Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Hounds stay alive, take double OT thriller over Stars

The Hounds celebrate a double OT winner from Lyndsey Janes.
    The belief factor just took a big jump up to another stratosphere for the Notre Dame Hounds.
    Facing elimination from the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League playoffs, the Hounds came through with arguably one of their best performances of the campaign against the defending league champion Saskatoon Stars on Tuesday night.
    At the 14:54 mark of double overtime, Hounds star 17-year-old forward Lyndsey Janes scored a power-play goal from the right side of the Saskatoon net to give her squad a 2-1 road victory at Merlis Belsher Place in Game 3 of a SFMAAAHL semifinal series.
    With the win, the Hounds cut the Stars lead in the best-of-five series to 2-1. Notre Dame will host Game 4 on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Duncan McNeill Arena in Wilcox.
Lyndsey Janes scored the double OT winner for the Hounds on Tuesday.
    If a series deciding Game 5 is needed, it will be held Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place.
    The Hounds appeared to be facing a tall task in trying to extend their series with the Stars. Heading into action on Tuesday, Saskatoon had won all seven encounters with Notre Dame in the 2018-19 campaign including action in the regular season, post-season and the championship game of the Mandi Schwartz Memorial Tournament, which the Hounds host.
    The Stars posted their best ever regular season record at 27-1 to top the SFMAAAHL standings. The Hounds finished fifth with a 12-13-3 mark.
Joelle Fiala had the Stars goal on Tuesday.
    The Hounds were also outscored by the Stars 9-1 over Games 1 and 2 of their SFMAAAHL semifinal series.
    Still, the Hounds displayed confidence at the start of Tuesday’s contest. In the first period, they were able to slow the game down with a neutral zone trap and held a 7-5 edge in shots on goal.
    The visitors continued to control play through the first half of the second period before the momentum changed.
    The Stars finally broke through on the scoreboard at the 10:05 mark of the second, when 17-year-old veteran standout forward Joelle Fiala scored from close in. At the time of Fiala’s goal, the Hounds held a 15-8 edge in shots on goal.
    Early in the third, the Stars had two golden chances to extend their edge and seal the game from star forward Anna Leschyshyn and defender Chace Sperling, but Hounds star 17-year-old goaltender Kaitlyn Ross slammed the door shut on both occasions.
Kaitlyn Ross made one of her 40 saves in goal for the Hounds.
    Thanks to Ross’s play in goal, the Hounds were able pull even at 1-1, when Janes set up defender Kas Kingston for a power-play goal at the 9:33 mark of the third.
    Before the third ended, Fiala had a prime chance from the front of the Notre Dame goal to put the Stars back out in front, but she was denied by the glove had of Ross.
    In the first overtime period that was 10 minutes in length, Stars netminder Arden Kliewer made a number of big saves to keep the game going as Notre Dame held a 7-3 edge in shots on goal.
Ross’s biggest save in that first extra frame came early, when she denied a drive from Stars star captain Grace Shirley.
    In the second overtime frame, Ross’s glove hand robbed Stars sophomore forward Makena Kushniruk from netting the winning goal.
Arden Kliewer made 32 saves in goal for the Stars.
    That set the stage for Janes to come through with the winner after 84 minutes and 54 seconds of game action.
    Ross turned away 40 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Hounds. Kliewer made 32 saves to take the setback in goal for the Stars.
    On Tuesday, the Hounds showed they won’t bow out of the SFMAAAHL playoffs quietly.
    On the other side, the Stars have journeyed through the SFMAAAHL campaign with very little adversity until now. Now the Stars players are going to have to show their character in rebounding from Tuesday’s heartbreaking setback.
    All of a sudden, the SFMAAAHL semifinal series between the Stars and Hounds has intrigue, because Saskatoon can’t be penciled automatically into the league championship series.
    The Hounds now truly believe they can win, and you could see it in their eyes, when they departed Merlis Belsher Place on Tuesday night.

Back in the Express with Messier

Ashley Messier is the Stars best defender.
    I was back in the pages of the Saskatoon Express this week with a feature story on Saskatoon Stars offensive defender Ashley Messier.
    Messier joined the Stars as a 14-year-old underage player in 2016-17. Now in her third season, she has been one of the squad’s standouts for some time.
    Now a 16-year-old veteran, Messier set career highs this season with five goals and 27 assists helping the Stars post their best regular season record ever at 27-1.
    Recently, Messier was named the winner of the SFMAAAHL’s Colleen Sostorics Top Defenceman award, and she claimed honours as a first team all-star.
    Messier’s family also has big connections to the game.
    The story on Messier can be found by clicking right here.

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