Monday, 18 March 2019

Stars a win away from returning to SFMAAAHL final

Grace Shirley had two big playoff games for the Stars.
    It appears the rust factor hasn’t hampered the Saskatoon Stars.
    After going 25 days between games, the Stars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League semifinal series against the Notre Dame Hounds. The Stars, who are the defending SFMAAAHL champions, will be looking to close the series out in Game 3 on Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place.
    Saskatoon concluded its regular season schedule blanking the Hounds 6-0 in Wilcox, Sask., back on Feb. 17. The Stars topped the regular season standings with a 27-1 record.
    Due to a schedule break to allow SFMAAAHL players to take part in the Canada Winter Games that were held in Red Deer in late February and earlier this month and the fact the Stars had bye into the semifinal round of the post-season, the Stars hit the ice last Friday having gone 25 days without playing a game.
    In Game 1 of their SFMAAAHL semifinal series with the Hounds on Friday, the Stars posted a 6-1 victory at Merlis Belsher Place. The Stars led 1-0 after the first period, 4-0 after the second period and were up 6-0 in the third before the Hounds replied with their single goal.
    Captain Grace Shirley had a goal and three assists for the Stars, while Anna Leschyshyn had a pair of goals. Makena Kushniruk, Joelle Fiala and Kaitlin Jockims had singles for Saskatoon, while offensive defender Ashley Messier had a pair of assists.
    Kaitlyn Gilroy replied for the Hounds, who finished fifth in the SFMAAAHL regular season with a 12-13-3 record.
    Arden Kliewer made 17 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Stars. Kaitlyn Ross turned away 32 shots to take the setback in goal for the Hounds.
    The series shifted to the Duncan McNeill Arena in Wilcox for Game 2 on Sunday, where the Stars pulled out a 3-1 win. Saskatoon led 1-0 after the first period and 3-0 after the second frame before the Hounds answered back with a goal in the third.
Kaitlyn Ross made a number of big saves for the Hounds.
    Alison Olorenshaw, Jockims and Messier netted singles for the Stars. Shirley assisted on all three Saskatoon goals.
    Brynn Maclean had a single for the Hounds.
    Kliewer made 16 saves to pick up the win in goal for the Stars. Ross turned away 24 shots to take the setback in net for the Hounds.
    The Stars SFMAAAHL league award winners and all-star selections were announced, when their series with the Hounds began.
    Kushniruk claimed the Fiona Smith Most Sportsmanlike Player award, and Messier captured the Colleen Sostorics Top Defenceman award, while being named a first team all-star.
    Shirley and Jockims were named first team all-stars at forward.
    Kliewer was named a second team all-star along with Leschyshyn at forward and Chace Sperling on defence.
    If the Hounds are able to win Game 3, they will host Game 4 on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Duncan McNeill Arena.
    If a series deciding Game 5 is required, it will be held this coming Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place.

Rebels, Wildcats SFMAAAHL semi even at 1-1

Neena Brick had two strong games for the Rebels against the Wildcats.
    It appears the SFMAAAHL semifinal series between the Regina Rebels and the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats will be a lengthy one.
    The Rebels and Wildcats split the first two games of their best-of-five set. Game 3 is slated for Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Co-operators Centre in Regina.
    In Game 1 of their series on Saturday at the Co-operators Centre, the host Rebels skated to a 3-0 victory.
    Samantha Sichkaruk, Jordan Fry and Neena Brick all scored singles for the Rebels.
    Chantel Weller turned away 11 shots to pick up the shutout win in goal for Regina.
    Amaya Giraudier turned away 32 shots to take the setback in net for the Wildcats.
    Swift Current played without two key veterans in Game 1 as captain Taylor Lind, who is the SFMAAAHL’s MVP, and defender Tobi Fontaine were both nursing minor undisclosed injuries.
Crystal Wale came up big in a Game 2 win for the Wildcats.
    Both Lind and Fontaine were back in action for the Wildcats in Game 2 on Sunday at the Fairview Arena in Swift Current. They weren’t able to pick up any points, but their supporting cast helped deliver the Wildcats to a 3-1 win.
    Ashlee Wolfe and Crystal Wale netted singles to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Brick replied for the Rebels with the lone goal in the second period to cut the Wildcats edge to 2-1.
Ryleigh White scored for the Wildcats on the power play with 3:04 remaining in the third period to cement Swift Current’s victory.
    Giraudier stopped 40 shots to pick up the win in goal for the Wildcats, who were third in the SFMAAAHL’s regular season with a 17-10-1 record. Weller turned away 22 shots to take the setback in goal for the Rebels, who were second in the SFMAAAHL’s regular season with a 17-7-4 mark.
Game 4 of the series between the Rebels and Wildcats is slated for Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. at the Fairview Arena in Swift Current.
    If a series deciding Game 5 is needed, it will be held this coming Friday at 8 p.m. at the Co-operators Centre in Regina.

