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Bantam B make Woolwich Wild history with division, league & provincial golds

The Woolwich Wild Bantam B squad took a celebratory fire truck ride through Elmira on Tuesday during the end-of-year banquet held at the Lions Hall. Team members are Sophie Beyer, Olivia Bloemberg, Rachel Christenson, Marlee Fraser, Kaitlyn Hyatt, Kaitlyn Lee, Gwyneth Martin, Madison Martin, Madison Meincke, Brooke Rempel, Margaret Sabean, Taylor Schmitt, Cara Wing, Emma Wiseman and Tia Zettel. Staff are coach Trevor Lee, assistant coaches Kevin Schmitt and Scott Hyatt, and trainer Kelly Lee and Kim Wiseman. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

There was plenty to celebrate at this Tuesday’s end-of-year banquet as the Woolwich Wild capped off the season on a high note. Several teams brought home the gold medals this year, from the local leagues through to the provincials, with one team in particular, the Bantam B squad, making Woolwich Wild history.

The Bantam B squad became the first team in the Wild’s 17-year history to claim first-place finishes at the division, league and provincial girls’ championship tournaments this year.

“They had a phenomenal year,” said Kevin Schmitt, Woolwich Wild president and coach for the Bantam B team.

Four rep. teams from the Wild made a showing at the provincials this year: the Atom A, the Peewee BB, Bantam B and Midget BB, with the Bantam B’s coming home with the gold. Both the Bantam B and the Novice B teams, meanwhile, claimed the top spot in their respective Lower Lakes divisions.

For the Bantam B, the record setting season is a far cry from where the team started off in September of last year.

“The team almost folded due to lack of players,” said Schmitt. The team’s season was almost over before it had even began, until the organization rallied to fill the roster. The team looked at neighbouring hockey minor organizations for players that had just been released to join the Wild Bantam B. The Bantam team needed ten players to ice a team, and instead they got 11.

“And by the end of the day, by the time the scheduling meeting came around which was the end of September, lo-and-behold we had 11 players, so we had enough. We went to the point that in order to make the team work, both our goalies played out  when they were not playing in net.”

Going from a few players short of a full team to the provincial champs was certainly an accomplishment for the Bantam squad. But beyond that, the team also brought home the gold medals from all three tournaments they played in this year, in Orillia, Guelph and Stratford.

“They are the first team, from what we can tell, from Woolwich [Wild] history to win the division championship… They were the Lower Lake Central West division champs. They won the Lower Lakes league championships, which is the best of the best tournament. That’s the hard one to win.

“And then they won provincials as well,” added Schmitt. “They were the first team in Woolwich to win division, league and provincials in our young existence – in our 17 years. Which is quite the accomplishment.”

While the rep. teams racked up the wins, several teams in the local leagues had strong showings as well. This season saw the intermediate Wild team win gold, the Novice LL#2 pick up the silver, and the Atom and Novice LL#1 place as league semi-finalists.

With the season over, the Woolwich Wild will have some time to celebrate before they’re once more on the ice to start all over again.

In the meantime, the Woolwich Wild will once again be hosting the “Come and Try Girls’ Hockey” to encourage new recruits. The minor hockey organization has seen consistent growth year-over-year, says Schmitt, with interest amongst girls in Canada’s pastime seeing a strong surge in the community.

The Come and Try event is open to girls turning 4 to 12 by the end of the 2019, and will be held at the Woolwich Memorial Centre on Saturday April 27, starting at 11:30 a.m.

CSA approved helmets, face masks, skates, sticks and gloves are required for participants, with the Woolwich Wild able arrange equipment loans. Those hoping to borrow equipment from Woolwich Wild are encouraged to contact Jacinta Faries before April 27 at jfaries@rogers.com, or by calling 519-669-8625.

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