Vernon Vixens celebrate their Queens on Ice women’s hockey tournament victory in Merritt. (Photo submitted)

Vernon Vixens vex Interior Storm

Vernon squad wins Queens on Ice hockey tournament in Merritt

The Caliber Sport Systems Vernon Vixens were the queens of the Nicola Valley Jan. 18-20.

The Vixens allowed one goal against in four games in capturing the Queens on Ice tournament, beating the Interior Storm of Kamloops 1-0 in the championship final.

RELATED: Vixens reach semis in Nelson

The Interior Storm’s youthful tenacity and quick play were no match for the Vixen’s smooth, fluid team play and outstanding goaltending. This matchup made for a hard-fought, fair battle with only two penalties called, a few injuries and constant snowy jerseys.

Caliber Sport Systems’ mother-daughter defensive combo Christine Duggan and Cassie Bosworth controlled the game with calm, patient puck movement while stepping off their line and pinching to create some beauty offensive chances.

RELATED: Family ties keep Vixens close

Cheryl Meier and Carmen Mackintosh’s quick wits and tight gaps closed down many rushes and sparked multiple scoring opportunities including the game-winner by game MVP Sara Martin, set up by Meier. Michaela Case, Bridget Grant and Brooke Berube – who flew in for the tournament after her ride abandoned her – used speed, size and forechecking pressure to wear down the defence and force some close chances.

Martin, Sandra Lord and Vicki Taylor played as a tight unit, beating their opponents with perfect passing and smart positional play. Savannah Long, Angela Russell, and Sasha Podolchak’s hard work, discipline and grit gave rise to some exciting rushes and battles in front of the net.

Brenda Keay was stellar between the pipes all weekend shutting out three of four teams, but most especially earning the shutout in the fast-paced final.

The Vixens played Game 1 against Kamloops Lightning, winning 3-0. Case scored an end-to-end goal, Taylor took a pass in the high slot from Martin and scored, then scored again on an assist from Case.

Vernon then blanked Merritt Fur Real 4-0, Birthday girl Padolchak potted one from the back door; Case beat the goalie cutting across the low slot, and Lord added two goals. Berube, Martin and Taylor drew assists. Game MVP went to Duggan for whiffing on a snapshot.

In their final preliminary game, Caliber Sport Systems overcame a feisty young Ashcroft team 2-1. On a two-man rush, defenceman Meier finished a pass from Martin to open the scoring. Ashcroft responded not long after, with both teams playing at maximum speed and effort. After taking a painful hit, Martin returned to the ice, stripping her backcheck and burying the game-winner. Game MVP went to Lord for her hard work and persistence.

The Vixens received stellar coaching throughout the tournament from injured player Derri Anne Cooper.

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