Ottawa Sportspage

Page 1

The Heartbeat of the Ottawa Sports Community HOME ICE ADVANTAGE PAYS OFF

Vol. 2, #7

April 2013

Women’s world hockey championships provides the chance to dream for young players, as well as Canada’s #3 goalie in bitter gold medal loss By Josh Bell

P. 12

Local teams won over twice as many medals at this year’s OWHA championships in Ottawa compared to last season.


P. 2

The Nepean Ravens U19 Belle team improved on their bronze medal result from last year by winning national ringette gold.


P. 3

Local gymnasts scored six all-around titles and plenty more medals at the April 4-7 Ontario championships.


It was an incongruous sight: the RCMP mounties standing on guard for... The Star-Spangled Banner. It wasn’t the outcome Ottawa wanted from the home team at the 2013 IIHF world women’s hockey championships. The dream of second miracle comeback against USA had ended moments earlier following a furious scramble in the dying seconds of a 3-2 game. When the final buzzer sounded, the sea of red jerseys inside Scotiabank Place fell silent, only cheers from the U.S. champions audible. Watching it all unfold, painfully, from press row was Geneviève Lacasse. The Team Canada goaltender with Ottawa ties tasted defeat in a world championships final for the first time, having won gold with her country last year in Vermont. “I was really discouraged,” Lacasse says solemnly. There was one uplifting sight that masked the bitter defeat for a moment though. Before they skated off the ice with their silver medals, Team Canada raised their sticks in salute to the crowd, and received a hearty ovation in return from those who remained in the arena. As the players made their way towards the exit under Section 105, tons of young girls’ hockey players crammed against the railings, applauding their heroes despite the defeat. “That has been the coolest thing about being here – the fans and everyone supporting us,” Lacasse notes. “We have the best fans in the world. Even after we lost, they are all still there cheering for us. Absolutely the best fans in the world, no other fans would do that.”


P. 7

It was a fourth title in five years for the Carleton Ravens seniors, and a record-breaking 11th for the school.

Geneviève Lacasse’s journey to Team Canada began back on the streets of Kingston, where her older brother would stick her in the net for road hockey. “We played road hockey every day after school,” the 23-year-old smiles. “Then I tried figure skating and I didn’t like it. I told my mom that it hurt my head because you have to pull your hair tight back. So I got into

hockey. I was a player for a year, then I split player and goalie and finally I was a full-time goalie.” Lacasse’s father was a member of the Canadian armed forces, which led to her first experience with organized hockey. “I didn’t start hockey until eight years old – a little bit late,” she explains. “I played for the team on base, for Fort Henry, with all the military kids. Then I played for the Titans, a boys’ team.” Lacasse may have been a latebloomer, but her success came in a hurry. The Hockey East rookie-ofthe-year and team MVP compiled a long list of achievements and honours during four years at Providence College, where she studied chemistry. Lacasse caught the eye of national team staff then, and wound up wear-

ing the maple leaf for international tournaments with the under-22 squad such as the MLP Cup in Switzerland. “It’s a huge honour to wear it, even if it’s just practice, or for games,” notes the athlete who moved to Ottawa for summertime training last year. “Just to put on the jersey, I feel so lucky and fortunate.”

RETURN HOME FOR PRE-TOURNEY Drafted ninth overall by the Boston Blades in the 2012 Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) Draft, Lacasse backstopped the Blades to a league championship in her rookie year, just before Team Canada assembled in advance of the April 2-9 worlds. Before the first puck dropped, Lacasse and Team Canada spent five days in Petawawa, where she’d lived


for two years when she was younger. “It was cool being with the troops,” says Lacasse, whose father now lives in Limoges. “We got to shoot some guns, we rode in a tank, and we even played some Call of Duty simulation stuff. It was a lot of fun. Being on base, seeing mess dinner where we used to eat, it’s very different living accommodations that we’re not used to. We were in the barracks, had to make our beds and had to walk to the communal bathroom. I think it was all good.”

CANADA-USA RIVALRY HEATS UP The tournament-opener against arch-rival USA marked Lacasse’s first view of a world championships game on home soil. IIHF continued on p.10


“Encourage your children to play at least three different sports they enjoy.” - Coaching Association of Canada

Why not make ULTIMATE one of them!


Nepean Ravens reach top ringette rung The Nepean Ravens U19 Belle team went undefeated at nationals.

Ultimate is a fantastic sport that also helps with cross-training for other activities, whilst making new friends and having fun!

Photos credit (1 and 3): Liz St-Jean

Youth (9-13 yrs old) Monday 6:30-8:00pm Orleans at Portobello Park: May 27 - June 24 Kanata at Rickey Place Park: May 27 - June 24 Nepean at Ben Franklin Park: May 27 - August 19 Ottawa at Lynda Lane Park: May 27 - August 19 Our Youth and Junior Programs are back for an 8th year! Each player will learn skills and have fun while being supervised by a team of Head Coaches and Coaches.

Junior (14-18 yrs old) Recreational Junior Monday 6:30-8:00 pm Ottawa at Lynda Lane Park: May 27 - August 19 Competitive Junior Capital Punishment (junior men) Wicked (junior women) Tryouts: Sunday April 21 and 28, 8-10pm, at Hillcrest High School—$14 for one, $20 for both tryouts

FIRST YEAR PLAYING ULTIMATE? GET A DISCOUNT! Kanata / Orleans: $44* Ottawa / Nepean: $93 * Junior recreational: $93*

FREE JERSEY with registration! *registration cost per child Regular cost is : $72 for Kanata/Orleans; $155 for Ottawa/Nepean/Junior

By Scott Villemaire They settled for bronze last year, but the Nepean Ravens weren’t going to be denied the gold medal this time around in the U19 Belle division of the Canadian Ringette Championships April 2-6 in Fredericton, N.B. Trailing 3-1 against the Winnipeg Magic at halftime, Sarah-Lynne Begin scored four second-half goals – all assisted by Karli O’Brien – to lift her Ravens to a 5-4 victory and the national crown. “It was a dream come true,” said Begin, who scored the winning goal on a beauti-

ful top corner shot with 1:14 left. “Every shift I told myself that it was my shift and every ring was my ring.” Nepean went undefeated at nationals, after turning the same trick at provincials. Brittany MacDonald, who scored a hat trick in the semi-finals, was named a tournament firstteam all-star, while Sydney Catlin and Jenna VanKoppen were on the second team. Nepean’s title was a testament to the talent that continuously rises in the association, noted Ravens coach Lary Allen, whose squad won despite the absence of last year’s star, Jennifer Gabel.

photo provided

Gabel, who was selected as the National Ringette League’s rookie of the year, helped the Gloucester Devils return to nationals, where they narrowly missed out on the medal round, falling in minigames to solve a three-way tie for third after the preliminaries. Dave Mainwood (coach of the year) and Jasmine Leblanc (top goaltender) also picked up NRL awards for the Devils. Nepean went 6-1 in the round round but fell in the U16 quarter-finals, while the Ottawa Ice were knocked out in the first round of the U19 playoff round.

Carleton & uOttawa take on Germans & Czechs By Mark Staffieri The IIHF world women’s hockey championships brought about a couple unique opportunities for the local university women’s teams, as both Carleton and uOttawa faced off against Germany and Czech Republic respectively. Ottawa resident Sara Seiler, a former Raven who’s now an assistant coach for Carleton, got to play against her former mates as a member of Team Germany. The game wasn’t without incident, however. Early in the third period, Seiler collided with Ravens defender Erin Beaver, and then as she tried to get up, she tripped and fell again, this time on top of Carleton goalie Eri Kiribuchi. “I felt really sorry and I said sorry to her,” recalled Seiler, who simply shared a laugh with the Ravens. “It was fine and there was no problem there.” The current Ravens reveled in the opportunity to face Seiler and her mates, who won the game 3-0 and went on to finish fifth at the world championships. “It was a lot of fun seeing

Fannie Desforges played her last game as a Gee-Gee against the Czech Republic.

her out there,” said Carleton senior Kelsey Vander Veen, who played her last game as a Raven. “She is a skilled player and fun to play against.” uOttawa also bid farewell to a senior who was the face of its program in recent years as captain Fannie Desforges laced ’em up for the final time as a Gee-Gee for the March 31 exhibition. “Going out against an international opponent was a great experience,” highlighted Desforges, who scored a goal in the contest. “It was an awe-

file photo

some way to finish the year.” The match took place at the Canadian International Hockey Academy arena in Rockland, where Czech player Klara Chmelova was a former student. Gee-Gee Maude Laramée thought the game was quite valuable for her squad. “Playing against an international team showed what it takes,” said Laramée, whose team fell 6-3 on two late goals. “It was a good experience and showed where I can improve and where my strengths are.”


