Wednesday July 23, 2014

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Locals part of national champion

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The Weyburn Southern Range Gold Wings team that won gold at the Esso Cup national championship had several local players, including Tamara Irwin and Madison Colbow of Estevan. (Photo submitted)

The Weyburn Southern Range Gold Wings team that won the national Esso Cup Female Midget AAA championship had two Estevan players.

Madison Colbow, a defenceman in her second year with the team, and Tamara Irwin, a first-year goaltender, were part of the squad that won the national championship with a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Thunder on April 26 in Stony Creek, Ontario.

Weyburn led 1-0 after the first period, and took a 2-0 lead early in the second. Edmonton pulled to within a goal before the midway point of the frame, but from there, Weyburn shut down the Thunder.

Colbow said the final few minutes of the game were very nerve-wracking.

"The clock was ticking down, and I thought 'We are so close. We are just seconds away from frickin' being national champions,'" Colbow told Lifestyles. "And I was just so nervous because anything could happen, and anything was possible in that game."

But the Gold Wings held on to win, and their work ethic throughout the year was rewarded.

"We had a lot of rookies this year, and we had some amazing coaches," said Colbow. "They taught us a lot, everything we need to know."

Weyburn finished second in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League this season with an 18-6-0-3 record. They swept Melville in a best-of-five in the opening round of the playoffs, then needed four games to dispatch of Prince Albert and Regina in the semi-final and final, respectively.

"Everyone was expecting Regina to win, and nobody really had any faith in us," said Colbow. "But we came out on top … and it was unbelievable."

Colbow was the Gold Wings' top scorer in league playoffs with six goals and 11 points in 11 games.

The Gold Wings then swept the Manitoba champions, the Pembina Valley Hawks, in three straight games to advance to nationals.

"We were focused on that (series), and once we had that series, we were set to go for nationals," said Colbow.

At the Esso Cup, Weyburn went 4-1 in the round-robin to take top spot, then knocked off a team from Sudbury, Ontario, in the semi-final.

Nationals were a great experience, Colbow said. The Gold Wings players were treated like royalty throughout the tournament, as they received a variety of mementos, enjoyed great food and accommodations, and heard a lot of well-wishes from spectators.

Colbow finished nationals with a goal and an assist in seven games.

Irwin was the Gold Wings' back-up this year. She appeared in nine games in the regular season, and won six of them, but didn't play in provincials or at nationals.

Other players on the team from the southeast corner of the province were forwards Cassidy Pirlot of Wauchope, Kassidy Sjostrand of Midale and Paige Smith of Carlyle.


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