WILLAN SCORES IN OT, SENDS SLASH BACK TO ESSO CUP FINAL
SUDBURY, Ont. – Madison Willan was ‘Captain Clutch,’ scoring 2:46 into overtime on Friday to lift the St. Albert Slash to a 2-1 victory over the Saskatoon Stars, and into the gold medal game at the Esso Cup for the third year in a row.
It is the second year in a row the Slash have ended the Stars’ national championship hopes; last year it was a 2-1 win in the final, this year by the same score one game earlier.
St. Albert will take on either the Sudbury Lady Wolves or Stoney Creek Sabres in the final on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, TSN2). Saskatoon will play the loser of the Sudbury-Stoney Creek semifinal for bronze (12 p.m. ET).
Willan, a member of both title-winning teams for the Slash, ended it in the extra period by stepping into a shot from the high slot and wiring the puck over a sprawling Arden Kliewer after the Saskatoon goaltender made a couple of big saves in a wild scramble.
Action on the ice in the first two periods made a loud and clear statement that the two teams know each other very well. The familiarity produced a game where the offensive talent on both clubs did not have the daylight to create quality scoring opportunities.
Dayle Ross finally opened the scoring for the Slash 30 seconds into the third period with a short-side wrist shot from the right corner that beat Kliewer over her shoulder, only for Kaitlin Jockims to keep the Stars’ hopes alive by drilling in a shot from the slot with just 94 seconds remaining.
Brianna Sank starred in the victory with 22 saves, which included 12 in a first period controlled by the Stars.
Kliewer was solid in defeat, making 26 saves on 28 shots.
LADY WOLVES BLANK SABRES TO PUNCH TICKET TO FINAL
SUDBURY, Ont. – Katie Chomiak scored two goals and added an assist to propel the Sudbury Lady Wolves to a berth in the gold medal game at the 2019 Esso Cup by beating the Stoney Creek Sabres 5-0 on Friday night.
Sudbury will attempt to become the first Esso Cup host to finish on top of the podium when it meets the St. Albert Slash, the two-time defending national champions, on Saturday afternoon (4 p.m. ET, TSN2).
Stoney Creek will go for bronze earlier in the day against the Saskatoon Stars (12 p.m. ET).
Mireille Kingsley, who was crowned Esso Cup MVP and Top Goaltender on Friday morning, made 18 saves to earn the shutout.
The Lady Wolves lived up to their animal namesake, coming out on the prowl offensively from the opening puck drop; they stormed to a 3-0 lead and an 18-5 edge in shots in the first 20 minutes of the all-OWHA semifinal.
Hannah Smith drew first blood at 8:14 by jamming in a rebound off an initial shot created by an electrifying end-to-end rush down the right wing by Chomiak. Chomiak scored herself with a shot from the left face-off circle, and Taylor Scott rounded out the opening period with a snipe that connected with the top-right corner with 1:24 to go.
Sabres goaltender Kayla McDougall was done after 20 minutes; Megan Warrener made 27 saves on 29 shots the rest of the way.
While the Lady Wolves held a 19-8 edge in shots in the second period, the Sabres did manage to stabilize their defensive end. They only yielded a power-play goal from Lauren Hancock with 40 seconds remaining in the middle frame.
Chomiak put an exclamation point on a dream night for Lady Wolves fans by fending off a couple of defenders to beat Warrener with a shot from the slot at 4:08 of the final period.
“It feels amazing. The girls came out, we were fired up, because whenever we play [Saskatoon] it’s such a good game. And to win against them in semis and go back to the final just means a lot.”
– OT hero Madison Willan (St. Albert Slash) on advancing to the gold medal game for the third year in a row
“It’s been our goal all year. First was to win provincial gold, next was to win gold here. That’s probably the best game we’ve played this week, so we’re going to keep that together, and grow on that emotion, grow on that determination, and just will ourselves to a gold.”
– Head coach Jay Duncan (Sudbury Lady Wolves) on going for gold