SRB & Osgoode medal as national capital saves OFSAA curling event By Josh Bell

Two local schools won medals at the OFSAA curling championships – hosted unexpectedly in Ottawa from March 20-23 – and as much as they treasured their prizes, simply getting the chance to compete was big for the Sir Robert Borden girls and the Osgoode Township boys. After each receiving their medals, all eight teams from across the province gave a special thanks to the organizing committee led by Dwayne Scullion from St. Paul Catholic High School. When the original intended organizers from Gravenhurst pulled out due to the teachers’ labour conflict with the provincial government, Scullion found ice at public clubs all over town, from Navan to Carp, in the space of a few weeks to save OFSAA curling from cancellation. Several other winter OFSAAs had already been wiped out, including the OFSAA snowboard festival, which the national capital had been slated to host. “I’m not really sure what the expectations were, especially after being cancelled,” Scullion noted.

photo: dan plouffe

“There were a lot of people going ‘Oh my God, there’s an OFSAA again!’ after the disappointment of losing it. So it’s just been great.” Stuart Leslie was especially grateful to see the event come back to life. The skip of Osgoode’s bronze medal-winning rink was one of three Grade 12s on the team, along with lead Chris Fliesser and third Jessica Armstrong (who joined the boys since there wasn’t a girls’ team at her school), plus Grade 11 second

Adam Taylor and Grade 9 fifth Sean Armstrong, Jessica’s brother. “When we first heard that Gravenhurst couldn’t host it, we were really bummed out,” explained Leslie, whose team opened with a loss and then rattled off five wins in a row to reach the semi-finals. “This was the one event, in Grade 12, that we really wanted to do. “But when we heard that Dwayne might be taking it on, we were all really supportive. Some of the parents stepped up, because it was a ton of work to do, and they did a really great job.” The Osgoode group had another big thank you for their volunteer coach, Bryan Walsh, who came on board at the last moment so they could enter a team in the national capital league. It was a similar story for the SRB girls, who gave their coaches – a player’s mother and grandmother – a nice reward for their work by earning the antique-bronze medal for

Doc Hockey Corner

Stockpiling for Overtime

--By Dr. Shayne Baylis, Doc Hockey This month we are putting the injury topics aside and diving into something very applicable to this time of year. In this article we will discuss nutrition that is necessary late in the season and for the playoffs to maintain recovery pre-game, and post-game. It may not be the first shift or the second period that you feel that dip in energy, but rather Game 7 overtime. You’ve been double-shifting and your opponent has a step on you to the net and your legs are heavy and not responding with the same speed and vigour you are accustomed to. You might be wondering what’s wrong and where is my energy? Have you thought about your eating habits? To perform a constant high-energy level night after night, we need the right nutrition and recovery time for the workload we put on our bodies as athletes. For athletes, the need for adequate energy is a necessity before workouts and games to ensure we are not burning off protein from our muscles. As a result, athletes are in need of protein for repair (hopefully not for energy) and complex carbohydrates for lasting energy and rapid recovery. Protein requirements are generally projected at 1.5 g per kg of body weight. These types of energy fuel your muscles and brain and last longer than those simple and refined sugars that are rapidly absorbed and leave you fatigued in only a short time. Simple refined sugar products include white sugar, white breads, anything made with white flour or bleached, pastas and rice (white), candies of all sorts, cakes, and processed snacks.

Complex carbohydrates help stabilize energy levels and are the most crucial sources of energy for game day energy. A good mix of protein to build muscle and slow down sugar absorption and fibre are also essential for lowering blood sugar. Good sources of complex carbs include sweet potatoes (with skin), quinoa, wild rice, brown rice and whole grain pasta. When I was playing hockey for Niagara University, we would have pregame meal at 2 or 3 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game. I would stuff myself with chicken, salad, potatoes, cooked vegetables, bread, pasta with tomato sauce (no alfredo), and a favourite to all players – cookies. We would just eat everything without thinking of what energy sources were most required by our body.

MEALS MADE FOR ATHLETES Good sources of complex carbohydrates, fibre (vegetables), protein and healthy fats are required to provide long-lasting energy. One option recommended by the Gary Roberts High Performance Centre is chicken cacciatore (for protein) with lots of vegetables (carbohydrates carbs and fibre) over quinoa (complex carbs and protein) with a side of garden salad (complex carbs and fibre), sprinkled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing (healthy fats). This balanced meal removes the heavy feeling of eating too much saturated fat and simple sugars. Feeling your best is half the battle. Asking yourself what you should be eating on a regular basis, before and after games, and at what times, is key to making strides towards your goals for success. And it just might net you that OT winner. Visit or call 613-371-4774.

@doc_hockey doc hockey PREVENTION - PERFORMANCE - RECOVERY


Game day breakfast: Three soft boiled eggs with a pinch of sea salt and two pieces of whole grain toast with organic butter, small Greek yogurt & fruit mix with flax seeds. Pre-Game Meal (2-3 hours before): Grilled skinless chicken breast with brown rice, broccoli and a salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil and

balsamic vinegar. Pre-Game Snack: Oatmeal with ground flax seeds, walnuts, banana, unsweetened shredded coconut, and a drizzle of pure maple syrup! Try this 1.5 hours before a game or practice and let me know how you feel! Post-Game Recovery Shake: Six ounces coconut water, six ounces water, 2 scoops

fourth place. “It just feels awesome,” described Grade 10 skip Melissa Wong, who’d been aiming to reach the quarter-finals along with third Erin Janna, second Mara Ostafichuk and lead Madison Erbach. “We’re really proud we made it this far. We’re just so happy.” St. Catharines’ Sir Winston Churchill Secondary won the boys’ event, Norwell District girls from Palmerston (north of Guelph) earned gold in their division, and over 150 other athletes got the chance to compete in OFSAA – a potential launching pad towards a bigger stage, or a tool to develop a lifelong connection to a sport. That was the case for the Nepean High School girls, who didn’t finish as

BioSteel Recovery Formula (or other good quality protein – protein and carbs with no added junk) and a banana. Post-Game meal: Grilled skinless chicken breast, sweet potato and asparagus. A good blend of lean protein, complex/nutrient-dense carbohydrates and veggies. The foods your body needs to repair itself!

well as they hoped, but were nonetheless enthused by the good-luck message they received from NHS grad Lisa Weagle, who won world championships bronze as a member of Team Homan, which also includes SRB grad Alison Kreviazuk at second. “It was pretty awesome and really encouraging,” said Nepean lead Rebecca Drolet. “It really gave us a pump up.” It also made them think about their curling future, she added. Drolet said she “absolutely” wants to continue to curl, and having Weagle as inspiration helps. “Having someone as good as she is telling us that we have a chance,” Drolet highlighted, “it really makes us think that there’s a possibility for the future.” —with files from Dan Plouffe




Wiebe’s sr. gold leads capital’s trio of national champs By Braedon Clark Two National Capital Wrestling Club athletes won Canadian titles at the cadet/juvenile national championships, while a NCWC alum showed the budding female wrestlers the way by winning a senior national title and a Pan American championships bronze medal in March and April. Erica Wiebe was a long way away from a trip to Panama for the Pan Ams after opening her March 23 nationals with a loss by points, forcing her to look for pinfalls in her remaining matches in order to win the women’s 72 kg class. Wiebe pinned opponents from Sudbury and Regina in her next two matches, and turned the trick again in her final contest against the silver medalist from B.C. “As soon as we started wrestling in the first round, I could feel the nervous energy in her body,” describes the 23-year-old. “That gave me confidence because I knew she was uncertain and she knew how badly I wanted it.”

