Summer hockey draws local players

It will be a hectic end to June for Patricia Armstrong and her two daughters.
Armstrong’s older daughter, Kristen Roehrig, finished off her exams last week before heading to Thunder Bay for nine days of training camp with the Thunder Bay Northern Hawks’ under-17 team.
The younger one, Lindsey Roehrig, will get dropped off for the under-12 camp when her mother goes to pick up Kristen and take her to Calgary later this month for the 2004 Stampede Challenge hockey tournament.
Armstrong then will go to Brandon from Calgary to watch Lindsey play in another summer hockey tournament.
The Roehrig sisters are just two of several local girls who made one of the three Northern Hawks’ summer teams.
“They do three or four tryouts, they put them through all sorts of different exercises. They play teams from all over the northern U.S. and the west,” noted Armstrong, who is the president of the Red Line Club (which supports the Muskie girls’ hockey team).
Two other Muskies from last season also will play on the under-17 team. Mackenzie Caul and goalie Kim Pacarenuk will compete in Calgary, along with Fort Frances native Sarah Barton, who played for the Thunder Bay Queens last season.
Meanwhile, Cassandra Cochrane, who was a rookie with the black-and-gold last year, will play for the Northern Hawks’ under-14 squad, as will Nina Bird, who played house league hockey here last season.
Each team is made up of just 15 skaters and two goalies.
Between 35 and 40 girls tried out for the Midget team (the under-17s), which will run three lines along with six defence.
“They’re guaranteed four games in the round-robin, and then move one, hopefully, to the quarter-finals, semis, and then the finals on Saturday,” said Doug Shaw, one of the coaches for the Midget team.
“In previous years, we’ve gone to Brandon,” he noted. “This team has won the Brandon tournament two of the past four years.”
They will be playing against all-star teams from Western Canada, comprised of the best players from various regions.
“These are teams that are put together to play the highest level of girls’ hockey that there is,” said Shaw. “It’s a very compressed experience. What I’m hoping they get out of it is a great hockey experience.
“It’s always interesting playing teams from the west because they play a tougher brand of hockey,” he added.
Tryouts for the team were held in mid-April in Thunder Bay.
“We thought it was quite a feather in the hat of our Muskies,” said Pat Pacarenuk, Kim’s dad and a member of the Red Line Club. “It’s also a feather in the hat of our coaching staff.”
Pacarenuk gives her Muskie coaches—Jim McMahon and Allan Barr—credit for her play between the pipes. She only started playing goal three years ago when she first made the team.
The Muskie girls’ hockey team improved steadily last season, ending their year in the first round of the NorWOSSA playoffs.
“Our Muskie girls, they didn’t do so well in high school play, though they were really improved,” noted Armstrong. “And our goalie [Pacarenuk], she knocked out a Queens’ goalie [for a roster spot on the Northern Hawks].”
The other goalie, Dryden native Tiffany Thompson, played for the Queens last season.
The coaches were quite impressed with the level of the regional girls’ play, Shaw said.
“The high school hockey must be pretty good out there in the region,” he remarked, adding enthusiasm and work ethic always seems to be a trait in the region.
The under-17 team had girls from Kenora, Dryden, and Fort Frances trying out.
The squad leaves for Calgary this week and plays its first game against the Saskatchewan Wheatland Stars on June 30. Many scouts are expected to attend the tournament, including those from Canadian universities and U.S. colleges.
“Even if I don’t get to play, it’s a good experience,” reasoned Pacarenuk, who arranged to write her last exam in Thunder Bay on Monday—something that was organized by the other team’s other coach, Ted Vescio, a high school guidance counsellor.
“It’s going to be great.”
Pacarenuk was one of five goalies vying for a roster spot. She decided to try out after seeing a notice about it while at a tournament in Thunder Bay.