Thursday, 21 April 2016

Stars return to Esso Cup final four

Mackenna Parker scored for the Stars.
    The Saskatoon Stars are returning to the semifinal round of the Esso Cup for a second straight year, but they did it in a more dramatic fashion this time around.
    Entering their final preliminary round game Thursday afternoon at Crescent Point Place in Weyburn, the Stars needed to earn at least a point in the standings in a clash against the Bedford, N.S., based Metro Boston Pizza to earn a semifinal berth. Metro Boston Pizza had to pull out a regulation victory to advance to the final four of the national female midget AAA hockey championship tournament.
    Metro Boston Pizza went up 1-0 in the first period on a goal from Rachel Dorey.
    The Stars rallied to pull out a 2-1 victory after Mackenna Parker potted the equalizer in the second period and Grace Shirley netted the winner in the third. Emma Johnson picked up the win in goal for the Stars making 11 saves.
    Josee Thibeau turned away 33 shots taking the loss in the Metro Boston Pizza net.
    Saskatoon won its first two games of the tournament but proceeded to lose two in a row. As a result, the Stars found themselves in a position, where they could potentially miss the playoff round.
    After pulling out a victory in their final preliminary round game, the Stars improved to 3-2 to finish third in preliminary round standings. They face the Brantford Ice Cats (3-1-1) in a semifinal match slated for 3:30 p.m., Saskatchewan time on Friday.
    The other semifinal features the De Winton, Alta., based Rocky Mountain Raiders (3-1-1) going up against the Express du Richelieu (3-2) at 7 p.m. Saskatchewan time.
    Metro Boston Pizza finished last in the six-team tournament with a 1-3-1 mark. The host Weyburn Gold Wings won their final two contests to finish fifth with a 2-3 mark.
    Last year when the Esso Cup was in Red Deer, the Stars didn’t need any final day dramatics to make the semifinal round posting a 4-1 record in the preliminary round. Saskatoon dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker to the host Red Deer Chiefs in the semifinal after a tiebreaking shootout. The Stars proceeded to win the bronze medal game downing the Portage la Prairie based Central Plains Capitals 5-1.
    With Thursday’s win over Metro Boston Pizza, the Stars improved their overall record to 45-11 to match their overall win total from the 2014-15 campaign, when they went 45-5.
This year’s Esso Cup in Weyburn closes on Saturday with the bronze and gold medal contests.
Willow Slobodzian controls the puck for the Stars.
    NOTES – Parker and Stars defender Willow Slobodzian were invited to a prospects camp for Canada’s under-18 along with 48 other players on Wednesday. The camp runs May 4-8 in Hamilton, Ont.
    Also attending the camp are forwards and former Stars players Sophie Shirley and Nara Elia, who both suited up for the Notre Dame Hounds club that plays in the Junior Women’s Hockey League. Shirley was a member of Canada’s under-18 this past season. Defender Brooke Hobson of the Prince Albert A & W Bears is also heading to the under-18 game.
    Hockey Canada will also hold a 47-player camp for the national women’s development team from May 4-8 in Hamilton, Ont. Saskatoon product Emily Clark, who a member of Canada’s senior national team, will take part in the development team camp. The standout forward and Stars grad plays for the University of Wisconsin Badgers in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

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