GYMNAST & SOCCER PLAYER FIRST Of course, the Stittsville native was considerably farther from that destiny when she began her athletic career as a young rhythmic gymnast.

Ottawa native Erica Wiebe was the Canadian women’s 72 kg champion and won bronze at the Pan Am championships.

Taylor Robinson & Augusta Eve.

Erica Wiebe

for Canadian representative Leah Callahan, a Calgary clubmate.

SET TO CHASE RIO 2016 BERTH Wiebe later turned to soccer and was recruited by American schools as an Ottawa Fury player. Florida Atlantic had offered her a full athletic scholarship, but by that point Wiebe had discovered her sports soul mate in wrestling. She chose to join the University of Calgary’s powerful wrestling program, and quickly learned as a rookie why the school was so highly regarded. “I felt like every day I went into the room and didn’t score a single point,” recounts the Sacred Heart Catholic High School grad. “I tried

photos provided

my hardest every time and couldn’t score a single point. But when I went to junior nationals that year I knew no one in my age group had competed against that level of talent and that gave me so much confidence heading into that event and I ended up winning it very easily.” Wiebe went on to win university national titles in her final two years as a Calgary Dino, and came close to claiming a London 2012 Olympics berth, winning her first two matches at the Canadian Olympic trials before a loss left her one rung away from the final. She wound up going to London nonetheless as a sparring partner

Wiebe has her sights set on a claiming her own place for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which could be her last shot at Games glory should the International Olympic Committee’s board ratify an executive decision to drop wrestling from its programme for 2020. “In a 15-minute period, I had about 10 people who know me as Erica-the-wrestler bombard me with these questions (about the IOC decision). I was in disbelief and shock,” recounts the nationally-carded athlete who works as a personal trainer and is studying towards a master’s degree in public health at U of C. “But I haven’t sat down and cried about it. I really believe that the decision isn’t final and that it will be changed.” Wiebe earned a taste of interna-

tional competition thanks to her victory at the Canadian championships, placing third of 10 Pan American wrestlers in Panama. The September world championships in Hungary are a possibility, although Wiebe may first face a wrestle-off for Canada’s berth against Callahan, who missed the nationals due to injury. At the April 4-7 cadet/juvenile Canadian championships in Saskatoon, Taylor Robinson of the NCWC made her nationals debut and took gold in the cadet women’s 80 kg division, winning both her matches in Wiebe fashion, by pinfall. NCWC’s Augusta Eve won gold in the juvenile women’s 43 kg and was second in the Canadian FILA team trials, while Tsunami Academy’s Liam Macfadyen took home bronze in the cadet men’s 54 kg. Torin Macfadyen and Theresa El-Lati of Tsunami, along with NCWC’s Evan Takach, also earned top-6 results.

Ottawa & Nepean battle to Game 7 in CCHL Dalen Hedges (right) was the CCHL’s playoff leading goalscorer heading into his Nepean Raiders’ Game 7 showdown with the Ottawa Jr. Senators.

photo: dan plouffe

By Josh Bell & Dan Plouffe The Ottawa Jr. Senators and Nepean Raiders were locked up 3-3 as their secondround Central Canada Hockey League playoff series went to a deciding game on April 10. The local Jr. ‘A’ rivals were well-matched for battle, as neither team was able to steal a road win. The Jr. Senators entered as regular season champions, while the Raiders

were 2012 league champs. “Most of us went through this last year so we know what to expect,” noted Raiders captain Brent Norris, whose fifthseeded club earned a surprising first-round sweep against the Pembroke Lumber Kings. Ottawa’s key to success this season, signaled CCHL coach of the year Rick Dorval, was “our depth through and through.” “The more we are able to roll four lines, we’ll continue to

be successful by not having to overuse players through a seven-game series,” Dorval said, somewhat prophetically, after his squad swept Hawkesbury in the opening round. Ottawa’s Ryan Collins and Nepean’s Dalen Hedges, a former Jr. Senator, were 2-3 in league playoff scoring with 12 and 11 points respectively. Cornwall and Carleton Place squared off in the other league semi-final.



Wheelchair curling keeps drive alive By Josh Bell For Collinda Joseph, the competitive edge has always been there. Whether it was as a spring-board diver as a teenager, later when she looked to wheelchair basketball following a 1983 train crash in France during a high school senior French trip, or now, as a national-level wheelchair curler. “I’ve played sports ever since I was a kid,” Joseph explains. “My dad always had sports on in the house, we watched them, grew up around them, so it was always something I wanted to do. I hate sitting around not doing anything, so it’s inbred.” The latest stop of Joseph’s athletic journey was as the third for Team Ontario at the March 2431 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships, hosted at the RA Centre. “I was looking for something that was competitive that wasn’t so taxing on my body,” Joseph says of her switch from basketball to curling. “I decided to give it a try in 2006 and I was hooked.” Although she doesn’t get as bashed up on the ice, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a big physical component to her new sport. Without the

advantage of sweepers or a hack to push out of, wheelchair curlers must generate the full force of their shots with their arm, pushing the rock with a stick from a stationary position. That’s meant lots of time weight training in the gym for Joseph, who feels she’s at last reached a good level to deliver solid hits in games. It’s allowed the Stittsville resident to play in several world-class tournaments against Collinda teams from as far as Joseph Scotland and Korea.

PYEONGCHANG 2018 ON RADAR Joseph was also one of 20 athletes considered for Canada’s 2014 Paralympic Games entry, although she’s since been dropped from the narrowed-down group. “2018 Paralympics is my goal if I can hang in that long,” says the mother of two teenage daughters – one who studies at university and the other who plays basketball for the Ottawa Nationals in Ontario’s Junior

West Ottawa Soccer Scoop

Warrior thrives on multi-sport lifestyle at club’s summer camps

photo: dan plouffe

Elite League. “It’s difficult” to fit in all of life’s commitments, smiles Joseph, who works full-time as an analyst for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, spends 15 hours a week curling/training, and travels to Toronto two or three times a month for her daughter’s basketball. “I also have a husband apparently.” Although 3-6 Team Ontario didn’t have a great performance at the national championships won by Quebec, Joseph enjoyed the experience of competing at home. “It’s fun to not have to go too far, and have family come and watch, even though there’s more pressure of being the home city,” she notes. “It’s great for Ottawa to have it here. It raises the profile of the RA and wheelchair curling.”

Noah Nickerson’s life is jam-packed with sports. In the winter, the 11-year-old is a skier, hockey and futsal player, he plays soccer all summer, and enjoys badminton, basketball, track-and-field, volleyball and tchoukball at school. “I find it makes me a better athlete to play all of these different sports,” the U12 West Ottawa Warrior highlights. Nickerson’s love for sports has translated into quite a bit of success too. He’s now preparing for an overseas trip with his soccer team to face some of the best English youth clubs, which comes on the heels of a memorable hockey season that culminated in a league title. “It felt great to win the championship,” recounts Nickerson, who also carries the Warrior name for his West Carleton minor hockey club. “We were all so excited.” Aside from literally being a posterboy for West Ottawa Soccer Club’s summer multisport camps, Nickerson is also a shining example of the all-around athlete approach the club strongly encourages. “It just makes sense to have that base of athleticism,” says Gord Macdonald, WOSC’s multisport program director. “If you focus on that now, you’re going to be better off in the long run in whatever sport you eventually end up playing. “We want our athletes to meet their ultimate potential. We want to give them different avenues of athletic development, not

just soccer specific.”

VARIETY TO MAINTAIN ENTHUSIASM Being involved in many different activities can also help young athletes avoid getting burnt out in any one activity, Macdonald adds. “Playing multiple sports helps to keep them interesting,” Nickerson echoes. “I don’t ever get tired of playing sports.” The Grade 6 St. Michael Fitzroy Catholic Elementary School student participated in both of WOSC’s summer camp offerings last year – the multisport camp and the soccer-specific camp (which features sprinklings of other sports as well). “The camps were great,” Nickerson details. “I love to be with my friends, playing sports.” Participants in the multisport camps take part in a range of activities such as floor hockey, basketball, dodgeball, ultimate, flag football, bocce, handball, touch rugby and disc golf, plus games that involve running, jumping, catching and throwing, or variations of sports like tennis-baseball or scricket (squash and cricket). Swimming and tennis at city facilities also take place. Kids as young as 4 can attend for two hours, and there are half-day (age 6-7) and full-day options as well. The camps are being offered at additional west-end locations this summer – North & South Kanata, Munster, Carp, Dunrobin and Richmond.

