The Leaside Lancers girls hockey team experienced something special with its roster.
Much like a blue moon — the rarity of two full moons happening in a month — the squad has been buoyed by two standout goalies throughout the 2013-14 campaign.
Rachelle Champion, who was in net for the Lancers’ crucial game against Malvern Black Knights on Feb. 5 at Ted Reeve Arena, and Megan Barnard have been sharing the goaltending duties for a team that was toe-dragging for a playoff spot.
Though Leaside lost 2-0 to fall to a 3-3 record, and would fall 3-2 to the same team on Feb. 26 to bow out of the playoffs on opening night, the future for the Lancers down the road is solid.
Champion saved 27 of 28 shots in the Feb. 5 game. The second goal came on an empty-netter.
The Lancers finished the regular season with a 4-4 record.
Champion, in Grade 10, and Barnard, a freshman, are going to be around for at least two more years, much to the delight of coaches Sara Jones and Dave Montgomery.
Montgomery told the Town Crier the two girls decided on sharing the goaltending duties by alternating every game. He said he asked them at the beginning of the season whether they wanted to alternate periods to get experience coming in and out of games, but they felt, “for their own karma,” they’d just get psyched up and play their own game.
“It’s worked out great because we’re playing everybody twice,” he said. “They’re all having a shot at the different teams.”
Barnard and Champion say their decision is based on having fun and connecting with the team. Both play outside of high school — Barnard with Leaside Wildcats and Champion with Scarborough Sharks.
Even though they play for different A-teams, their route to playing between the pipes is the same. Barnard was a defenceman for two seasons, after jumping over to hockey from figure skating when she was in Grade 5. Champion was a left winger. She moved to the net in Grade 7.
“My older brother introduced it to me,” said Champion, who grew up in a hockey family and whose father built a backyard rink every year.
Ask Barnard’s mom, Angela, why she went from blue frills to bluelines, and she’ll tell you there were flaws in the wardrobe.
“We put her in figure skating because I didn’t want her to be a hockey player, and then somehow — she didn’t like the skirts or something — so we put her in house league in Leaside.”
But Megan laughs.
“One time in figure skating we were playing hockey and I just stole the stick and then I would run around with it,” she said.
The early playoff win over the Lancers saw the Black Knights move on to play Lawrence Park Panthers on March 4.
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