GOLD WINGS ARE GOLDEN
by Wendy Graves
STONEY CREEK, Ont. – The Weyburn Gold Wings are the 2014 Esso Cup champions.
Tessa Wilson (Mazenod, Sask.) and Bailee Bourassa (Weyburn, Sask.) scored and Jane Kish (Weyburn, Sask.) made 29 saves as their team defeated the Edmonton Thunder 2-1 Saturday afternoon and earned the right to be called the best female Midget team in the country.
Brett Campbell (Edmonton, Alta.) had the lone goal for the Thunder. Goalie Tracie Kikuchi (Edmonton, Alta.) made 23 saves.
“I’m absolutely overjoyed,” said Kish. “Words can’t express how I feel right now.”
In the early going it was Edmonton creating the most chances. After four minutes, the Thunder had registered five shots on net while the Gold Wings had barely seen the offensive zone.
It took until 14 minutes in for Weyburn to finds its rhythm. End-to-end action two minutes later led to the game’s first goal.
Caitlin Dempsey’s (Heward, Sask.) initial shot on the rush was blocked, but a streaking Wilson fired from between the top of the face-off circles. Her shot went off of Kikuchi’s glove and trickled in.
Weyburn doubled its lead less than two minutes into the second. Bourassa broke down the right wing on a three-on-one, held and went high.
Campbell finally got Edmonton on the board seven minutes in. A scramble in front of the net led to Weyburn’s net coming off its pegs, but not before the puck had crossed the goal line.
Seven minutes into the third Edmonton found itself on an extended five-on-three. You had a feeling this would be the turning point of the game.
Kish had been her team’s best player all week – and named Top Goaltender for the tournament – and she stood tall with several big saves on the penalty kill.
Unlike the other five teams here, the Gold Wings came to Stoney Creek as bit of an unknown entity. The Thunder was looking to win its first Esso Cup in six tries. The Sabres wanted to prove they belonged at nationals as competitors, not just hosts. Even the Moncton Rockets (chasing Atlantic’s first medal), Fraser Valley Phantom (last year’s host) and Sudbury Lady Wolves (shortest layoff; lots of momentum) had storylines to follow at the beginning of the week.
What we did know was the Gold Wings were coming in on a roll. With eight games left in its regular season, the team sat at 10-6-1-3. Since then they’d gone 24-4.
It was the last team anyone should want to face.
“I think we realized what we needed to do to win,” said Wilson.
“We believed in each other,” said Kish. “We told ourselves we have an opportunity to be national champions.”