EXPERIENCED CAMP STAFF In soccer-specific camps for ages 8-13, players are grouped together based on ability, while there are high-performance soccer camps for players age 11-15 run under the direction of WOSC’s club lead coaches. Campers don’t need to be members of the West Ottawa Soccer Club to participate. The cost of the camps is between $165$200 per week, plus there is the option to get lunch from a catering company. “We hire skilled, mature staff. We don’t cut corners. We pay them well, and that makes a difference in a camper’s experience,” notes Macdonald, a long-time camp organizer who’s now in his second year operating under the WOSC banner. “The response was overwhelmingly good last year,” he adds. “The camps are a lot of fun and tremendous for development.”


The Barrhaven Scottish RFC is one of the biggest rugby clubs in the city and is looking for more great members. We offer programs for kids as young as 4 years old to those who are young at heart. Our structured system allows players to integrate and develop at all levels, with some of our members representing the club provincially, nationally, and internationally. Join us at one of our registration days. For more info, contact Kathleen at or visit:



Male and female siblings share same provincial medal sets By Dan Plouffe

Athletes from local clubs claimed six allaround titles and a pile more medals at the 2013 Ontario men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics championships April 4-7 in Windsor. She didn’t know the significance at the time, but nine-year-old Natalka Forrest’s triumph in the Level 7, Age 9 category on the final day of competition was perhaps the biggest. On the line was her club’s record of approximately 25 consecutive years of having a women’s artistic provincial champion. “We never missed a year, and Natalka was one of the last girls to compete and we hadn’t had a provincial champion,” recounts Ottawa Gymnastics Centre coach Tobie Gorman, who didn’t tell Forrest about the importance even though it was on the coaches’ minds. “We were really nervous, but she did a great job. That was really, really exciting, especially as a nine-yearold.” It was Forrest’s first provincial championships as an athlete, but she’d previously watched her older sister Adrianka win Ontario all-around gold at last year’s provincials in Ottawa. “It helped me a little to know that you don’t really need to be nervous,” explains Forrest, who placed first on floor, uneven bars and balance beam.

WOMEN’S ARTISTIC ALL-AROUND MEDALS OTTAWA CORONA Natalka Forrest Piper Veloso L7 A9 (gold) Level 5 Age 9 (gold) Lily DiTomasso Dianna McAllister L6 A13 (silver) L6 A13 (gold) Nathalie Joanette Jamie LeFort L8 A14+ (silver) L6 A14 (silver) Adrianka Forrest Christina Sartzetakis L9 A12-13 (silver) L6 A11 (bronze) Bella Musca L7 A9 (bronze) MEN’S ARTISTIC EVENT CHAMPIONS OTTAWA TUMBLERS Nicholas Mikhail Justin Perry L4 A13+ rings NO pommel-horse

Nine-year-olds Natalka Forrest of OGC (left) & Corona’s Piper Veloso won their respective Level 7 and Level 5 provincial all-around titles.

photo: dan plouffe

Forrest says it’s great having an older sister at the gym, “just not always at home,” she smiles. “She’s always there for me,” the Grade 4 Broadview Elementary School student highlights. “If I say that I’m nervous, she’ll say, ‘You know what? Just do what you always do.’ She makes me feel better.”

WOMEN’S ARTISTIC EVENT CHAMPIONS TUMBLERS OTTAWA Juliette Chapman Mackenzie Capretta CPN Aspire floor L6 A9 floor Julie-Anne Fiset Ana Maria L9 A10-11 beam Gelinas-Sanchez Beth Webster L6 A13 bars L9 A12-13 beam Grace Boxer CORONA L7 A10-11 vault Manisha Blaskevitch Emma Christie L6 A13 vault L7 A12-13 vault Anna Meech Mackenzie Cox L7 A12-13 bars & floor L8 A14+ vault Jennifer Vo Taylor Pyefinch L8 A12-13 bars L9 A14+ vault Danielle Doan L9 A14+ bars

photo provided

Forrest was “really surprised” when her name was called as provincial champion.

SISTER ACT SHINES SILVER & GOLD “My parents were screaming,” recalls Forrest, whose sister went on to capture all-around silver in the L9, A12-13 category. “I was proud of her. And my parents were screaming even more.” Mirroring the Forrest sister act on the boys’ side at OGC, Arryn Jackle Spriggs followed in the footsteps of his older brother Taylor in becoming a provincial champion, topping the L3, A13+ field. “I was really happy,” says Jackle Spriggs, who won his first Ontario all-around title, while Taylor took silver in the national open category. “I definitely look up to him. He’s just a great role model. I find lots of similarities between us, even though our hair colour is different. That’s about the only difference.” When Jackle Spriggs jumped to the top step of the podium, he soon found a couple of familiar faces beside him. Justin Khalil and Alex St.


MEN’S ALL-AROUND MEDALS NATIONAL CAPITAL Sam Zakutney Tyro High-Performance (gold) OTTAWA James Doucette L1 A10-12 (gold) Arryn Jackle Spriggs L3 A13+ (gold) Justin Khalil L3 A13+ (silver) Taylor Jackle Spriggs National Open (silver) Jaroslav Hojka Sr. HP (silver) Alex St. George L3 A13+ (bronze) TUMBLERS Eric Gauthier National Youth (silver) Nicholas Dugan L4 A13+ (bronze)

George helped OGC to a medal sweep in the division. “That was really great,” notes the Grade 9 Arnprior District High School student. “You don’t usually see three guys from the same club on the podium. It was kind of strange.” James Doucette of OGC also earned the first provincial crown of his career, in L1 A10-12. “I was thinking in my head, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it,’” when the results were read, Doucette signals. The three other local all-around champions came from the Nepean-Corona/National Capital club, as Piper Veloso topped girls’ L5, A9, Dianna McAllister won L6 A13, and Samuel Zakutney was best in Tyro high-performance. “I’ve been wanting to come first for awhile,” highlights McAllister, who’d never placed higher than seventh in two previous provincials. “I was just hoping I’d stick all my routines and do them how I normally do them in the gym, and not get nervous. I was very happy.” GYMNASTICS continues on p.9

Big rhythmic season on tap Francesca Ann Ryan


Where Canada’s Elite Teams Come to Prove Themselves

SHOWCASE OF CHAMPIONS Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

August 2-5th ,2013

JUNIOR - U13, U14 - 80 Minute Games SENIOR - U15, U16, U17 - 90 Minute Games Tournament Features: 1 Game Per Day Format Plus Finals University Coaches from The United States & Canada College Seminar Presentation and Combine

photo: dan plouffe The March 9 Kanata Cup marked the start of a busy competition season for rhythmic gymnastics locally as athletes from the Kanata Rhythmic Gymnastics Club and the Ottawa Rhythmic Gymnastics Club fine-tuned their routines in advance of a provincial qualifier later in the month. Kanata will host its own rhythmic provincial qualifier April 19-21, and also has a hand in organizing the Canadian championships in May. See for full coverage and results.



