ST. ALBERT SLASH WIN ALBERTA’S FIRST ESSO CUP
MORDEN, Man. – The only game of the entire 2017 Esso Cup to go to overtime was the last one. But Tyra Meropoulis made sure it didn’t go any further, scoring at the 14:41 mark of the extra frame for a 1-0 win over the Harfangs du Triolet, making the St. Albert Slash national champions on Saturday night.
The gold medal game was closely contested from start to finish. St. Albert came out with all the offense early, holding the Harfangs to just three shots in the first period. As the game wore on, Triolet started to turn the table and put the pressure back on the Slash.
Midway through the third, on a Harfangs power play, Slash goaltender Camryn Drever was forced to make a reactionary kick save off a point shot that deflected just in front of her. A few minutes later, Triolet’s top scorers Megan Bureau-Gagnon, Zoé Thibault and Chloé Gendreau were lined up three across off the rush. Thibault dropped to Gendreau who immediately sent it to Bureau-Gagnon, but Drever followed the whole play and made the save.
“We all knew we could do it and from day one we were talking about winning and there was no doubt, we just all believed,” Drever said of her team’s no-quit attitude during a draining 75-minute game.
With just 20 seconds to go in the second period, Meropoulis was alone in front and ripped a shot on Triolet goaltender Michelle Thibault. The shot hit her mask and stayed out. Then in the third, Slash defenceman Ashley Nothof crept down to the dot and whipped a one-timer in on Thibault, but the goalie flew across her net to make the save.
The teams continued to trade chances into overtime, until Slash forward Madison Willan blocked a point shot and beat the Harfangs to the puck. As she cut across the neutral zone, Meropoulis caught up to her linemate. Willan dropped for Meropoulis as they crossed the offensive blue-line, then then went hard to the net and sent the puck past Thibault high, short side.
“It’s unbelievable, I’ve never been through this excitement in my life so it’s awesome,” said Meropoulis.
One of the most important plays of the night though, may have been that of Slash head coach Dan Auchenberg, who noticed his top line was getting tired so gave them an extra shift off during the overtime.
“All of a sudden they got the chance and [Meropoulis] had a little extra speed to go around and what a shot, it was unbelievable,” said Auchenberg, who was still marvelling at the goal well after the celebrations had died down.
The Slash are the first team from Alberta to win Canada's National Female Midget Championship, while it is the second year in a row a team from Quebec has taken home the silver medal.
The Slash are also the first team in Esso Cup history to finish the championship a perfect 7-0.