SABRES SCORE THREE IN THE FIRST, CLINCH FIRST PLACE
by Wendy Graves
STONEY CREEK, Ont. – The Stoney Creek Sabres scored three times in the first period, then hung on to defeat the Weyburn Gold Wings 3-2 and clinch first place at the Esso Cup on Wednesday night.
Kayla Vespa (Stoney Creek, Ont.), Megan Korzack (Grimsby, Ont.) and Alexa Vasko (St. Catharines, Ont.) tallied 10-minutes apart for the Sabres.
Second period goals from Madison Solie (Sedley, Sask.) and Paige Smith (Midale, Sask.) pulled Weyburn within one, but the Gold Wings couldn’t find the equalizer.
The day’s finale was the battle for first.
But after the first 15 minutes, it looked like the Weyburn Gold Wings was fighting a losing war.
Both Weyburn and the Stoney Creek entered Wednesday night 3-0. And with two teams already at three losses, their places in Friday’s semifinals were secure. Tonight was more about positioning themselves for the playoffs.
Stoney Creek struck first. Perhaps it’s best if Vespa just describes the goal herself:
“My line mate trapped it in the corner,” she said after the game. “I got it from her skate and did my first toe drag there. I saw a defender in front of the net, so I put it between her skates and her stick. I saw the goalie go right side, so I shot left and hoped it went in.”
Stoney Creek doubled its lead 12 minutes in. Amanda Butterfield (Grimsby, Ont.) tapped the puck to Sarah Nelles (St. Anns, Ont.), who tipped it to Korzach, who broke in and beat Jane Kish (Weyburn, Sask.) high.
Already playing on its heels, Weyburn put itself on the man disadvantage when Whitney Thorpe (Regina, Sask.) took a cross-checking penalty.
And the team almost got away with it.
With one second left on the power play, Claire Merrick (Oakville, Ont.) found a streaking Vasko out front. The driving Merrick appeared to knock the net off its pegs before Vasko got her shot off, but the goal stood.
In the second Weyburn got the quick jump. Forty-eight seconds in, Solie’s slapshot from the point simply seemed to elude Serena D’Angelo (Stoney Creek, Ont.).
Proving persistence pays, Smith brought her team within one halfway through the game when she picked up her own blocked shot and flicked home the rebound.
It was the host team’s fans going home happy at the end of the night. As much as the fans enjoy watching their team, the players love the support they see and hear every game.
“It’s great playing in front of all our family and friends,” Stoney Creek Sabre Hannah Miller (Georgetown, Ont.) said. “It would mean the world to me (to win the Esso Cup here).”
“We’re lucky to be hosting,” Vespa added. “It’s an incredible experience. I hope every girl dreams of it.”