Stars alums off to NCAA’s Frozen Four

Emily Clark will be playing in her last NCAA Frozen Four.
    A trio of alums from the Saskatoon Stars are headed to the Frozen Four of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s national women’s hockey championship tournament in Division I play.
    Last Saturday, Stars grads Emily Clark and Sophie Shirley, who are both forwards, helped the top seeded University of Wisconsin Badgers blank the Syracuse University Orange 4-0 in a quarter-final contest at the LaBahn Arena in Madison, Wisconsin, before 2,423 spectators.
    Clark, who played for the Stars from 2009 to 2012, had assists on the Badgers first two goals, which were both scored by Annie Pankowski. Shirley, who played for the Stars from 2012 to 2015, was held without a point for the Badgers on Saturday.
    Both Clark and Shirley are members of Canada’s national women’s hockey team program. Clark skates with the senior women’s team, and Shirley is a member of the national development team.
    Clark missed time at the beginning of the season due to an injured left leg. Skating in her fourth and final season with the Badgers, Clark has appeared in 32 overall games recording 14 goals, 13 assists and a plus-22 rating in the plus-minus department.
    Shirley had had an outstanding rookie season with the Badgers appearing in 39 overall games recording 20 goals, 18 assists and a plus-35 rating.
    The Badgers have a 33-4-2 overall record this season and advance to the Frozen Four for a sixth straight year. The Frozen Four runs this coming Friday to Sunday at the People’s United Center in Hamden, Connecticut.
    In one semifinal on Friday, the Badgers face the fourth seeded Clarkson University Golden Knights (30-7-2). The Golden Knights won the NCAA title the last two straight years.
Willow Slobodzian in action with the Stars in 2017.
    The third Stars alum heading to the Frozen Four is Willow Slobodzian, who is a defender for the Cornell University Big Red.
    Slobodzian, who played for the Stars from 2014 to 2017, had an assist for the Big Red as they won a 3-2 overtime thriller against the third seeded Northeastern University Huskies in a quarter-final match at the Matthews Arena in Boston, Mass.
    Gillis Frechette had the OT winner for Cornell.
    Cornell heads to the Frozen Four for the first time since 2012.
    The Big Red improved their overall record to 24-5-6, while the Huskies finish at 27-6-5.
    The Huskies roster contains Prince Albert Northern Bears alum Brooke Hobson, who had an assist for Northeastern University in the setback. Hobson played for the Bears from 2011 to 2017.
    In 35 games with the Big Red this season, Slobodzian had four goals, eight assists and is a plus-22.
    Hobson finished her second season with the Huskies appearing in 38 games recording six goals, 22 assists and a plus-27 rating.
    The Big Red will take on the second seeded University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (31-5-1) in the other NCAA semifinal set for this coming Friday.
    The semifinal winners will meet this coming Sunday in the NCAA championship game.
    For anyone in Saskatchewan that gets the Big Ten Network on their television packages, the Big Red semifinal game this coming Friday featuring Slobodzian will be shown live at 2 p.m. Saskatchewan time. The Badgers semifinal game featuring Clark and Shirley will follow at 5 p.m. Saskatchewan time.
    Sunday’s NCAA championship game will be shown life at 12:30 p.m. Saskatchewan time on the Big Ten Network.

Willoughby to play for CWHL title with Inferno

Kaitlin Willoughby in action with the Huskies in 2018.
    Kaitlin Willoughby will try to close her rookie season as a professional with a Canadian Women’s Hockey League title.
    This coming Sunday, the 23-year-old forward from Prince Albert, Sask., who originally hails from Canwood, Sask., will travel with her Calgary Inferno to Toronto to face Les Canadiennes de Montreal in a one-game league championship final for the Clarkson Cup. The Clarkson Cup will be played at the Coca-Cola Coliseum and will be shown life on Sportsnet at 10 a.m. Saskatchewan time.
    The Inferno topped the CWHL regular season standings with a 23-4-0-1 record. Les Canadiennes finished second with a 21-6-0-1 mark.
    Willoughby has appeared in 27 games with the Inferno collecting one goal and five assists. On March 11, she captained Canada’s women’s hockey team to a silver medal win at the FISU Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
    Canada fell 2-0 in the gold medal game to the host Russian side. In six games at the tournament, Willoughby had a goal, three assists and was a plus-five.
    Before joining the Inferno, Willoughby was a star for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team from 2013 to 2018 finishing as the squad’s second all-time leading scorer posting 50 goals and 61 assists for 111 points in 132 career regular season games.
    From 2008 to 2013, Willoughby appeared in 96 regular season games with the SFMAAAHL’s Prince Albert Northern Bears piling up 34 goals and 63 assists for 97 points.
    While playing for the Inferno and for Canada at the FISU Winter Universiade, Willoughby is competing her studies in nursing at the U of Saskatchewan.

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