Friday, 26 April 2019

Kliewer holds fort in goal as Stars unsung hero

Arden Kliewer has been a standout in goal for the Stars.
    Arden Kliewer remembers being awestruck during her first few practices as a regular with the Saskatoon Stars.
    Joining the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League powerhouse club as a 14-year-old underage rookie goalie in 2016-17, Kliewer looked around and couldn’t believe she was on the same ice surface as veteran standouts like Willow Slobodzian, Abby Shirley, Julia Rongve, Mackenna Parker, Grace Shirley, Anna Leschyshyn and Joelle Fiala.
    “It was definitely a little bit intimidating with those girls, especially because they are such high performing athletes,” said Kliewer. “You can tell kind of as where they ended up.
    “I definitely kind of came in there a little bit intimidated. I was three years younger than some of those girls. One I got into the flow of the team, everything kind of settled down.
    “It just felt like normal teammates.”
Arden Kliewer is skilled at playing the puck.
    Still, it was a big deal for Kliewer to make the Stars. She was thankful the opportunity came a little sooner than she expected due an early departure.
    “Kind of ever since I knew that the Stars were a thing, it was kind of a goal of mine that I wanted to come and play for this team,” said Kliewer, who stands 5-foot-8. “That summer, I wasn’t really expecting to come to tryouts just because knew there wasn’t a spot.
    “I kind of remember being at the lake and my dad said that he had gotten an email from (head coach) Greg (Slobodzian) saying that Emma Johnson was not going to be returning, and that they like me to come to fall camp. That is kind of how it happened.”
    Johnson elected to not return to the Stars for her 17-year-old season in order to focus on playing basketball. She currently plays hoops for the University of Western Ontario Mustangs Women’s Basketball team.
    Kliewer started out as a goalie partner with veteran Jordan Ivanco during her first two seasons with the Stars. During that time, Ivanco usually got the call to play in the team’s biggest games.
    Now Kliewer is the third-year veteran who gets the call in the Stars biggest games. In 2018-19, she had her best regular season to date posting a 16-0 record, a 1.21 goals against average, a .941 save percentage and seven shutouts.
Arden Kliewer takes away the lower part of the net.
    Kliewer said the fact her team plays well in front of her has helped her have an outstanding season.
    “I think it just kind of goes to trust,” said Kliewer. “I trust my teammates, and they trust me as well (and) that just kind of goes a long way with each other.
    “We have great practices, so we just kind of get ready for it.”
    Stars head coach Greg Slobodzian said Kliewer has played a big part in the success the Saskatoon club has had over the past three seasons.
    “She has been absolutely huge whether it was when she first came in and sort of pushed our other goaltender,” said Slobodzian. “Then this year she took Kat (Kaitlyn Cadrain) our rookie and just sort of showed her what our work habits needed to be like.
    “She (Kliewer) is just so steady back there and so consistent. It is tough, because sometimes she doesn’t get the recognition that she deserves, because she is only seeing a handful of shots. The way that she breaks a forecheck with her passing skills and how she handles the puck we’ve never really had that.
Arden Kliewer has been spectacular in her third season with the Stars.
    “It adds a whole another dimension. Obviously, she is going to play a huge role here.”
    Kliewer said she has enjoyed playing a mentor role in helping Cadrain along.
    “I mean it is definitely a little bit different,” said Kliewer. “I kind of just like wanted to help her out in her first year.
    “I wanted to make sure she kind of understands the league. It is definitely a lot more responsibility knowing that I am the older goalie. It has been a good season.
    “I think this one has probably been my best season by far.”
    Growing up playing hockey in Saskatoon, Kliewer admits she was destined to be a goalie.
    “My dad was a goalie,” said Kliewer. “My grandpa was a goalie, so I think it just kind of ran in the family that at some point I was going to end up being a goalie.
Arden Kliewer (#30) clears the puck up the boards for the Stars.
    “I always kind of wanted to be like my dad when I was younger. I think that is just kind of how it happened.”
    Arden credits her father, Rob, and mother, Lindsay, on being big influences in helping her along in hockey.
    The young netminder was excited to play a big part in helping the Stars win a second straight SFMAAAHL title and return to the Esso Cup female midget AAA national championship tournament for a second straight year.
    The Stars lost last year’s national title game 2-1 to the Alberta based St. Albert Slash, who won the national crown for a second straight year.
    Saskatoon is playing through this year’s Esso Cup currently being held in Sudbury, Ont.
    The Stars will face the Slash in a semifinal contest on Friday.
Jayda Sachs, left, and Arden Kliewer pose with the Fedoruk Cup.
    “It is definitely a little bit of a different experience,” said Kliewer. “Kind of this year, we want to go back with a little bit of a chip on our shoulders kind of to prove to everyone that last year we deserved to walk away with that championship.”
    Kliewer said she was ready to step in goal for the Stars in their key contests at nationals.
    When the dust settles, she would love to be playing in the national final once again and hopefully helping the Stars come away with a gold medal win.
    “It would be huge to kind of go back there, especially when it is on TV again,” said Kliewer. “It would kind of bring back those memories, and I think it would definitely be something that our team would want to close off this year for sure.
    “We would want to come out of that with that championship.”