Raven Smendziuk can finally rest By Josh Bell

It was a picture-perfect finish to Kyle Smendziuk’s basketball career. A fourth Canadian university championship in his five years at Carleton. A dominant 92-42 final victory over Lakehead that his coach would even have trouble criticizing. And a record-breaking ninth title for his Carleton Ravens – all in front of family and friends on March 10 at Scotiabank Place, just down the street from where he plied his craft at All Saints Catholic High School. “We train really hard throughout the year so it’s a nice reward at the end,” highlights Smendziuk, pinpointing work ethic – and Dave Smart-recuited players who embrace that – as the big key to the Ravens’ success. “I think Carleton will be the milestone stage for basketball for me. I don’t see myself playing professional or anything like that,” the starting forward adds. “To be standing there in front of thousands of people, it was definitely a great feeling (to end with).” Leaving behind high-perform-

ance sport and the demands of being a Raven will be a big change for Smendziuk, but he’s perhaps better prepared than many since he’s not a stereotypical basketball player with a single interest. Smendziuk was the lone player whose major was mentioned by the announcer at the CIS Final 8 – “now re-entering the game, the fifth-year aerospace engineering student, Kyle Smendziuk” – although his next pursuit may well lie in the DJ services business he started last summer, Extreme Entertainment. “I’m always keeping busy and that’s the way I like to be,” Smendziuk smiles. “Now that I’ve had some free time after the season I definitely notice. There are a lot of things I was maybe missing out on off the court and out of the class so now I have time to catch up.” But he certainly wouldn’t trade

Kyle Smendziuk capped his CIS basketball career with a fourth title in five years for the Carleton Ravens.

photo: dan plouffe

any of basketball memories, especially the final performance that cemented his Ravens as the best CIS team of all-time with their ninth championship in 11 years. “That’s always the goal at the beginning of the year, to win a championship,” notes Smendziuk, who doesn’t foresee the Ravens’ reign falling any time soon. “In a sense anything less and some people would be disappointed. As a team we’re pretty happy.”

Johnny Berhanemeskel and the GeeGees men’s basketball team would like to spoil the Ravens party at the March 8-10 CIS Final 8 at Scotiabank Place.

OSU Force Academy Zone

5 Force line up to follow ‘inspirational’ past OSU Danone players Five Ottawa South United Force Academy/ Centre of Excellence players have reached the final selection phase for the Eastern Canadian Danone Nations Cup team. Isabella Hanisch, Veronika Shaw, Olivia Cooke, Matteo De Briene and Bryan Sun will try to follow in the footsteps of Mollie Eriksson and David Chung – OSU players who competed for Canada in last year’s Danone tournament in Poland. “They were a big inspiration,” highlights OSU club head coach Paul Harris. “That success made everybody excited and wanted to go and do that this year.” The five OSU athletes already find themselves in exclusive company. They were chosen from over 8,000 players who tried out at sites across the country to go to Toronto for the final selection camp in April. Less than 160 candidates remain for spaces on the Canadian East and West teams, who will then play off to determine which side will compete for Canada in London, England later this year at the world’s largest international youth soccer tournament for 11- and 12-year-olds. The first tryouts were a bit of a nerve-racking experience, signals Cooke, who quickly realized the importance of her session in Montreal when she was told only 25 would move on to Toronto. “That’s when it really hit that I’d have to do my very best,” recalls the Force Black 2001 defender. “Four hundred kids, it’s a lot. But I felt confident. I’d been wanting to do this for a long time.” The other four Force athletes attended tryouts in Ottawa and received a boost from Eriksson and Chung, who provided tips to

OSU’s next group of Danone hopefuls. “I got to talk to David, and he said, ‘You’ve got to stand up at tryouts and be a leader and show that you want it,’” recounts De Briene, a 2002 Force Black wing striker. The OSU standouts were proud to see so many from their club advance, and they also take comfort knowing that they won’t be alone come the high-stakes final selections. “It’s good because you know someone, so you’re not all that nervous,” notes Hanisch, a 2002 centre-midfielder. The Force Academy members also take confidence from the additional winter training they’ve put in at OSU’s new Centre of Excellence, where top players from multiple age groups receive instruction under Harris’s guidance. “The COE brings it to the next level,” explains Sun, a 2001 Force Black attacker. “They show us the finer details, and make us turn the details into habits.” While they’re trying not to get too far ahead of themselves, the players admit they can’t stop dreaming about the possibility of attending the 40-country competition at the site of the 2012 Olympics. “We could be playing against China and teams from Africa. It’s really awesome,” says Force 2001 goalkeeper Shaw. “Ever since I heard I made it, I’ve been working my butt off at every practice and going 100%.” The club is very pleased to see its players earn such distinctions, Harris notes. “To have another five go on to the next stage is brilliant,” adds the UK-born UEFA ‘A’-licensed coach from the Everton FC system. “It’s great kudos for the club and shows what we’re doing for youth development consistently. It’s not just a one-off. If we can do it over a sustained period of time, it shows the things we’re putting in place are starting to work.”

photo: steve kingsman

1st-time teammates, brothers share CIS title By Josh Bell

Despite their competitive nature, Jérémie and Bruno Lortie are brothers who call each other best friends. And they can also now call one another national champions. The Université Laval Rouge et Or players wrote a storybook tale in the first – and potentially last – season they ever played volleyball together on the same team. They won the championship on their home court

in Quebec City. It was Laval’s first title since 1994, and it ended a remarkable 17-year streak of victories by schools from the Canada-West conference. And both Lorties played a front-and-centre role in the gold medal match victory over McMaster – Bruno, in his rookie season, played all four sets of the final, while Jérémie was named tournament MVP. “Being a national champion is the best feeling ever,” says Jérémie, a fourth-year

middle. “It was really fun to have my best friend with me. I’ve watched him grow through his volleyball years and now being teammates, it’s just a pleasure to play with him.” This season was a long time in the making for the former Béatrice-Desloges Bulldogs. “I’ve wanted to play with my brother since I started playing volleyball,” highlights Bruno, a leftside hitter. “I couldn’t in high school because he was

Jérémie (left) and Bruno Lortie won a CIS volleyball title for the Laval Rouge et Or.

a senior and I was a junior, so I’ve had to wait for four years. Even though I was approached by different universities, I wanted to come to Laval and enjoy playing with my brother. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better.” The brothers have shared remarkably similar career paths until now. Both starred for the Maverick Volleyball Club growing up. LORTIES cont. on p.8

photo: yan doublet


Summer Sports Camps Age 4 to 15


• Dunrobin • Richmond • Kanata • Carp • Munster


Ottawa track pair named top CIS rookies Emma Galbraith

Yves Sikubwabo

file photos


MULTISPORT SOCCER • Teams • Individuals • Goalkeepers


By Anne Duggan A year ago, they were OFSAA track champions, and now Ottawa middle-distance runners Emma Galbraith and Yves Sikubwabo share another remarkable commonality from their first university seasons – both were named CIS trackand-field rookies of the year. When Galbraith and Sikubwabo finished their high school careers with golden performances on a Brockville track at OFSAA, it seemed they were destined to channel their success into generous U.S. athletic scholarships. Though this has been a popular path for many Canadian athletes, it was not the one either took – an unusual tactic that has produced great results. “Forty percent of the decision was my choice,” explains Sikubwabo, who clocked a 2:23.50 time in a February 1,000-metre race in Ohio for his University of Guelph Gryphons. “Sixty percent of the decision was my mom’s. Actually, as a teenager, it is hard to decide and so there is only one person who knows what is best for you. I am here in Guelph because of my mom, Nicole.” Nicole Le Saux and her

husband sponsored Sikubwabo several years ago after learning of his story as a refugee and orphan from Rwanda. He’s glad to have listened to her. “It’s the best decision I ever made,” says the Glebe Collegiate Institute grad who recently switched from a general arts program into mechanical engineering. “I am going to stay for the next five years.” That’s welcome news for his Guelph Gryphons coach. “You can’t get at the essence of Yves in a few words. To say he is hyper-talented as an athlete, smart as a whip, and loyal to his team only scratches the surface,” Dave Scott-Thomas said in a press release announcing Sikubwabo’s rookieof-the-year award. “He is a joy to be around and energizes our team with his pure love of running. We are seeing the emergence of one of the great talents of CIS track and field and an ever better story of what community, school and sport can do together.” Galbraith, meanwhile, is also pleased with her decision to stay in town with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees after seriously looking at schools as far-flung as Wisconsin, Oregon, Kentucky and West Virginia.

“I thought I was ready to leave and then, in April, it hit me, what the coaches were trying to tell me,” recounts Galbraith, who’d been warned about the danger of injuries by her Ottawa Lions club coaches, including Vince Fay. “I am so happy now. I got such great support. I recommend staying home to any athlete.” After skipping the crosscountry season at her coaches’ urging, Galbraith set a Canadian junior 1,000 m record with her time of 2:46.89 at a February track race in New York City. The human kinetics student capped her astonishing rookie season with a CIS 1,000 m victory by almost a full second, and then doubled up in the 1,500 m, earning the nod in a photo finish by 0.01 seconds over a Guelph runner. Sikubwabo left his own mark at his first CIS championships, in Edmonton, winning 1,500 m silver and 4x800 m relay gold to continue the dominance the pair of fast friends began on local tracks. London 2012 Olympian Segun Makinde and Devin Biocchi won four and three CIS medals respectively for the Gee-Gees, who earned men’s 4x200 m and 4x400 m relay titles.

