Sunday, 18 February 2018

Parker hits 60, equals Clark for Stars season points record

Mackenna Parker, left, is hugged by Jordyn Holmes after tying a record.
    Tying a team record seems to have extra meaning, when it is held by your hero.
    On Sunday, Mackenna Parker to the ice at the Agriplace Arena needing to get one point to tie the Saskatoon Stars team record for most points in one regular season held by Emily Clark. Clark, who is playing with Canada’s women’s hockey team at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, recorded 26 goals and 34 assists for a team record 60 points in 26 games for the Stars in the 2011-12 Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League regular season.
    The Stars were taking on the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats on Sunday in the final regular season tilt for both sides. For the longest time, it appeared Parker wasn’t going to get her 60th point of the campaign.
    With the Stars holding a 3-1 lead late in the third, the Wildcats pulled goalie Amaya Giraudier for an extra attacker.
The Stars were happy after helping Mackenna Parker (#11) get her 60th point.
    Saskatoon defender Ashley Messier and veteran forward Kianna Dietz sprung Parker on a break down the right wing, and the skilled centre fired home her 33rd goal and 60th point of the season into an empty net with 60 seconds to play to put the finishing touches on a 4-1 Stars victory. She also had 27 assists on the campaign.
    After Parker scored, she was mobbed by her linemates in a unique joyous celebration you don’t normally see around an empty-net goal. 
    Everyone on the Stars knew what the significance of Parker’s goal was, and the 17-year-old captain thought of Clark. The two spent time together at various Hockey Canada camps.
Mackenna Parker had no luck offensively for most of Sunday’s game.
    “I’ve looked up to her (Clark) for a long time,” said Parker, who helped Canada win a bronze medal at the under-18 women’s worlds in January in Dmitrov, Russia. “Someday, I want to be in the Olympics like her, but I just have to keep working I guess.”
    Through the first two periods, Parker had a number of chances to score or set up a goal, but the points weren’t coming. During the contest, the Stars had five power-play opportunities and couldn’t find the back of the net on any of those chances.
    On the Stars second power-play chance coming in the first period, the Wildcats went ahead 1-0, when superstar winger Taylor Lind blew home her 28th goal of season past Stars netminder Jordan Ivanco on a two-on-one rush at the 12:46 mark of the frame.
    With 23.7 seconds to play in the first, Stars 16-year-old forward Kaitlin Jockims netted her 10th goal of the campaign to even the score at 1-1.
Taylor Lind gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead in the first period on Sunday.
    Joelle Fiala put the Stars up 2-1 at the 6:51 mark of the second with her 18th goal and 40th point of the season. Anna Leschyshyn netted her 24th goal of the season at the 13:14 mark of the third to extend the Stars edge to 3-1.
    For most of the last three minutes of the third, the Stars coaching staff left Parker on the ice in search of her elusive 60th point, which she got with her empty-net goal.
    Parker needed three points in the Stars last two regular season games - both against the Wildcats - to reach 60 points. She scored twice on Saturday as the Stars downed the Wildcats 5-2 at the Agriplace Arena to lock up first place in the SFMAAAHL. She proceeded to tie Stars record for most points in one regular season on Sunday.
    “It is amazing,” said Parker, who claimed the SFMAAAHL scoring title as well. “The past two games against Swift I realized I was that close. I just wanted to be able to get there.
Anna Leschyshyn gave the Stars a two-goal edge in the third period.
    “It was my team that did that too. Things just kind of like weren’t going my way like for the whole game (on Sunday). I just got that empty netter in the end and that is all that mattered.”
    Stars head coach Greg Slobodzian said he did get worried that Parker might be snakebitten during Sunday’s game. The veteran bench boss was pumped to see the Clavet, Sask., product break through to score the game’s final goal to get to 60 points.
    “She (Parker) works so darn hard,” said Slobodzian. “Every team that we play against focuses in on her defensively, and she is hooked and pulled down.
    “No other player on our team is treated the way she is treated. If I coached against her, I would do the same thing.
Ashley Messier (#8) had an assist on Mackenna Parker’s record-tying goal.
    “She gets frustrated, and she fights and fights and fights. To see her get rewarded like that, it just was a real special feeling not just for herself. Everyone was cheering her on, and everyone was extremely excited for her.”
    Ivanco made 18 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Stars, who improved to 24-3-1. Giraudier turned away 27-of-30 shots to take the setback in goal for the Wildcats, who fell to 13-11-4.
    Due to finishing first in the SFMAAAHL, the Stars earned a bye into the second round of the league playoffs, so they will wait to see who they will face in a best-of-five SFMAAAHL semifinal series. Parker, who appeared in 23 regular season games in 2017-18, is one of six players on the Stars who will exhaust their midget AAA eligibility at the end of playoffs along with Dietz, Ivanco, Dana Wood, Jordyn Gerlitz and Jordyn Holmes.
Stars captain Mackenna Parker kept receiving hugs post-game on Sunday.
    The captain wants to lead her team back into the Esso Cup national championship tournament, which runs April 22 to 28 in Bridgewater, N.S. The Stars won SFMAAAHL titles in 2015 and 2016 and appeared in the Esso Cup in both those years winning a bronze medal in the first visit to nationals.
    “I just want to lay everything on the line this time,” said Parker, who is in her fourth season with the Stars. “I want to get the team as far as we can go.
    “This time, I want to win the league and be able to go to Esso. That is my goal.”

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