Sunday, 18 December 2016

Shirley, Rongve power Stars past Sharks

Grace Shirley (#14) drives hard to the net for the Saskatoon Stars.
    Julia Rongve always seems to be the perfect fit to play on a line that features a Shirley.
    Two years ago, Rongve was part of a dynamic 15-year-old sophomore forward line featuring Sophie Shirley and Nara Elia with the Saskatoon Stars female midget AAA team. Playing with Shirley and Elia, who were both recently named to Canada’s under-18 national team, Rongve piled up six goals and 17 assists in 28 regular season games in 2014-15.
    These days Rongve is a 17-year-old veteran with the Stars, and she has been playing in a line with Sophie Shirley’s younger sister, Grace. Last season, Grace Shirley exploded on to the scene with the Stars piling up 18 goals and 14 assists as a 14-year-old rookie, and she is having another standout campaign as a 15-year-old sophomore.
    On Sunday at the Agriplace Arena, Grace Shirley and Rongve combined for three goals and five assists to power the Stars to a 7-2 victory over the Battlefords Sharks.
The Stars celebrate a goal from Julia Rongve.
    For most of the first period, it seemed like Sharks were going to keep the Stars offence at bay as Battlefords netminder Chantel Weller turned away a number of solid scoring chances from the Saskatoon side.
    With 1:56 to play in the first, the Stars broke through for a 1-0 lead, when winger Joelle Fiala rifled home a power-play goal from the front of the Sharks net.
    Early in the second, Shirley and Rongve played a key part in helping the Stars score twice in a 35-second span to go ahead 3-0. They combined to set up 14-year-old rookie defender Chace Sperling for her fifth goal of the season. After that tally, Rongve proceeded to set up Shirley for her first goal of the night.
    Saskatoon’s edge expanded to 4-0, when offensive defender Willow Slobodzian scored a highlight reel goal on a solo end-to-end rush.
    Shirley and Rongve proceeded to combine for their most memorable goal of the night off an offensive zone faceoff. On an offensive draw with under seven minutes to play in the second, Shirley pushed towards with goal with the puck, fed a beauty pass across the face of the Sharks goal to Rongve, who tapped the puck into an open cage to give Saskatoon a 5-0 edge.
Joelle Fiala potted the Stars first goal on Sunday.
    Early in the third, the Stars found themselves in penalty trouble and 16-year-old forward Keara Amson scored twice for the Sharks on the power play to cut Saskatoon’s edge to 5-2 with 16:12 to play in the frame.
    With just over five minutes to play in the third and working on a power play of their own, Rongve set up Shirley for her second tally of the contest put Saskatoon in front 6-2. Anna Leschyshyn rounded out the Stars scoring with a single.
    Jordan Ivanco made 22 stops to earn the win in goal for the Stars. Weller stopped 47 shots to take the loss in net for the Sharks (3-11-1).
    Thanks to Sunday’s performance, Rongve now has eight goals and 12 assists in 17 games. Her goal total is a career high, and she will likely pass her career highs in assists and points, which were set playing alongside Sophie Shirley and Elia.
    Grace Shirley has 10 goals and 13 assists in 17 games this season, and she has a good chance to pass all her offensive totals from her rookie campaign.
Willow Slobodzian scored a short-handed goal on a coast-to-coast rush.
    The Stars head into the Christmas break sitting first overall in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League with a 14-2-1 record good for 43 points in the standings. They sit four points up on the Prince Albert Northern Bears (14-3) and the Melville Prairie Fire (14-4).
    The Bears and Prairie Fire trail the Stars due to the fact three of their wins have come in extra time, while all of Saskatoon’s victories have come in regulation. In the SFMAAAHL, you earn three points in the standings for a regulation victory and two points for an extra time win.
    Saskatoon’s Christmas break comes to an end on Dec. 27, when the Stars open play at the prestigious Mac’s Tournament in Calgary against the Prince George, B.C., based Northern Capitals.
    The Stars next regular season game is Jan. 7 in the new year, when they host the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats at 7:45 p.m. at the Agriplace Arena.

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