Saskatoon Stars Claim Silver Medal at Esso Cup
BRIDGEWATER, N.S. – The St. Albert Slash became the first team in Esso Cup history to repeat as back-to-back champions, defeating the Saskatoon Stars 2-1 to win gold at Canada’s National Female Midget Championship.
After suffering a 4-1 loss to the Stars in the preliminary round, the Slash rebounded in the championship game by opening the scoring with just under three minutes remaining in the first period. Late-period goals were the key to the team’s success, as St. Albert took a 2-0 lead with less than one minute remaining in the second period. The Stars cut the deficit in less than a minute into the third period; Grace Shirley forced a turnover at the St. Albert blue-line before finding Kianna Dietz for a tap-in to cut the lead in half. But that would be the only puck to find its way past Slash netminder Camryn Drever, who made 14 saves.
“They [St. Albert] did a great job. An absolutely great job,” said Greg Slobodzian, head coach of the Saskatoon Stars. “We haven’t been pressured like that in a long time. Our girls didn’t know how to handle it at the beginning, but I thought we answered really well in the third period. It could have went either way."
The Stars were at the Esso Cup for the third time in four years. The first time, in 2015, they surprised even themselves. The team was young and coming off a middle-of-the-pack performance the previous season in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League (SMAAAHL) with five first-year Bantam-age players skating regular minutes, the Stars won their league, swept through provincials and captured a bronze medal at nationals. They then won the West Regionals to return to Canada’s National Female Midget Championship the following year and advanced to the provincial championship series last season. This year the team won 14 straight to start the regular season and had not suffered a loss since early January. After round robin play at the Esso Cup, the Stars finished in top spot with a 5-0 record. They then beat Pionnieres de Lanaudiere 5-1 in the semi-final setting the stage for the Gold Medal match-up against St.Albert. Through six games the Stars outscored opponents 28-4.
The Stars return home with not only silver medals but three players recieved accolades for their performances at the 2018 Esso Cup - Ashley Messier was named Top Defenceman; Mackenna Parker was Top Scorer and was also named the Esso Cup MVP.
2018 Esso Cup Award Recipients
- Top Forward – McKenzie Hewett, St. Albert Slash
- Top Defenceman – Ashley Messier, Saskatoon Stars
- Top Goalie – Sarah Vanier, Pionnières de Lanaudière
- Top Scorer – Mackenna Parker, Saskatoon Stars
- Most Sporstmanlike – Paige Whaley, Brampton Canadettes
- Esso Cup MVP – Mackenna Parker, Saskatoon Stars