Sunday, 11 November 2018

Stars’ Shirley hits 80 career SFMAAAHL goals in style

Grace Shirley scored the OT winner for the Stars on Sunday.
    Grace Shirley always seems to rise to the occasion in big moments.
    With that said, it should come as no surprise the Saskatoon Stars captain hit another major milestone on an overtime winning goal.
    On Sunday afternoon with the Stars locked in a 2-2 tie with the Prince Albert Northern Bears at Merlis Belsher Place, Shirley drove home the winning goal on the power play from the front of the Bears net with 72 seconds remaining in the extra session. Shirley’s goal gave the Stars a 3-2 victory, and she became just the third player to score 80 career regular season goals in the history of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League.
Grace Shirley, left, celebrates her OT winning goal with Joelle Fiala (#27)
    In 92 career regular season games, Shirley has collected 80 goals and 57 assists for 137 points to sit as the fourth all-time leading scorer in the history of the SFMAAAHL. She was caught off guard when told she reached 80 career regular season goals.
    “I guess it is pretty cool,” said Shirley. “I like didn’t realize it or anything.
    “It is kind of nice to hear that. I’m just happy that we got the win, because I definitely think we deserved it.”
    The other players that scored 80 or more regular season goals in the history of the SFMAAAHL were Olivia Howe, who piled up 107 goals in 106 regular season games playing for the Notre Dame Hounds from 2008 to 2012, and Shirley’s former Stars teammate Mackenna Parker, who collected 82 goals in 104 regular season games. Parker graduated from the Stars as their captain at the end of last season.
Paris Oleksyn scored the Bears first goal on Sunday.
    Shirley has built a history of scoring big overtime goals for the Stars. In her rookie season in 2015-16, she scored the overtime winner in the deciding game of the SFMAAAHL championship series to give the Stars their second league title.
    Stars head coach Greg Slobodzian said he never stops being amazed by his talented captain.
    “She (Shirley) is definitely a player that likes to rise to the occasion,” said Slobodzian. “She has done it for us a few times in overtime.
    “She did it again. As soon as it went in, my assistant coaches looked at me and said, ‘Wow, great move.’ Her in front of the net like that, there are pretty good odds it is going in.”   
Abby Soyko drives home the Bears second goal on Sunday.
    Shirley admitted the moment of scoring her 80th career regular season goal was made more memorable because it came in overtime against the Bears, who are the Stars biggest rivals.
    “They are a really good team,” said Shirley. “They battled hard.
    “It was definitely a close game. It was nice to get the win over them for sure.”
Sunday’s game had a few changes in momentum.
    The Stars went ahead 1-0 in the first period on a goal from forward Kaitlin Jockims.
    The Bears jumped in front 2-1 scoring twice in a span of 83 seconds near the midway point of the second period. Prince Albert’s tallies came off the sticks of Paris Oleksyn and captain Abby Soyko, who scored off a hard drive to the Saskatoon net.
Ashley Messier had the equalizer for the Stars on Sunday.
    The Stars evened things up at 2-2 with 1:42 remaining in the second period on a hard mid-range blast from offensive-defender Ashley Messier.
    The two sides played through a scoreless third to set things up for Shirley’s heroics in overtime.
Kaitlyn Cadrain made 28 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Stars. Scout Anderson turned away 30 shots to take the overtime setback in the Bears net.
    The Stars improved to 10-0 with the win, while the Bear record moved to 5-4-1.
    Saskatoon and Prince Albert went at it on Saturday at Merlis Belsher Place with the Stars posting a 6-0 victory.
    Slobodzian expected a push back by the Bears in Sunday’s clash.
Goalie Kaitlyn Cadrain makes one of her 28 saves in goal for the Stars.
    “Teams answer the bell,” said Slobodzian. “They don’t like to chase the puck all night.
    “Today was the exact same. P.A. came and gave us what I expected. Their goaltender played well.
    “Those are the types of games that you want to play. I wish we were playing those games every day. That is how you get better as a group.”
    In Saturday’s 6-0 win by the Stars, Shirley and Chace Sperling each had a goal and an assist for Saskatoon. Anna Leschyshyn, Kaylee Baun, Calli Arnold and Jayda Sachs all had singles for the Stars.
    Jockims and Abby DeCorby had two assists each to help power the Saskatoon side.
    Arden Kliewer made 17 stops to pick up the shutout win in goal for the Stars. Lexi Beuker turned away 30 shots to take the setback in goal for the Bears.
Grace Shirley has scored 80 career regular season goals.
    Shirley said her squad has to be a little sharper, when they play teams a second time in a two-game weekend series.
    “We just have to come into our second game more focused and not thinking it is going to be easy,” said Shirley. “Every game, you need to put your best foot forward and just go hard all the time.
    “I think we just need to come into every game more focused and just with the mindset to work hard and kind of even finish off stronger than our first game. I think that will be something we work on for sure. We’ll take the two wins for sure here.”
    The Stars return to action this coming Saturday when they host the Weyburn Richardson Pioneer Gold Wings at 2:15 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place.
    The Bears next game is Nov. 24, when they host the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats at 7 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert.

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