Sunday, 19 February 2017

Stars close regular season with record

Parker records highest goal total since Clark/Harris

Stars F Mackenna Parker set career highs with goals (24) and points (44).
    The Saskatoon Stars seem to just keep shooting for the stars, when it comes to collecting achievements.
    On Sunday at the Agriplace Arena, the Stars closed the regular season with a 4-1 victory over the Regina Rebels, improved to 25-2-1 and set a new team record for points in the regular season standings at 76. The Stars earned the 76 points by winning all their games in regulation and acquiring a point from an overtime loss. In the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League, three points are awarded in the standings for regulation wins.
    The previous team record for points in the regular season standings was 74 set in the 2014-15 campaign, when the Stars posted a 25-3 mark. The Stars earned 72 points by winning 24 games in regulation and two points for an extra time victory.
Grace Shirley had a goal for the Stars on Sunday.
    Greg Slobodzian, who is in his third season as Stars head coach, said he always tries to focus on helping his players become better people, increase their confidence while also concentrating on the process of getting better on the ice. The bench boss said his team doesn’t shoot for lofty records but added it is sweet when they do happen.
    “Those little things are nice rewards for sure,” said Slobodzian, whose Stars won their last 14 straight regular season games. “That is not why we do it, but any time you can get rewarded for the work these girls put in, it means something.
    “All those little extras it is like that is why we work so hard in practice, and that is why our dryland was the way it was. It is a nice feather in the cap type thing.”
    Besides the team record, Stars 16-year-old forward Mackenna Parker also hit some impressive milestones.
    She scored once on Sunday to finish with career highs in goals (24) and points (44). Her 24 goals are the highest for a Stars player in a season since Emily Clark, who is now a member of Canada’s senior national team, and Kennedy Harris, who is a checking centre with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, both scored 26 goals for the Stars in the 2011-12 campaign.
Stars F Mackenna Parker is stopped by Rebels G Katheryn Neigum.
    Parker’s point total is the highest for a Stars player since Clark recorded 60 points also in the 2011-12 season.
    “It is amazing, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates too,” said Parker. “It is not just me that puts the work in.
    “It is amazing to hear that my hard work is paying off.”
    Parker, who is completing her third full season with the Stars, was pleased to hear her squad also set a new team record for most points collected in the regular season standings.
    “The dressing room was pumped,” said Parker. “It is a great feeling just to know that our hard work has paid off.
    “Definitely being a third-year now, it is amazing to see how we have developed throughout the years and how much we are getting better. It is an amazing feeling, and everyone is so excited about it.”
Joelle Fiala breaks down the wing for the Stars.
    In the win over the Rebels, the Stars came out firing and a blowout could have been possible had it not been for the stellar goaltending of 17-year-old veteran Katheryn Neigum in the Regina net. Neigum turned away 41 of 44 shots fired her way.
    Grace Shirley gave the Stars a 1-0 lead in the first period, but Rebels forward Ally Kosteniuk replied with a single to tie things up at 1-1 before the first intermission rolled around.
    Parker picked up the only goal in the second to put the hosts up 2-1. Rookie forward Kaitlin Jockims increased the Stars edge to 3-1 with a tally that came just before the midway point of the third period.
    The Rebels had a goal disallowed with 1:20 to play in the third, and Joelle Fiala sealed the final outcome for the Stars with an empty-net tally with 20.6 seconds to play.
Defender Dana Wood looks for a shooting lane for the Stars.
    Rookie goalie Arden Kliewer made 15 stops to pick up the win in the Saskatoon net.
    The Rebels fell to 17-8-3 with the loss and finished fourth in the SFMAAAHL standings.
    When Slobodzian became the Stars head coach before the start of the 2014-15 campaign, he expected to go through a three-year process before his players hit stride. The Stars always seemed to run ahead of schedule.
    “We went to nationals the first two,” said Slobodzian. “This year, we are tough to play against, really tough.”
    Having finished first in the SFMAAAHL for the third year in a row, the Stars will attempt to win a third straight league title and also advance to the Esso Cup national championship tournament for a third straight year.
    This year’s Esso Cup runs April 23-29 in Morden, Man.
Goalie Arden Kliewer enjoys Sunday’s win with her Stars teammates.
    The Stars take their first step on the playoff road by taking on the Weyburn Southern Range Gold Wings (0-28) in a best-of-five SFMAAAHL quarter-final series. All eight teams in the SFMAAAHL move on to the post-season.
    Game 1 of the series between the Stars and Gold Wings is set for Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. at the Agriplace Arena. Game 2 is Friday in Weyburn. Game 3 is set for Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Agriplace Arena.

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