STARS EDGE SLASH IN ESSO CUP REMATCH
SUDBURY, Ont. – Halle Helperl lit the lamp with 5:28 remaining in the third period to lift the Saskatoon Stars to a 3-2 victory over the St. Albert Slash on Tuesday at the 2019 Esso Cup.
It was the first meeting between the teams since the Slash edged the Stars 2-1 to win their second-consecutive gold medal at Canada’s National Female Midget Championship last spring.
Helperl managed to stab the puck across the goal-line after St. Albert goaltender Brianna Sank made a couple of great saves in a chaotic jumble in front of her crease.
Sank and Saskatoon counterpart Arden Kliewer played a starring role; Kliewer snuffed out 23 of 25 shots, while Sank had the answer for 25 Stars attempts.
Chace Sperling and Kaitlin Jockims scored power-play goals for the Stars, and Anna Leschyshyn chipped in two assists.
Jenna Goodwin and Alexis Butz responded with goals for the two-time defending champions.
The familiar foes staged a first period that resembled the tight-checking hockey that defined their championship bout a year ago. The Stars and the Slash, for the most part, refused to give each other much daylight at five-on-five.
Saskatoon broke the scoreless deadlock near the midway point of the first period by taking full advantage of a two-minute 5-on-3 power play. Sperling tipped in Leschyshyn’s wrist shot from the point at 8:50, and Jockims snapped in a shot from the slot 39 seconds later after receiving a nifty cross-ice pass from Leschyshyn.
St. Albert responded with two goals of its own in the middle frame. Goodwin cut the deficit in half by tapping in a backdoor pass from Madison Willan at 6:10, and Butz capitalized on a rebound from a Tianna Yaremko snapshot to equalize the confrontation just under seven minutes remaining in the period.
Before the frenzy of chances in the last half of the third period, chances were very hard to come by as the two teams could only muster a total of four shots in the first eight minutes.
Saskatoon will next face the host Sudbury Lady Wolves on Wednesday night (7 p.m. ET). St. Albert will compete next against the Halifax Fire (12 p.m. ET).