Sunday, 25 March 2018

Fiala, Jockims surge Stars to Game 2 win over Bears

Saskatoon takes 2-0 lead of SFMAAAHL title series

Joelle Fiala celebrates her game winner for the Stars.
    PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. - Joelle Fiala and Kaitlin Jockims drove home two big blows to knock the Prince Albert Northern Bears on the ropes.
    On Sunday night at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert, it appeared overtime was on tap for Game 2 of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League Championship series. With 5:40 to play in the third period, Bears star forward Abby Soyko zipped into the Saskatoon zone on the left wing to get in alone on a breakaway and scored on a coast-to-coast rush to lock the Bears in a 2-2 tie with the visiting Saskatoon Stars.
    Just 17 seconds later, the Stars responded when defender Abby DeCorby found Fiala in the low right slot, and Fiala drove home a shot to the top right corner short side on Bears goaltender Ryan Fontaine to give the Stars a 3-2 lead.
    Building off the momentum from Fiala’s goal, the Stars went up by two goals just 2:10 later when forward Kaitlin Jockims was sprung on a breakaway, and she popped home a tally to the left corner of the Prince Albert goal.
Stars F Joelle Fiala, left, battles Bears D Jordan Ashe for the puck.
    Those markers proved to be the difference as the Stars took the contest 4-2 and a 2-0 commanding lead in the best-of-five series against the Bears, who are the defending SFMAAAHL champions. Saskatoon will try to close things out at home in Game 3 on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Agriplace Arena and win their third league title in four years in the process.
    “It was exciting to get another goal since they just scored,” said Fiala about her game winner. “I think it was pretty big whether it was me or anyone else scoring.
    “We needed another goal just to get up a little bit since they just scored.”
    Jockims was pumped to add the insurance tally.
Kaitlin Jockims had a key insurance goal for the Stars.
    “I just kind of went to the net and shot it,” said Jockims. “It kind of put the game away, and the team felt more secure.
    “I thought we showed what kind of team we were. They kept scoring, and we kept scoring right after like keeping the momentum in like our favour.”
    The Stars ability to respond quickly after the Bears scores proved to be the difference in Sunday’s clash.
    The Bears opened the scoring when captain Hannah Koroll fired home a shot from the point through a screen to give her side a 1-0 lead with 4:54 to play in the first period. At that point in the contest, the Bears were controlling play having just worked on two straight power plays.
    Momentum changed with 1:22 to play in the opening frame, when Stars captain and SFMAAAHL regular season scoring leader Mackenna Parker netted a goal from close in to force a 1-1 tie. Just 37 seconds after her goal, the Stars took a 2-1 advantage, when the rebound of a point shot from defender Ashley Messier was knocked home by standout centre Grace Shirley at the left side of the Prince Albert goal.
    Bears head coach Jeff Willoughby pointed towards those two Stars tallies as being a big turning point in the contest.
Abby Soyko had the third period equalizer for the Bears.
    “The biggest key I think was the first period maybe,” said Willoughby. “They had two late goals in the first.
    “If we could have been 1-0 or even tied going into two, it is a different ball game.”
    The Bears had a big chance to force a tie in the second, when forward Haley Kicia tried to knock home a puck Stars netminder Arden Kliewer was having trouble controlling. Kliewer finally froze the puck to stop play and ultimately made 30 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Stars.
    Fontaine turned away 19 shots to take the setback in goal for the Bears.
    “As a team, I think we played hard,” said Fiala. “We pushed back.
    “P.A. played really well. They always give us a hard game. We maybe didn’t play our best, but that goes to show you how much better we can be.”
    With the Bears having the edge in scoring chances on Sunday, Willoughby said it was tough to see Game 2 slip away.
    “It is hard pill to swallow obviously,” said Willoughby. “The task of winning three games in a row seems like it is a hard thing to do too.
Stars goalie Arden Kliewer gathers in a loose puck in traffic.
    “You just have to look at it as one game at a time and one period at a time, and you break it down to one shift at a time and that is the only way you can look at it. If you look at it winning three games, it is too much to concentrate on.
    “That was the message we gave the girls. We just told them it happened in 2009 when the Bears won the league.”
    When the Bears won their first league title in team history in 2009, they dropped the first two games of the best-of-five title series to the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats before winning three straight to take the series 3-2.
    The Stars would like to flip the script from last season, when they were swept away by the Bears in the SFMAAAHL finals 3-0. Fiala said her team is aiming to finish things off in Game 3.
The Stars celebrate their Game 2 victory over the Bears.
    “We definitely want our broom back,” said Fiala. “We’re not going to play to lose.”

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