First provincial title won in March of 2015
|Kianna Dietz celebrates scoring for the Stars.|
On March 25, 2015, the host Saskatoon Stars blanked the Prince Albert A & W Bears 2-0 in Game 3 of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League championship series. With the win, the Stars swept the best-of-five set 3-0 and captured the Fedoruk Cup.
After the game’s final seconds ticked away at the Agriplace Arena, the Stars poured off their bench in a highly energetic celebration. They were bouncing all over the walls like young kids on a sugar rush the day after Halloween.
The pure excitement like came from the fact the Stars roster was young. The Saskatoon side had six players in their 15-year-old years and five players skating in their 14-year-old underage years.
|Sophie Shirley controls the puck in the offensive zone.|
The image of the Stars engaging in just pure and unfiltered joy was actually quite entertaining and even cute to watch. That win marked the first time the Stars won a provincial title on a circuit that is now known as the Saskatchewan Female Under-18 AAA Hockey League.
They beat their tradition rival to do it as well in a Bears side that is now known as the Prince Albert Northern Bears.
|Nara Elia gets set to dangle past the Bears defence.|
Going into that title winning game, there weren’t any thoughts about post-game celebrations on the Stars side. The focus was on beating the Bears.
The Bears had 17-year-old veteran Jessica Vance in goal who is still the SFU18AAAHL’s all-time leader in regular season goaltending wins. They had a couple of talented 17-year-old veteran forwards who could put up the points in Madison Casavant and Tylor Lindsey.
They had a 15-year-old offensive defender in Brooke Hobson, who had a shot that seemed to be given to her as a gift from the heavens and was a skilled power-play quarterback.
|The Stars celebrate a title winning goal from Jordyn Gerlitz.|
Prince Albert had younger players who might be X-factors too in 14-year-old rookie underage defenders Hannah Koroll and Jordan Ashe along with 13-year-old rookie underage forward Abby Soyko.
The Bears were guided by head coach Jeff Willoughby, who was already a league veteran and two-time league coach of the year at that point in time.
The Stars countered with the two best players in the league in centre Sophie Shirley, who is Grace’s older sister, and winger Nara Elia, who were all-world talents skating in their 15-year-old sophomore years.
|Captain Paige Michalenko was a steady veteran presence.|
In Game 2 of the series in Prince Albert, Sophie had two goals and an assist as the Stars blanked the Bears 3-0. In the Stars eight games of their post-season run to that point in time, Sophie had an incredible 12 goals and 12 assists.
The Stars were leaning on the talented Emma Johnson, who was a 15-year-old sophomore, to deliver in goal.
The five players the Stars had playing as 14-year-old underagers were already performing like veterans in forwards Mackenna Parker, Kianna Dietz, Jordyn Holmes and Jordyn Gerlitz along with supremely talented offensive defender Willow Slobodzian.
|Goalie Emma Johnson keeps the Bears at bay in the third.|
Jenna Nash was having a strong season playing defence in her 17-year-old season until a knee injury brought her campaign to an end shortly before playoffs started. Nash was still around offering support to her teammates.
Danielle Nogier, who was a 16-year-old centre, did a thankless job as a tight checking defensive shutdown forward. Hollie Coumont, who was a 16-year-old defender, provided points while being a colourful character who had character.
|Hollie Coumont was a character who had character.|
The Stars depth was rounded out by 16-year-old defender Danielle Girolami, 15-year-old defender Rayna Jacobson and 15-year-old utility player Kalista Senger. All three played important minutes at different points in the campaign.
Veteran hockey coach Greg Slobodzian took on the duties as Stars head coach that season and shared the league’s coach of the year honours in that campaign with Chad Kish, who was the head coach of the Weyburn Southern Range Gold Wings.
|Anna Leschyshyn picked up an assist on the Stars second goal.|
Vance and Johnson took centre stage in the opening 20-minutes with the Stars holding a slim 8-7 edge in shots on goal. Sophie and Elia were working their magic, but weren’t able to get the host side on the scoreboard.
The Stars supporting cast stepped into the spotlight in the second period and made the ultimate difference in the contest.
At the 7:31 mark of the frame, Dietz set up Gerlitz for the tally that put the Stars up 1-0. Gerlitz, who was a speed and high energy forward, would go down as first player to score an SFU18AAAHL championship winning goal for the Stars.
|The Stars begin celebrating their league title win.|
Just 14 seconds later, a net scramble occurred in front of the Prince Albert net. A sprawling Vance and Morgan Willoughby couldn’t stop Dietz from popping home the all important insurance goal.
