STARS USE BIG SECOND PERIOD TO BOOK SPOT IN ESSO CUP FINAL
JASON LA ROSE
BRIDGEWATER, N.S. – Grace Shirley and Mackenna Parker did the damage in a four-goal second period, scoring two goals each to send the Saskatoon Stars to the gold medal game at the 2018 Esso Cup with a 5-1 semifinal win over the Pionnières de Lanaudière on Friday afternoon.
The Stars will face either the St. Albert Slash or Brampton Canadettes in the final on Saturday night (7 p.m. AT, TSN 1/3/5), in search of their first-ever national title.
Saskatoon outscored its opponents 23-3 during a dominant run through the prelims, but it was the Pionnières who found the scoreboard first; Maya Labad raced down the right wing and beat Arden Kliewer just inside the far post for the 1-0 goal at 2:38.
Kliewer turned away Labad just minutes later on a point-blank opportunity, and combined with Lanaudière goaltender Leila Lotke for 17 saves in the opening period.
Down after 20 minutes for the first time in the tournament, Saskatoon needed just 84 seconds of the second period to tie the game; Shirley forced a turnover on the forecheck and did a lap of the offensive zone before beating Lotke.
She added her second just past the 12-minute mark, finishing a two-on-one with Jordyn Holmes, and Parker – named tournament MVP earlier in the day – crashed the net and chipped in an insurance marker only 22 seconds after that.
Parker capped the offensive onslaught at 15:08, taking a nice pass from Kaitlin Jockims and wiring a shot upstairs on Lotke. That was all for the Lanaudière netminder, who gave way to Sarah Vanier – the Top Goaltender in the tournament – after allowing four goals on 20 shots.
Abby DeCorby added one more goal in the third period, chipping a rebound over Vanier on a Saskatoon power play.
The Pionnières will take on the loser of the Brampton-St. Albert semifinal in the bronze medal game on Saturday afternoon (2 p.m. AT).