Make it four consecutive Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League championships for the Edmonton Thunder, who closed out the Medicine Hat Tigers with a 3-1 road victory last Saturday, winning the best-of-five AMMHL final in four games.
Next up for the Thunder? A date with the Fraser Valley Phantom in the Pacific Regional from April 6-8 and hopefully a fourth consecutive trip to the Esso Cup as Pacific Region representatives.
Edmonton is the only team to have appeared at each of the first three National Female Midget Championships, winning silver last year and bronze in 2010 after a fourth-place finish at the inaugural event in Calgary, Alta., in 2009.
The Thunder will hit the road to Langley, B.C., for the best-of-three regional, looking to run their winning streak over BCFMAAAHL champions to eight games – it swept the Vancouver Fusion in 2009 before back-to-back two-game victories over the Thompson-Okanagan Rockets in 20.
Edmonton and Fraser Valley are not strangers to each other; the Thunder earned a 4-1 win over the Phantom during preliminary round play at the Mac’s Tournament in Calgary last December.
“We have some notes on them from there, so we’ll definitely be looking back at all those things,” Thunder head coach Bryan Keller told the Edmonton Examiner. “We know they’re a hard working team ... we’re going to somebody else’s rink and town and we got to adapt to the referees and adapt to the rink so it will be fun, we’re looking forward to it. It will be a great experience for our team.”
The AMMFHL’s No. 1 team entering the postseason, the Thunder rolled through the quarter-finals and semifinals, sweeping Grande Prairie and St. Albert and winning five of the six games by at least three goals.
But the road got a little rockier in the league final, with the Thunder needing a power play goal from Rachel Johnson with less than three minutes to go in Game 1 to force overtime, where Jessica Sekulic played the hero with the extra-time winner.
After a nail-biting 2-1 victory in Game 2, Edmonton suffered its first loss of the postseason on the road in Game 3, and found itself in a 1-0 hole after 40 minutes of Game 4, one period away from a trip back to Edmonton for a deciding Game 5.
But the Thunder flexed its offensive muscle in the third period, getting goals from Johnson, Kelsie Lang and Sydney Thomlinson in a span of less than eight minutes for all the offence it would need in a series-clinching win.
Amy Boucher finished as the Thunder’s leading playoff scorer, with 12 points (five goals, seven assists), while Johnson’s seven goals were one off the league lead.