Stars top Esso Cup prelim round, Leschyshyn sets records

Anna Leschyshyn set two records at the Esso Cup on Thursday.
    An early hiccup couldn’t prevent the Saskatoon Stars from finishing first in the preliminary round of the Esso Cup female midget AAA national championship tournament.
    The Stars opened this year’s Esso Cup on Sunday at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex in Sudbury, Ont., downing the Ontario-based Stoney Creek Sabres 6-4.
    On Monday, the Stars dropped a surprising 7-3 decision to the As de Quebec to fall to 1-1 with two tough games coming up on their schedule.
    Saskatoon reset and slipped past the two-time defending Esso Cup champion St. Albert Slash 3-2. The Stars entered the third period of that contest locked in a 2-2 tie with the Alberta squad.
    Halle Helperl, a rookie winger who turned 15-years-old in January, netted the winning goal for the Stars with 5:28 remaining in the third period.
    Against the host Lady Wolves on Wednesday, the Stars entered the third period trailing 2-1 before rallying for a 3-2 victory. Defender Emily Holmes scored the equalizer for the Stars with 4:23 remaining in the third period, and captain Grace Shirley netted the winner with 41.9 seconds remaining in the third.
Emily Holmes started a Stars comeback on Wednesday.
    On Thursday, the Stars won their third straight round robin game romping past the Halifax Fire 11-1. That win allowed the Stars to finish first in the preliminary round standings with a 4-1 record.
    In the romp over the Fire, Stars star winger Anna Leschyshyn netted five goals and three assists for eight points. Her five goals set a record for most goals in one Esso Cup game, and her eight points set a record for most points in one Esso Cup game.
    The old record of most points in one game of seven was shared by Taylor Woods and Olivia Howe. Both players netted seven points in the same game playing for the Notre Dame Hounds, when the Hounds bombed the Kings County Kings 14-2 on April 19, 2011.
    The Hounds went on to win the Esso Cup title that year.
    In that Hounds victory, Woods set the old record for most goals scored in one Esso Cup game at four. Kate Gallant of the Durham West Lightning would also match the old record of most goals scored in one Esso Cup game at four in 2017.
    The Stars will face the Slash, who were 2-2-1 in the preliminary round, in one of Friday’s two semifinals. The other semifinal sees an all-Ontario encounter between the Lady Wolves (4-1) and the Sabres (3-2).
    The Fire and As de Quebec both missed the playoff round each posting 1-4 records.
    The Esso Cup concludes on Saturday with bronze and gold medal games. The gold medal contest will be shown live on TSN2 at 2 p.m. Saskatchewan time.

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