Dietz immediately raised her arms in the air and she was mobbed by her teammates on the ice. While she was a rookie, Dietz had already established herself as the glue gal in the Stars dressing room. She had a deep love for her teammates and team.
Leschyshyn picked up a helper on that tally.
|The Stars raise the Fedoruk Cup.|
Johnson slammed the door the rest of the way officially making 22 saves to pick up the shutout win in goal. Vance turned away 20 shots taking the setback in net for the Bears.
The Stars forward unit of Nogier, Cormack and Heuchert performed a perfect shutdown job on the Bears in the final minute of the third period.
When time expired, the Stars were finally league champions.
In 2010, 2011 and 2012, the Stars made the league final but came up empty handed against Olivia Howe and her Notre Dame Hounds dynasty team.
|Brittany Heuchert, left, and Hollie Coumont kiss the Fedoruk Cup.|
The Stars advanced to the Esso Cup female under-18 AAA national championship hosted that year in Red Deer, Alta., in April of 2015. Saskatoon fell to the host Red Deer Chiefs in a semifinal game 2-1 after a tiebreaking shootout.
The Stars rebounded and won the bronze medal game 5-1 against the Central Plains Capitals from Portage la Prairie, Man.
Overall, the Stars posted a 45-5 record in 2014-15.
Still, the most memorable night was winning the league championship at Agriplace.
|The Stars pose for a team picture after winning the Fedoruk Cup.|
After the Stars players got showered and changed, the celebration continued for 90 minutes in the lounge area at the facility. It provided the opportune time for fellowship.
The memories made by all those with the Stars that night were ones that last for a lifetime. They truly were “the Shining Stars of Saskatoon.”
Shirley hits milestones with Badgers
Sophie Shirley added a couple of big milestones to her already well-decorated hockey resume over the past couple of days.
On Friday, the gifted centre, who is in her junior year, picked up an assist as her University of Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team fell in their NCAA regular season opener 3-2 to the Ohio State University Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio.
The helper was Shirley’s 100th career NCAA point.
On Saturday, the 21-year-old Saskatoon product scored twice to power the Badgers past the Buckeyes 5-0 in the second clash of a two-game series in Columbus, Ohio.
Shirley’s first tally was her 50th career NCAA goal. In 79 career games with the Badgers, Shirley has 51 goals and 51 assists for 102 points.
During her rookie campaign in 2018-19, Shirley piled up 20 goals and 18 assists for 38 points in 41 games helping the Badgers win an NCAA national championship.
Last season, Shirley recorded an incredible 29 goals and 32 assists for 61 points in 36 games for the Badgers. She was a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award as the top player in NCAA women’s hockey.
The Badgers weren’t able to complete their post-season run in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has gripped the world.
Shirley played two complete seasons for the Saskatoon Stars female under-18 AAA team and three games as an associate player call up in the 2012-13 season. In 58 career regular season games with the Stars, Shirley piled up 41 goals and 27 assists for 68 points.
At the moment, the Badgers are set to return to action this coming Friday, when they are scheduled to travel to Minneapolis, Minn., to play the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Clark celebrates 25th birthday on Saturday
|Emily Clark meets her fans at the SaskTel Centre in Nov. 2018.|
Clark, who is a member of Canada’s senior national women’s hockey team, played three seasons for her hometown Saskatoon Stars female under-18 AAA hockey team from 2009 to 2012. The supremely talented forward appeared in 82 regular season games for the Stars piling up 45 goals and 46 assists for 91 points.
During her final campaign with the Stars in 2011-12, Clark set the team record for most points scored in one regular season at 60. She piled up 26 goals and 34 assists for 60 points in 26 regular season games.
Her Stars record for most points in one regular season was matched by centre Mackenna Parker in the 2017-18 campaign, when Parker piled up 33 goals and 27 assists for 60 points in 23 regular season games.
|Emily Clark, centre, with her old Stars teammates in Dec. 2019.|
Clark won two gold medals representing Canada at the women’s under-18 world hockey championships in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
She was a member of Canada’s women’s hockey team that won a silver medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Clark played four seasons with the University of Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team from 2014 to 2019 posting 70 goals and 76 assists for 146 points in 147 career NCAA games. She helped the Badgers win an NCAA national championship in her final season with the team in 2018-19.
In all her hockey stops, Clark has been popular with all her teammates. She continues to be one of the game’s top role models.
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