team is amazing.”

Both goalies – Kristen Swiatoschik and Erica Fryer – give the team a chance to win and Purdie believes they could medal with either of them.

The Wildcats expected the SWOSSAA final to be a tight hockey game and Purdie stressed to the players to not let a bad bounce beat them. He also credited the referees, who “did a great job letting them play.” There wasn’t a single penalty called in the game.

Players come from Amherstburg, Harrow and LaSalle, Purdie noted.

“I think this is the kind of hockey team that brings communities together,” he added.

Lady Gens start WECSSAA finals with a loss



By Ron Giofu


The General Amherst Lady Gens didn’t start the WECSSAA AA girls hockey final the way they wanted but will look to regroup this week.

The Lady Gens hosted L’Essor Monday afternoon at the Libro Centre in Game 1 of the finals but lost 3-1. Cate Hubbell’s goal with just 33.2 seconds left in the third period was the lone goal for Amherst.

“They seemed to be fighting the puck today,” said assistant coach Dan Pettypiece. “We didn’t get any flow going.”

The players have to understand they will no longer have the time and space they had earlier in the season against weaker teams and have to bear down and make good plays with the puck. They can’t get down on themselves and have to take the extra half-second to make the play instead of rushing with the puck.

The Lady Gens hadn’t allowed a goal in the playoffs until Monday and Pettypiece said they can’t just expect goalie Megan Wismer to carry them every night. Other players have to step up as well.

General Amherst's Katie Stevenson (15, yellow jersey) pulls away from Leamington defenders during semi-final action last Wednesday afternoon at the Libro Centre.

General Amherst’s Katie Stevenson (15, yellow jersey) pulls away from Leamington defenders during semi-final action last Wednesday afternoon at the Libro Centre.

General Amherst made it to the finals thanks to a two-game sweep in the WECSSAA semi-finals. The Lady Gens polished off the Leamington Lions in the semi-finals last Wednesday at the Libro Centre after winning Game 1 in Leamington a week earlier.

Much like they did the previous week in Leamington, the Lady Gens got a goal from Savannah Bouzide and a shutout from goalie Megan Wismer and won a 1-0 decision. Bouzide’s goal in the second game of the best-of-three series came late in the second period.

“It feels awesome,” said captain Emily Hamelin after beating Leamington. “They were really close games.”

Emily said they went the extra mile and drove to the net but said they need to get more shots and work harder at getting the puck out of their own end in an effort to generate more offense.

The Lady Gens were thrilled about getting back to the WECSSAA final for the fourth straight year.

“No one really thought we could get here,” said Emily.

Amherst head coach Scott Hamelin said the girls earned the trip to the finals. He said they played their best hockey of the second game against the Lions in the third period.

The entire team, from the Grade 9 players to the Grade 12 players, all pulled together, Scott added.

“They all did their part and they all competed well,” he said.

Wismer played well and that helped them overcome a very good Leamington team, Scott stated. He said the team showed a lot of character and it paid off.

They need to stop panicking with the puck and be less nervous with it, he added, and that will help them get the puck out of their zone and create offense. Simplifying and taking care of their own end will translate into good things, he said.

Winning games like the two against Leamington will help in the long run, Scott said after last Wednesday’s game, as it gives the players more experience on what to do in pressure situations.

“This team always finds a way to win,” he said after the Leamington series.

Game 2 against L’Essor will be in Tecumseh today and Game 3, if necessary, will be at the Libro Centre Thursday at 2:30 p.m.