LORTIES: First season together may be the last continued from p.8

And each won the provincial Ken Davies Award (for determination, leadership, athletic ability, sportsmanship and fair play), three years apart. Bruno laughs at the suggestion he’ll have to again follow in his older brother’s footsteps and win CIS MVP in the future. “I’m not guaranteeing anything,” he smiles. “It would be amazing though.” The brothers were roommates at Laval, although their time together may be held to a single season, depending on whether Jérémie returns for his fifth year of eligibility.

“Either I continue at Laval, I could go to Gatineau and train with the national team or I go play professional in Europe or Asia,” explains Jérémie, who wore the same #15 jersey for the Rouge et Or as his former Mavs coach, Thierry Lavigne. “My ultimate goal is to play pro in Europe.” The Lorties didn’t have to look far to see some familiar faces at the CIS championships. Mavs alumni populated every semi-finalist team – Jori Mantha for McMaster, Andre Begin and Phil James for Western, and Frank Jones for Brandon – while Patrick Goulet watched on as a Rouge et Or red-shirt rookie.




With a little help from their friends at Louis-Riel, the 2013 edition of the long-running Woodroffe Cup high school soccer tournament stayed alive this year, taking place March 21-22 at the Louis-Riel Dome. The national capital league-champion St. Pius X-Men, who are preparing for their springtime OFSAA tournament, won the boys’ division, while the LouisRiel Rebelles took the girls’ title on their wintertime home field.


The annual Alive to Strive race to support active lifestyles amongst kidney disease patients is set for April 28 at Terry Fox Athletic Facility. Organized by high jumper Marie-Eve Chainey, who receives dialysis treatments, the event raised $14,500 last year and attracted 472 runners. Amongst this year’s participants are Mayor Jim Watson and Rideau-Vanier City Councillor Mathieu Fleury. See for more information.






Friday, May 24

Ottawa Fury vs. Real Boston Rams


Friday, May 31

Ottawa Fury vs. CFC Azul


Saturday, June 1

Ottawa Fury vs. Western Mass Pioneers

W-League Wednesday, June 12

Barrhaven’s Jody Schloss won all three of her Grade 1a classes to help Canada to a team championship at a MArch 14-17 paraequestrian event in Florida. The London 2012 Paralympian rode her horse named Inspector Rebus to a victory over the host Americans, who scored a combined 373.422% compared to Canada’s 399.598%.


Matt Vierula of the Bytown Storm placed 11th, while Carp native Joanna Brown was fourth in a March 16 Pan American Cup triathlon race in Sarasota, FL. It was the season-opening event for both athletes.


Coming off an 11th-place finish at the London 2012 Olympics, Ottawa’s Melanie McCann began her new modern pentathlon season on the right foot by placing 22nd at a Feb. 26 World Cup in California, and then following it up with a 16thplace showing at the March 26 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “World Cup #2 in Rio was a great event for me,” McCann said in a press release. “Finishing second to the Olympic Champion in my qualifying pool earlier in the week was a huge confidence boost. In the Finals, it was critical to stay focused all day as I battled to find consistency, with a good showing in the physical events like the swim and run and a challenge in the technical events like my fence, ride and shoot. I’m definitely pleased with a 16th place finish with such a competitive field. But lots to work on as well - to get faster, stronger and more focused in the more technical events.”


& texts: dan plouffe

photo provided

Team Homan returned with bronze medals from their first women’s curling world championships appearance March 16-24 in Latvia. The Ottawa Curling Club rink featuring (from left) skip Rachel Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Alison Kreviazuk and lead Lisa Weagle finished with an overall record of 10-4. Team Homan fell in a lastrock semi-final match against champion Scotland and then beat USA 8-6 for bronze.

Ottawa Fury vs. Laval Comets


Saturday, June 15

Ottawa Fury vs. London Gryphons


Wednesday, June 19

Ottawa Fury vs. Vermont Voltage


Saturday, June 22

Ottawa Fury vs. K-W United FC


Wednesday, June 26

Ottawa Fury vs. Vermont Voltage


Sunday, July 7

Ottawa Fury vs. Quebec City Amiral


Wednesday, July 10

Ottawa Fury vs. Laval Comets


Friday, July 12

Ottawa Fury vs. Seacoast United Phantoms


Saturday, July 13

Ottawa Fury vs. Toronto Lady Lynx


Friday, July 19

Ottawa Fury vs. GPS Portland Phoenix

GYMNASTICS: Zakutney owns Tyro class continued from p.6

Zakutney has started using a bit of a different measuring stick for himself. The Grade 9 Franco-Cité high school student won the Tyro national title last year even though it was his first year in the age category. Now that he’s older, it’s as much about the quest for personal perfection as it is about gold medals. “I just need to loosen up more in competitions,” notes the reigning Elite Canada champ who also competed internationally in Germany in March. “I still get too stressed out. Especially with all the experience I already have, it doesn’t really make much sense.” Earning the top performances for their respective clubs were Meghan

Heer from Olympia (the L6, A14 vault silver medalist), Eric Gauthier from Tumblers (the national Sam youth all-around Zakutney silver medalist), Cassandra Belanger of Les Sittelles (the L7 A16+ vault silver medalist who finished .033 points away from all-around bronze), and Caleigh Choi from GCGC (who earned a top-8 ribbon in L7, A14-15 floor). Many local athletes qualified for the May 21-25 Eastern Canadian championships in Newfoundland, while others will compete in the Canadian championships, coming to Ottawa May 21-26.



902 Pinecrest Rd. Ottawa, Ont. K2B 6B3


Editor: Dan Plouffe 613-261-5838

The Ottawa Sportspage is printed the first Tuesday of every month by Ottawa Sports Media, the locally-owned and operated publisher of the Ottawa Sportspage &


continued from Front Cover “It was really good atmosphere,” remarks the team’s #3 goalie who competed alongside seven Team USA players for the Blades. “It was kind of funny when we were booing the American players. I haven’t played with the team in front of a crowd like this in Canada so I thought it was really cool.” The U.S. led the game 2-0 through two-and-a-half periods, but Canada turned in a furious finish the final nine minutes, tying the game and eventually winning 3-2 in a shootout. Canada easily cruised to victory in its next preliminary matches, dominating Switzerland and Finland 13-0 and 8-0, followed by a comfortable 8-1 trouncing of Russia in the semi-final. The Friday night game against Finland attracted a world record crowd for a women’s hockey game, with an attendance of 18,013. This was largely due to the fact that the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association provincial championships were taking place across Ottawa from April 4-7. “It’s really cool being able to be a positive role model for the little girls here,” Lacasse highlights, calling the crowd for the Finland game “unreal.” “It was just great,” she adds.

Team of the Month: Gloucester-Cumberland Stars Atom ‘A’ Team members: #1 Maria Van Scherrenburg, #3 Chantal Hains, #4 Cynthia Maisonneuve, #6 Marika Gagnon, #9 Madison Lacombe, #11 Kyla McDougall, #12 Rebecca Henneberry, #17 Leah Young, #18 Meghan Hardy, #20 Sarah Thompson, #22 Chailynn Compton, #24 Shauna Quinn, #25 Ainslee Picard, #30 Gabriella Goodall, #41 Stephanie Chennette, #99 Isabelle Barker, Coach Ryan Young, Assistant Dave Thompson, Assistant Trevor Quinn and Trainer/AsSport: Artistic Gymnastics sistant Kelly Picard.

Athlete of the Month: Samuel Zakutney

About: Playing on their home ice, the Gloucester-Cumberland Stars Atom ‘A’ girls’ hockey team won their provincial championship on April 7. The Stars went 2-0-1 in pool play, beat Chatham 4-3 in overtime in the quarter-finals, knocked off Sudbury 2-1 in an overtime semi-final, and then scored with under five minutes to play to earn a 2-1 win in their final against Aurora. To nominate Stars of the Month, go to and follow the link on the right-hand bar under the Stars of the Month feature. Courtesy of the Ottawa Sportspage and the YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region, the selected Athlete of the Month will receive a one-week Family Pass to the Y, while each member of the Team of the Month will receive one-visit passes.

