Monday, 5 November 2018

Rookie Olorenshaw quickly overcomes nerves in joining SFMAAAHL powerhouse Stars

Alison Olorenshaw had a goal and an assist for the Stars on Sunday.
    Alison Olorenshaw was impressed with how quickly the Saskatoon Stars star players helped put her initial jitters to rest.
    When the 15-year-old rookie winger joined the defending Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League champions, she couldn’t believe she was skating on the same ice surface with the Stars veteran stars like Grace Shirley, Joelle Fiala, Anna Leschyshyn and Ashley Messier.     
    Olorenshaw knew Shirley was a member of Canada’s under-18 women’s hockey team, Fiala had attended selection camp for Canada’s under-18 women’s squad and Messier was at the selection camp for the United States under-18 women’s team.
    The newcomer had thoughts running through her head that asked what was she doing being on the same ice surface as those players. To her relief, Olorenshaw found she was welcomed with open arms.
    “It just kind of feels natural,” said Olorenshaw, who stands 5-foot-7. “They make you feel a part of the team all the time.
    “Just playing with the older players, it is just really encouraging towards your own play and your team’s play.”
Alison Olorenshaw (#12) goes hard to the net for the Stars.
    On Sunday at Merlis Belsher Place, Olorenshaw found herself skating on the left wing on a line centred by Shirley in a SFMAAAHL regular season game against the Battlefords Sharks. Olorenshaw scored her first career SFMAAAHL regular season goal and teamed with Shirley to set up rookie 15-year-old defender Bridget Rezansoff for the game winner early in the third period of a 5-3 Stars victory.
    During the early part of the season, Olorenshaw has enjoyed becoming friends with Shirley and the other Stars veterans.
    “It was really cool,” said Olorenshaw. “They were really nice.
    “Watching them on the ice, it is just amazing how good they are. Just watching them skate around and passing it and how fast they play, it is really encouraging for the younger players.”
    Olorenshaw is experiencing some of her own early personal success. She had a goal and four assists in her first seven regular season appearances with the Stars.
The Stars celebrate a goal from Bridget Rezansoff, second from left.
    One person who knew Olorenshaw belonged in Saskatoon’s mix of players was Stars head coach Greg Slobodzian.
    “We were really excited about all the girls that we added to the team, but she was one that really fit into how I like to play,” said Slobodzian. “She plays with a whole bunch of composure with the puck on her stick.
    “That is the first thing I noticed, and I’ve been watching her for a few years now. I was really, really happy and excited that she chose to come our way. (She has) a great attitude.”
    The veteran bench boss said there has been some fun bumps early on with the rookie forward. Slobodzian said Olorenshaw still isn’t used to him cracking a joke.
    One episode came to mind during Saturday’s game, when the Stars downed the Sharks 8-0 at Merlis Belsher Place.
    “She (Olorenshaw) doesn’t know when I am kidding and when I am not kidding yet,” said Slobodzian. “She missed a pass, a really easy pass, so I asked her if she wanted the goalie stick out there.
Captain Grace Shirley has helped the Stars’ rookies feel welcomed.
    “She sort of looked at me like if I was serious, and all the girls were laughing.”
    Slobodzian said Olorenshaw’s talent on the ice can’t be denied.
    “She can shoot,” said Slobodzian. “She has to work on her skating a little bit, because we like to play so fast. Her mind is fast enough to play the way we want to play.”
    In Sunday’s win, Olorenshaw said she enjoyed picking up the assist on the winning goal more than finding the back of the net on one of her own shots. She was pleased to collect her first SFMAAAHL regular season goal and an assist, but she downplayed the statistical accomplishments too.
    “It was really good,” said Olorenshaw. “That was mostly my teammates.
    “That was because of them. They are the ones that got me the puck, and they are the ones that put the puck in the net. It was more of them than me.”
    Olorenshaw had an assist in Saturday’s win. Kaitlin Jockims had a hat trick for Saskatoon in that contest, while Jayda Sachs, Chase Sperling, Calli Arnold, Shirley and Makena Kushniruk had singles. Fiala and Leschyshyn each had three assists to help power the Stars offence.
    Arden Kliewer turned away 26 shots to pick up the shutout win in the Stars net.
    Haylie Biever stopped 37 shots in the Sharks net.
Kaitlin Jockims had a hat trick for the Stars on Saturday.
    Sunday’s encounter was more hotly contested where victory wasn’t sealed for the Stars until Leschyshyn scored the game’s final goal with 52.6 seconds to play in the third period.
    Halle Helperl and Sachs had singles for the Stars in that game, while defender Abby DeCorby had a pair of assists.
    Kaitlyn Cadrain made 17 stops to pick up the win in goal for the Stars, who improved to 8-0. Biever turned away 42 shots to take the setback in goal for the Sharks, who fell to 2-5-1.
    Slobodzian was impressed with the battle the Sharks showed in Sunday’s game.
    “They work really hard, and they have some girls that have some really good offensive skill,” said Slobodzian. “Their goalie, obviously, played really well and game them a chance.
    “At the end of the day, our team right now is not playing as consistently as I want. We have to figure out what it is going to take to be that really good team again, because we know we have it.
    “We’ve seen it, but then, we’ve also seen some real shaky hockey. It is not easy playing the way we want to play, and the girls, they just have to learn that those expectations are there every shift.”
The Stars celebrate their victory on Sunday.
    Going forward, Olorenshaw wants to keep improving and enjoy every moment she has playing with the Stars.
    “I find it awesome,” said Olorenshaw. “I’m not going to take it for granted, because this is a really cool experience just to be able to play with some of the girls on this team and watch them.
    “It is very encouraging, and you learn so much just from watching how fast they play and how they act around the team and things like that.”
    The Stars return to action this coming Saturday, when they host the Prince Albert Northern Bears at 2:30 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place.

