Slash shutdown Raiders repeat bid
Hockey: St. Albert bests Rocky Mountain in Midget AAA provincial final
Monday, Mar 20, 2017 08:58 am
Faced with beating the top team in the province twice in two days proved too tall an order.
The top-seed St. Albert Slash shook off a shaky round-robin to shut the door on the Rocky Mountain Raiders repeat bid to take home the Midget AAA Female provincial title in a 2-0 nail-biter backstopped by a 36-save shutout from Camryn Drever Sunday at Scott Seaman Sports Rink.
“She’s probably the best goalie in the province and she stoned us. We fired 36 pucks at her,” said Raiders head coach Paul Pozzi. “They’re a good team, a deep team and their depth carries right into their back end.
“The girls worked hard, didn’t quit and battled right until the very end. I give them credit for that. We’re all about working hard and it was no different today.”
Kaitlyn Pelley gave the Slash the dream start to the final, scoring on the first shift of the game just 37 seconds from puck-drop.
Rocky Mountain responded by carrying the play for most of the opening period with nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
“We just responded as if it was a nothing-nothing game and kept going after that,” Pozzi said.
The Raiders came close to tying it on several occasions in the middle stanza, highlighted by a Laura Jardin shot off the near post on the powerplay.
St. Albert added some much needed insurance in the opening minute of the final frame as Madison Willan fired in a shorthanded marker to make it a 2-0 advantage.
Rocky Mountain threw everything at Drever yet couldn’t solve the shot stopper and a resilient Slash defence which blocked a half dozen scoring opportunities.
“I think we gave it everything we had,” said an emotional Raiders captain Kennedy Brown following the final. “They worked hard too, had some great shots on net that turned into goals for them.
“We left it all on the ice today. It’s just tough when bounces don’t go your way.”
Rewind back one day earlier and it didn’t look like the Slash would be involved in a final.
Rocky Mountain edged St. Albert 3-2, its first win all year over their league foes, in its round-robin finale to finish pool play with a 3-0 record while the Slash had a win, an overtime loss and regulation loss.
In somewhat of an upset, the Red Deer Chiefs fell 3-2 in overtime to the Calgary Fire to push the Slash back into the number-two seed as the second finalist with Rocky Mountain.
“They maybe thought they had an easy road coming in and we made it difficult for them. They had to earn it,” Pozzi said. “I think we were the two best teams and it was right that the two of us played off.”
Okotokian Breanne Trotter finished as top scorer in the tournament with five goals and tied with teammate Nicole Fry for first in points with 7 in four games.
Rocky Mountain, which has enjoyed its biggest successes in franchise history over the past two seasons with a provincial, regional, Esso Cup and Mac’s Midget banner to show for it, loses a number of key players to graduation.
“I’m just proud to be part of the Raider legacy in what’s happened in the past five years that I’ve been on the team,” added Brown, who’s committed to the University of Saskatchewan. “I’m proud I got to wear the jersey for that long and got to be a part of it.”
Those moving on from the program include Brown, goalie Kate Lloyd, alternate captain Hailey McCallum, blueliners Ava Thiessen, Catherine Longchamps and Ashley Sutherland.
“There is six warriors right there,” Pozzi said. “They’re such great kids, they work hard. They started off as little girls at 15-years-old and they graduate from midget hockey as young women.
“They’re kind of like my daughters because I’ve seen them as much as their own parents the last three years. They will always be special kids for me. Now they graduate and we move on.”