“Even when they played the anthem, hearing everyone singing along gave me goosebumps.”

SILVER ADDS FUEL FOR SOCHI FIRE Although the final game didn’t turn out in the Canadians’ favour, the tournament nonetheless provided a spark for many young girls’ hockey players’ dreams. Lacasse has some bold future aspirations of her own as she now looks ahead to next year and the 2014

Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The #3 goalie tag isn’t one she loves. “I’m really excited, I don’t want to just go to the Olympics though,” Lacasse signals. “I want to be the starting goalie, I want to play in the gold medal game and I want it to be in my control and do what I can to be there.” Reality kicked back in for Lacasse immediately after the tournament as she went straight back to Boston to finish up her winter semester classes.

Club: National Capital Boys Competitive Gymnastics School: ESC Franco-Cité Grade: 9 About: Samuel Zakutney won gold medals on vault, high bar, parallel bars and floor, and bronze on pommel horse and rings, to earn the Tyro high-performance all-around title at the Ontario gymnastics championships. Zakutney is the current provincial, national and Elite Canada Tyro champ.

But as painful as it was, Lacasse plans to keep the memory of the championship game loss present in her mind. “It can only go up from this level and I think this will give us extra motivation,” she explains. “When you’re doing your workout and you can’t do that extra rep, you think back to this feeling and you do the extra rep, you do the extra workout. “We kind of got pushed down the mountain a little bit, but we’ll climb back up.”

‘Boots’ Holst continues rise since break from MMA martial arts, showing that he may be the region’s best fighting prospect at the Wreck MMA 2.0 Mark ‘Boots’ Holst was in fine form for card March 28 at the Hilton Lac Leamy hotel. his fourth match back after a break from mixed The 28-year-old veteran of two UFC fights caught California Mark ‘Boots’ Holst fighter Richie Whitson in an armbar to win by submission before the second round was over, displaying his traits as a well-rounded competitor with a measured style and standout muay-thai. “I’ve been fighting file photo since I was 15 years

By Dave Darling

old,” Holst notes. “It’s my life and I have no plans to give it up anytime soon.” Holst did take a year-long break from fighting shortly after his UFC stint where he lost both matches. “I’ve definitely improved since then,” highlights the 170 lb. athlete. “I feel good.” Holst says avoiding serious injury has been a nice key to his recent success, and feels that he still has plenty of gas in the tank, potentially for another run in the UFC. “Hey, if they call, I’ll be ready, and if they don’t, they don’t,” Holst explains candidly. “At the end of the day I just want to keep fighting. I love what I’m doing.” It was a highly disappointing night for

Geneviève Lacasse

photo: steve kingsman

OAMA’s Randy Turner in the Wreck 2.0 main event. Less than a minute into his match against Alberta fighter Michael Banin, Turner got stuck in a choke hold and was forced to tap out. Ten fights in total were featured on the card, with mostly local fighters. The Wreck 2.0 event marked the rebirth of the Wreck MMA organization following a short hiatus. But it’s now here to stay, says promoter Nick Castiglia, highlighting the support from the Casino and Giovanni’s Restaurant in supporting the series. “Things have been up and down over the years,” Castiglia acknowledges. “But we finally have a really dedicated marketing team behind us and the difference is amazing.”



Blondin ‘confident’ Olympic debut will come in 2014 By Dan Plouffe

Ivanie Blondin


: stephen maunder

Spotlight shines on local synchro By Dan Plouffe

March’s Ontario east regionals at the Nepean Sportsplex provided the kick-off for what will be a very busy 2013 synchronized swimming competition season locally. Ottawa will welcome some of the province and country’s best athletes in two more major events later this spring. “It’s nice to have it near home instead of going somewhere to a new pool,” notes Gloucester Synchro Club swimmer Deanna Masur. Masur’s age 13-15 team won gold in their east regionals division ahead of a pair of Nepean teams. “I was really happy. My whole team was. We were cheering and jumping around,” recounts the Grade 9 St. Peter Catholic High School student who trains 14 hours a week with her teammates. “We’re like one huge family. We spend a lot of time together, so it’s good that we get along really well.” It was a standout competition for the event’s host club, as Gloucester earned gold in the age 16-20 team competition (followed by Nepean and Ottawa), topped the 10 & under team event and took silver behind Durham in age 11-12. “It’s really sweet,” smiles Genna McBain, Gloucester cohead coach along with Chandra Costello. “The girls worked really hard, and it’s awesome to see it applied come competition. That’s the hard part. You get the nerves and the adrenaline

Gloucester synchro

It was a fantastic finish to a career-best campaign for speed skater Ivanie Blondin. The 23-year-old from Ottawa capped her 2012-13 season by placing eighth in the 5,000 metres at the world single-distance speed skating championships in Sochi, Russia. “I definitely wasn’t expecting that,” Blondin says. “The lap times were really consistent and I posted a really good time. It was a great feeling.” The first world championship medal of her career was elusive at the March 21-24 event, however. Blondin was on pace for an easy podium position in the team pursuit event, leading Christine Nesbitt and Brittany Schussler towards the finish line, but Nesbitt fell on the final turn. “Those things will happen,” notes the former Gloucester Concorde, calling the crash a “team responsibility” since they knew Nesbitt was tired from earlier races. “It happened at world cham-

pionships, but we’re thankful it wasn’t at the Olympics.” Except for increased security at the Sochi test event, Blondin didn’t get much of an Olympic vibe from the 2014 host city – it felt more like a construction zone, she highlights. It was nevertheless “pretty cool” to be there a year outside of the Olympics, which would be her first. “Not that I’m expecting it, but I’m more confident in making that team,” explains Blondin, who also earned Canada’s best world championships result in the 3,000 m, in 15th. “With my performances, not just nationally but internationally, I think have proven that I deserve to be on that Olympic team in the longer distances and also the team pursuit.” The former Garneau high school student won four World Cup team pursuit medals (a gold, two silver and a bronze) this season. Blondin also ranked third overall in the mass start this season, winning a pair of silvers. She is particularly well-suited for

the two-season-old mass start discipline – a long-distance race featuring many skaters who accumulate points based on their positioning after certain laps and at the finish. “I definitely feel like I’ve got an advantage,” signals the former national short track training centre athlete who raced at both short and long track world junior championships. “It’s so much fun. It’s like short track on long track. I’m more in my element.”

ROOM TO RISE REMAINS “Long track is a slower progress,” underlines Blondin, who expects she’ll continue to improve by training daily with her top-flight teammates. “The years go on and you build your capacity in training, and every year you take on a bigger load and get that little bit stronger.” The 2012-13 season represented Blondin’s biggest load yet. She was on the road 160 days of the year for competitions and training camps, including a Christmas Day flight home to Ottawa – a day

after she got engaged to longtime boyfriend Eric Menard. “It’s been quite the crazy year, but it’s been a great year,” smiles Blondin, who plans to get married the summer after the Olympics. After competing in Sochi, Blondin went straight back to her parents’ new home in Rockland for a month of rest. “It’s not an easy road,” Blondin shares. “People see you at the top, and I feel like they only ever see you at the top. When you’re at the bottom, they don’t really pay attention to you, so they don’t really see the road that you take to get to that place. “You go through ups and downs. Last year was a complete write-off. I was sick all year with mono and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. But it’s those things that make you stronger. You push through them, you come out of it, and you become a stronger person and a stronger athlete. “To be able to post results like I did this year, it’s such a great feeling looking back.”

Injury derails local slopestyle snowboarder By Josh Bell

photo: dan plouffe

and you have to keep that focus. They did a fabulous job.” Local synchro talent will again take centre stage at the Nepean Sportsplex from May 22-26 for Synchro Ontario’s age group provincials, hosted by the Nepean Synchro Club. And the next weekend, Gloucester will take the organizational lead for the May 29-June 2 Canadian espoir championships/age 13-15 national team trials, again at the Sportsplex. While Gloucester won’t enter any teams in that event, a few alumni who have moved elsewhere to chase the higher levels of the sport should be in the field. “It’s an amazing opportunity,” highlights McBain, thanking parent volunteers for the crucial role they play. “It’s a great way to end the season for the girls to be able to come and see the best in our country.”

