Friday, 4 January 2019

13th career shutout extra special for Huskies’ Vance

Goalie’s mom honoured in team’s “Play For a Cure” night

Huskies G Jessica Vance and her teammates celebrate Friday’s win.
    It wasn’t close to the busiest night she ever had playing goal, but Jessica Vance’s 13th career regular season U Sports shutout will always be dear to her heart.
    On Friday night playing before 654 spectators at Merlis Belsher Place, Vance stopped 11 shots to back the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Women’s Hockey team to a 3-0 victory over the University of Calgary Dinos. Friday’s contest was the Huskies 11th annual “Play For a Cure” game, and the team was playing in honour of Vance’s mom, Liane.
    Liane was diagnosed with colorectal cancer last summer. She is still undergoing treatment for the disease, but since it was detected early, she has a good prognosis.
Jessica Vance covers up one of her 11 saves on Friday.
    This wasn’t the first time Jessica has seen a family member battle cancer. Her dad, Bruce, is a colorectal cancer survivor.
    He was diagnosed shortly after attending the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders 2013 Grey Cup victory in Regina and is closing in on being cancer free for five years.
    When Bruce went through his cancer battle, Jessica was starring for her hometown Prince Albert Northern Bears female midget AAA hockey team. She said the hockey rink is the happy place for her and her family.
    “You just go out there, and you just play your game,” said Jessica, who was Canada West Conference MVP and a U Sports first team all-Canadian all-star last season. “They love the sport of hockey too, so it makes them happy and myself playing too.”
    Jessica took part in a pre-game festivities, where Liane dropped the puck for a ceremonial faceoff.
Jessica Vance was the Canada West Conference MVP last season.
    Follow the game, Jessica took part in on ice photos with her family. She was perky and upbeat at night’s end.
    The 21-year-old, who has four shutouts this season, said she has focused on being as positive as possible this season as her mom battles cancer. Just recently, the Vance clan found out one of their family dogs, Bella, is battling cancer.
    “You try not to let it affect you too much,” said Jessica, whose Huskies improved to 10-6-1 with the win. “I’ve been through it before.
    “My family has been through it before. We kind of just know how to take it and know how to deal with it. I think playing hockey really helps too.
    “It was a big night for my mom and us, so it was fun.”

Liane Vance, centre, watches Friday’s Huskies game. 
    The opening 20 minutes of Friday’s game was the busiest stanza for Jessica, who made six saves in the frame. The Dinos held a 6-4 edge in shots on goal after the first period.
U of S took over the contest from that point on.
    The Huskies held 21-4 edge in shots on goal in the second period. They finally broke through scoring on the power play at the 17:02 mark of the second frame.
    Working down low in the right corner of the Dinos zone, Huskies fourth-year defender Leah Bohlken fed a pass across the face of the Dinos goal to third-year forward Emily Upgang, who made an easy backdoor tap to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
Bruce Vance is a cancer survivor.
    With 1:58 remaining in the third, Bohlken scored on the power play herself, when her shot from the right corner boards deflected off a Dinos player into the U of C goal to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead.
    Huskies rookie forward Kennedy Brown rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal with 16.6 seconds remaining in the third period. Brown’s goal was the first of her U Sports regular season career.
    Kelsey Roberts turned away 30-of-32 shots to take the setback in goal for the Dinos (2-13-2).
    “It is pretty special,” said Jessica about the night. “It was nice that I could get a shutout too.
    “It just kind of all makes it even more special, so it was good.”
    When the game itself got going, Jessica said it felt natural to focus on the task at hand
    “After puck drop, you just have to treat it like a normal game,” said Jessica, who is in her third year of U Sports eligibility. “You just try to not think about anything else.
Emily Upgang scored a power-play goal for the Huskies.
    “Maybe, you’ll have that extra kick, because there is something special to play for tonight.”
    Liane and Bruce try to make as many of Jessica’s games as possible like they did on Friday. It is rare for them to miss a home game, and last season, they made it to a number of Jessica’s road games.
    Jessica said her parents have been the biggest influences in helping her along in hockey. Bruce, who held a number of roles with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders from 2001 to 2015, was the team manager for the Bears, when Jessica played for them.
    With the Bears, Jessica played five seasons from 2010 to 2015 appearing in 91 regular season games posting a 48-36 record, a 2.27 goals against average, a .926 save percentage and 16 shutouts. Her career games played and win totals are still Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League records.
    Jessica moved on to play for the Bisons before joining the Huskies. In her two seasons with the Huskies, Jessica has appeared in 30 regular season games posting a 21-7-2 record, a 0.95 goals against average and a .957 save percentage to go with her 13 shutouts.
Jessica Vance (#30) poses for a post-game team picture.
    She is thankful for everything her parents have done for her.
    “I wouldn’t be where I am today without them,” said Jessica. “From footing the bill in AAA to me wanting to be a goalie, it is not cheap.
    “I literally wouldn’t be here today without them. They support me in whatever I want to do.”

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