Bears halt three-game skid

Jasper Desmarais scored for the Bears on Sunday.
    The Prince Albert Northern Bears put the stop to a rare three-game losing streak in SFMAAAHL regular season play over the weekend.
    Having dropped two games to the Rebels in Regina on Oct. 27 and 28, the Bears lost their third straight on Saturday in Melville falling to the host Prairie Fire 3-2 at the Horizon Credit Union Centre.
    Alli Soyko and Miranda Heidt netted singles for the Bears.
    Lexi Beuker started in goal for the Bears stopping 10-of-13 shots before being pulled at the 10:01 mark of the second period. Scout Anderson turned away all 15 shots she faced in relief.
    Anica Gauthier, Heather Fiske and Jordyn Bear all had singles for the Prairie Fire. Cheyenne Jamieson stopped 45 shots to pick up the win in goal for Melville.
    When those two same clubs met again on Sunday at the Horizon Credit Union Centre, the Bears skated away with an 8-4 victory to halt their losing streak.
    Captain Abby Soyko scored twice for the Bears, while Jasper Desmarais, Kate Ball, Haley Kicia, Brooklyn Anderson, Kailee Peppler and Tobi Fontaine all had singles.
    Anderson turned away 21 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Bears (5-3).
    Kailey Ottenbreit, Ava Metzger, Kyla Bear and Megan Hayhurst netted singles for Melville.
Janae Neufeld turned away 23 shots to take the setback in goal for the Prairie Fire (3-3).
    The Bears return to action this coming Saturday, when they travel to Saskatoon to take on the Stars at 2:30 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place.

Stars alum Shirley WCHA rookie of the month

    Sophie Shirley is finding life in the National Collegiate Athletic Association women’s hockey ranks suits her just fine.
    The 19-year-old centre was named the rookie of the month for September and October in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association women’s conference on Thursday. Playing for the University of Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team, Shirley had six goals and four assists in 10 games the Badgers played in September and October. Out of her six goals, two have been game winners.
    So far in her freshman campaign, Shirley has been named the WCHA rookie of the week once and the NCAA third star of the week once.
    Overall this season, Shirley, who stands 5-foot-9, has seven goals and five assists in 12 games with the Badgers, who are consistently one of the top teams in the NCAA year in and year out. The Badgers are 11-1 so far this season.
    The Saskatoon product played a total of 58 regular season games for her hometown Stars female midget AAA team from 2012 to 2015 piling up 41 goals and 27 assists.
    In her final season with the Stars in 2014-15, Shirley finished second in scoring in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League netting 22 goals and 17 assists in 27 regular season games and was named the league’s most valuable player. In the 2015 SFMAAAHL playoffs, Shirley amassed 12 goals and 12 assists as the Stars won nine straight games to claim their first league championship and advance to the Esso Cup national championship tournament.
    Shirley moved on to play in the Junior Women’s Hockey League with the Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask., and the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, B.C.
    Last season, Shirley played for the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League collecting eight goals and 11 assists in 26 regular season games. She was named CWHL’s rookie of the year.

4 Nations Cup still a great showcase without Clark

Emily Clark signs autographs for her hometown area fans on Thursday.
    The 4 Nations Cup will still be a great showcase of women’s hockey despite the absence of Emily Clark on the roster of Canada’s team.
    The 22-year-old forward won’t be able to play in the event due to an injury to her left leg. Clark suffered her injury while playing for the University of Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The Saskatoon product’s injury occurred in the opening minutes of a Badgers 4-2 home win on Oct. 13 against the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.
    Clark helped Canada’s senior national women’s hockey team win a silver medal at the Winter Olympics held last February in PyeongChang, South Korea. Clark is an alumna of the Saskatoon Stars female midget AAA hockey team.
    The 4 Nations Cup features the senior women’s national teams from Canada, the United States, Finland and Sweden. This year’s tournament, which is being held at the SaskTel Centre, begins on Tuesday with Finland taking on the United States at 12 noon, and Canada will face Sweden at 7 p.m.
    The event runs through to Saturday.
    On Sunday, Canada blanked Finland 6-0 in an exhibition tilt at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert. Melodie Daoust and Rebecca Johnston each had a goal and two assists for Canada. Captain Marie-Philip Poulin and Sarah Nurse each had a goal and an assist.
    Renata Fast and Natalie Spooner each netted singles for Canada.
    Shannon Szabados turned away nine shots playing the first 30 minutes in goal for Canada, and Emerance Maschmeyer stopped eight shots over the final 30 minute of Sunday’s contest.
    Eveliina Suonpaa made 25 saves going the distance in goal for Finland.
    Poulin said her side enjoyed playing a game once again in their home country.
    “It’s always so much fun,” said Poulin. “I think we reach out to the community.
    “Seeing little girls out there in the stands with their eyes wide open, I think that’s what we play for. Seeing those little girls may dream to be a part of this team, I think that’s quite awesome.”

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