Sunday, 17 April 2016

Leschyshyn delivers for Stars

Saskatoon opens Esso Cup with 2-0 win over Weyburn

Anna Leschyshyn, centre, celebrates scoring for the Stars.
    WEYBURN, Sask. - Anna Leschyshyn is making an ever increasing number of plays when the Saskatoon Stars need them the most.
    In their opening match at the Esso Cup female midget AAA hockey championship tournament on Sunday, the Stars were firing everything including the kitchen sink at Weyburn Southern Range Gold Wings goaltender Chantal Burke. With 26.6 seconds to play in the second period, Leschyshyn gathered a rebound during a net scramble and fired the puck five-hole on Burke for a power-play goal while being taken down on the ice.
    Leschyshyn’s goal gave the Stars a 1-0 lead over the Gold Wings, who are the tournament’s host team. Saskatoon added another goal late in the third to skate away with a 2-0 victory at Crescent Point Place.
    “I didn’t really know it went in,” said Leschyshyn. “I was just kind of getting pucks to the net and trying to bang in the rebound and it went in. I was just really excited.”
Anna Leschyshyn (#7) is stopped by goalie Chantal Burke.
    Standing 5-foot-10, you almost forget that Leschyshyn is only 14-years-old. Her smooth skating ability, strong stickhandling and good touch around the net makes her a threat to score every time she is on the ice.
    In 28 regular season games for the Stars, Leschyshyn netted 15 goals and 11 assists to finished third in team scoring in her first full season in the midget AAA ranks. She added another six goals and four assists in 11 games in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League playoffs.
    Back on March 26, Leschyshyn potted the equalizer that forced overtime in the Stars 4-3 SFMAAAHL championship series clinching victory against the Diamond Energy Wildcats in Swift Current.
Anna Leschyshyn charges up ice on a rush for the Stars.
    Leschyshyn came through in another key moment in the Stars series clinching win in their Western regional playdown series back on April 2 against the Yellowhead Chiefs in Shoal Lake, Man. The Stars trailed that contest 1-0 until Leschyshyn netted the equalizer 18 seconds into the third period to spark a 3-1 come-from-behind victory.
    Against the Gold Wings on Sunday, Leschyshyn said her side never got discouraged, when Burke kept making save after save. Burke finished the contest turning away 38 shots.
    “We just had to keep getting pucks to the net,” said Leschyshyn. “She (Burke) gives up a lot of rebounds.
    “We just have to crash the net and put those rebounds in.”
    Despite Leschyshyn’s goal, the Gold Wings did push back in the third. Stars standout goaltender Emma Johnson came up with a big 22-save effort to record her fifth shutout of the post-season.
Saskatoon netted a key insurance goal at the 16:50 mark of the third, when Joelle Fiala and Grace Shirley combined to set up Abby Shirley off a hard rush into the offensive zone.
    While the Stars had the majority of the scoring chances, the Gold Wings had a number of opportunities of their own to steal victory. Gold Wings star left-winger Bailee Bourassa, who has committed to joining the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s team in the fall, was robbed by Johnson on three different breakaway chances, which included two short-handed opportunities in the second period.
Emma Johnson makes one of her 22 stops for the Stars.
    Leschyshyn potted the winner shortly after Bourassa was turned away on her second short-handed breakaway chance.
    When the dust settled, Leschyshyn said her team was pleased with their tournament opening victory noting the experience of playing at last year’s Esso Cup in Red Deer, where the Stars won a bronze medal, was a big help as well.
    “We are really happy to get the tournament started off with a good win,” said Leschyshyn. “I think we knew what was coming.
    “We had to get the first win out of the way and have a good start to the first game.”
    The Stars return to action on Monday, when they face the Express du Richelieu from Quebec at 3:30 p.m. The host Gold Wings take on the Brantford Ice Cats from Ontario at 7 p.m. All Esso Cup games are being played at Crescent Point Place.
    In other Esso Cup action from Sunday, the Express downed the Bedford, N.S., based Metro Boston Pizza 1-0, and the De Winton, Alta., based Rocky Mountain Raiders slipped past the Ice Cats 2-1.

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