Twice Natalie Allport was set to wear Canada’s colours at major international snowboarding events this year, and twice an injury denied her at the very last moment. First, the 19-year-old Kanata athlete was set to make her World Cup debut in January in Colorado. But during a practice run that featured poor conditions and poor visibility with high winds and snow, Allport landing short on a jump and wound up with a bruised heel. She managed to get back on snow before her FIS junior world championships on March 10 and made the trip over to Turkey. Canada’s top finisher in the women’s slopestyle event at last year’s junior worlds, Allport was out to improve on her ninth-place performance this time out as one of the oldest athletes.

But it wound up being a repeat story for the A.Y. Jackson Secondary School grad, as she overshot a jump on a practice day and re-injured her heel. “It sucks because it’s one of those injuries where as much as you work in the offseason to prevent it, it’s not something you can avoid – a bruise to the bone,” highlights Allport, who also missed the Canadian championships later in March and has shut it down for the season. “I was upset after I hurt myself again but after that I just concentrated on supporting my teammates and making a good trip out of it.” Canadians ended up sweeping both the men’s and women’s slopestyle competitions, with Tyler Nicholson and Laurie Blouin capturing gold. “I’m really close friends with everyone on the team and we were all a really good group,” Allport adds. “It was fun

photo provided

Natalie Allport

photo provided

to support them, motivate them, and ride down beside them during their run. It was good to see my teammates do well.” Allport, who maintains a regular blog at , is now focused on recovering properly with physiotherapy, icing and keeping weight off her foot. She’d like to ride in New Zealand come August prior to starting fall courses at Algonquin College, and then getting back in the game for next season. “My idea is thinking long-term for the 2018 Olympics,” Allport signals. “Right now, it’s a lot of training rather than as many competitions as I can. It’s really expensive to try to compete in all the competitions. Ultimately, getting better as a rider is what is going to get me to 2018.”



‘Pure, genuine joy’ evident in 4 local OWHA-champion teams By Dan Plouffe

The spirit of Poppa Jim, the copycat teddy bear coach, a rugged shepherd plaster head called The Dude, and High School Musical tunes helped power Nepean, Gloucester and Ottawa clubs to provincial titles, as local teams used home ice to their full advantage during an unforgettable Ontario Women’s Hockey Association championships from April 4-7. Compared to two gold, a silver and two bronze last season, teams from the nation’s capital more than doubled their medal haul this year with four gold, a silver and six bronze. There were countless heart-warming, genuine moments, and loads of laughs and smiles as 388 of the province’s best girls’ hockey teams descended on Ottawa and showed off the tremendous spirit that thrives in the game. “I think girls’ hockey has it right,” says Les Mery, coach of the Peewee ‘C’-champion Nepean Wildcats, whose players visited their opponents’ dressing room after their gold medal final to congratulate them on their silver medals and thank them for the great game. “They take the emphasis off all the big awards and really preach connecting as people,” Mery adds. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

WIN DEDICATED TO POPPA JIM Mery’s team carried a strong connection with someone they lost back in February – Jim Sullivan, the grandfather of player Alexa Anderson, known as “Poppa Jim.” “He was a grandparent to every single one of us,” Anderson shares. “He is amazing. He knew every single person here and when he passed away it broke everyone’s heart.” The Wildcats dedicated their provincials tournament to his memory, and wound up with a gold medal thanks to a come-from-behind 3-2 tri-

A goal with under five minutes to play sent the Gloucester-Cumberland Stars to the OWHA Atom ‘A’ title.

umph over Ennismore in the final at Walter Baker Arena. “When they scored the second, everyone was like ‘please Poppa Jim, help us!’” recounts Anderson, whose teammate Calla Brown scored the second of two late third-period goals to lift Nepean to victory. “It just feels the best.”

TEDDY BEAR STARS FOR G-C The Gloucester-Cumberland Stars were also involved in a nail-biting championship match, but used a little levity to their advantage en route to an Atom ‘A’ division crown. Concerned that the girls were feeling too stressed before their semi-final contest, assistant Trevor Quinn pulled out a teddy bear clad in Stars gear during head coach Ryan Young’s pre-game speech, and began mimicking his movements behind his back – including mocking the coach’s plentiful hand-talking. “It brought smiles, they laughed, and it took the pressure of the situation off,” recalls Young, whose players brought the teddy on the ice for post-game celebrations. “It’s always been about fun all year.” Playing on their home rink at Ray Friel, the Stars won overtime games

in the quarter- and semi-finals to reach the championship game against Aurora, which they won 2-1 thanks to a goal with under five minutes to play. “I’m so proud of the girls,” adds Young, whose team mixed in with the silver medalists for a photo after their tight game. “They worked hard all year and this is just the culmination of pure effort and heart on their part.”

‘THE DUDE’ ACTS AS OMEN The Ottawa Ice also carried a lucky charm with them in their quest for Atom ‘B’ gold, although theirs was a whole bunch more unusual than a teddy bear. Coach Mike Clancy received a rather strange gift at the team’s Christmas party – a plaster head carved with the face of a very rugged-looking shepherd. “The kids immediately gravitated to this silly plaster head, and all year they called him, ‘The Dude,’” Clancy explains. “We went on an incredible winning streak after we started to bring him out. Every game, the head had to hang in their dressing room as a mascot.” Turns out Clancy’s team was a bit of a reflection of the rugged Dude. The Ice persevered through a nineThe Nepean Wildcats were OWHA Peewee ‘C’ champions.

photo: dan plouffe

period semi-final game against Woolwich to win 1-0 on Sunday morning, and then returned to the ice less than two hours later for the final. The gold medal match went to overtime again before Abbey McMillan ended it in the second extra session. “The whole place erupted,” Clancy describes. “I recall Abbey’s face in particular. She went screaming by the bench with a thousand-watt smile on her face as she raced by to hug her teammates. It was really cute. When you see kids have success in whatever they do, it’s really so much fun to watch them. It’s just pure, genuine joy.” Clancy emphasizes that every player was a big contributor to the team’s success all year, and especially during the draining provincials tournament. And The Dude may have had a role too. “He’d been through a lot,” Clancy adds. “About three weeks ago I was putting the puck bag away in my garage. I tried to catch it in the air and I missed. He hit the garage floor and a big block of plaster came off, but he didn’t shatter. “I said, ‘That was a good omen that he could survive.’”

prize for best pre-game karaoke singers. Instead of a traditional pump-up song like We Will Rock You, the Ice preferred to belt out tunes from High School Musical – Breaking Free was their favourite. “We had some weird traditions,” smiles forward Raquel Franco, who celebrated a provincial championship at Ray Friel, the rink she grew up playing on. “We all stick together, and we love each other. We’re like a family, I think. I’m sad that it’s over.” There was no better way than to end with a championship though, and for Franco, there’s also the memory of a highlight-reel goal that gave Ottawa a comfortable 5-1 advantage in the second period en route to a 7-2 victory over Waterloo. “This was probably my best game ever, I’ve got to say,” says the career house leaguer who stepped into competitive hockey for the first time this season. “I’ve never scored two goals in a game before. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. I’ve never won tournaments or anything. It was so nice having my parents and all my loved ones here to see us win.” Other local teams collecting medals included: Nepean Atom ‘AA’ (bronze), Gloucester Atom ‘C’ (bronze), Nepean Peewee ‘BB’ (bronze), Nepean Peewee ‘B’ (bronze), Kanata Peewee ‘C’ (bronze), Ottawa Midget ‘A’ (bronze) and Gloucester Midget ‘C’ (silver). —with files from Josh Bell Find out what happened to Nepean Midget ‘AA’ coach Jody Campeau on

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL CHAMPS The Ottawa Ice were not only champions of the Bantam ‘C’ division, they’d also take home the top

photo: dan plouffe

The Ottawa Ice celebrated a Bantam ‘C’ provincial championship with a 7-2 gold medal game victory over Aurora.

photo provided

photo: dan plouffe