SATURDAY, APRIL 23
1. Kayla Bailey (Brantford)
Bailey had four points – two goals, two assists – in the gold medal game against the Express du Richelieu, a dominating 10-3 win for the Ice Cats. Both her goals came on rebounds, made possible by her positioning herself right where she needed to be. Her most outstanding effort, though, was her assist on Brooklyn Gemmill’s goal. She outraced her defender below the goal line and drove the puck around the net. Her wraparound attempt was stopped, but the attention she brought to herself left Gemmill alone in front for the rebound.
2. Taylor Trussler (Brantford)
It’s safe to say the big stage isn’t intimidating to Trussler. She had a goal and four assists in the2016 Esso Cup gold medal game. She’d shown flashes of, well, flash all week long, and on Saturday that was on display when she made some moves into the low slot and went high glove side. The rest of her playmaking ability was on full display as well, especially when picking up her first point. Her speed down the wing set up Nicole Kelly to tie the game after the Express look the lead less than three minutes in.
3. Breanne Trotter (Rocky Mountain)
Trotter had a goal and an assist in the Raiders 3-0 win over the Saskatoon Stars in the bronze medal game. With her team leading 1-0 and the Stars continually in press mode, Trotter gave the Raiders some breathing room late in the second period. She pounced on a loose puck in the slot, took a few strides toward the net and finished glove side. With less than a minutes left in the game, she fed Hailey McCallum cross ice to seal the win.
FRIDAY, APRIL 22
1. Éloïse Dubé (Richelieu)
Dubé was everywhere on the ice – and on the scoreboard – in a semifinal shootout win over the Rocky Mountain Raiders. The forward assisted on all three Express goals and, for the second game in a row, scored in the shootout after the opposition missed to put her team in the driver’s seat. Her second assist, on Camille Fleury’s goal that made it 2-1 for the Express, best showcased just some of her skills: her checking created a turnover deep in the offensive zone and her vision allowed her to spot an open Fleury waiting on the point.
2. Paige Rynne (Brantford)
The Ice Cats captain was a force in front of the net all game against the Saskatoon Stars. She had three assists; the Stars simply could not handle her strength. She helped set up Paige Cohoon’s goal to make it 2-0, first with her stick work, then with a screen. Her hard work down low opened up space for Lauren Martin to score from the side of the net to make it 3-0. And she was back on the ice less than two minutes later helping set up Brooklyn Gemmell to make it 4-0. And that was just the second period.
3. Joannie Garand (Richelieu)
The Express forward had her own unique hat trick in the team’s shootout win over the Rocky Mountain Raiders: a goal, an assist and a shootout goal. She set up Floriane Dion with a perfect cross-ice pass to the doorstep to get her team on the board only 2:39 into the game. Her quick thinking allowed her to pounce on a puck in the low slot to put her team up 3-1 in the third. And with a spot in the gold medal game on the line, she went high stick side in the shootout to ensure Richelieu would be there on Saturday.
THURSDAY, APRIL 21
1. Marithé Lévesque (Richelieu)
The Express goaltender wasn’t even supposed to play today. But when her team went down 4-1 with four minutes remaining in the second period, she was summoned from the bench. All she did was proceed to steal the show – and the game back from the Brantford Ice Cats. Lévesque stopped all 20 shots she saw in nearly 29 minutes played through the end of regulation and overtime, then two more in the shootout. By helping get the team to overtime, Lévesque secured the Express a spot in the semifinals. (And, she won the game, 5-4, too.)
2. Grace Shirley (Saskatoon)
The sister of Sophie Shirley – a member of Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team and the MVP of the 2015 Esso Cup – is making her own name in Weyburn. With the Express du Richelieu’s win earlier in the day, the Stars knew they needed a point in their game against Metro Boston Pizza to play on in the medal round. Semifinal spot on the line, game tied, Shirley delivered. The forward carried the puck from the side boards to the centre ice just inside the blue line. Her shot found its way through traffic and into the back corner of the net.
3. Madison Solie and Jenna Grube (Saskatoon)
In the final game of the Midget AAA careers, the defenceman and the forward delivered for their home fans. In a shootout against the Rocky Mountain Raiders, Solie charged down centre ice, danced a little stutter step and picked the top corner. Next up, Grube, glided down centre ice, her hesitation causing goaltender Erin Fargey to do so as well, and pushed a puck just enough to go five-hole into the back of the net. It was goodbye to the Gold Wings, but it was a good way to go.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20
1. Nicolette Seper (Rocky Mountain)
The Raiders captain scored two goals in a 3-2 win over the Express. In the second period, only 19 seconds after Richelieu tied the game, Seper outworked her defender toward the net, then poked the puck five-hole on goaltender Carolanne Franc-Brown. With the game tied in the third period, Seper intercepted an Express pass near the Richelieu blue line, broke in cross ice and beat Franc-Brown again, this time blocker side. The win booked the Raiders a ticket in the medal round.
2. Taylor Trussler (Brantford)
Trussler may be small but she’s been hard to miss so far at the 2016 Esso Cup. Her speed and shiftiness have had defenders chasing her all week. Against the Saskatoon Stars, the Ice Cats trailed by two 14 minutes into the game. Trussler helped set up Nicole Kelly for her tournament-leading sixth goal to cue the comeback. The score tied 2-2 late in the second period, Trussler tipped in Emily Rickwood’s point shot for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
3. Sarah Hornoi (Weyburn)
All week the fans in Weyburn have been vocal in their support of the Gold Wings. But three loses in the first three days, plus other teams’ results from earlier Wednesday, meant the team wouldn’t be playing in the medal round. After letting a two-goal lead slip away, Hornoi gave the home fans reason to cheer. With 1:24 left in overtime, she fought down low to create a turnover, then got just enough of the puck to slide in the winning goal against Metro Boston Pizza.
TUESDAY, APRIL 19
1. Joannie Garand (Richelieu)
The Express forward has competed with a never-quit work ethic the entire tournament, and in Tuesday’s game against the Weyburn Gold Wings that showed itself with a three-point performance – one goal, two assists – in her team’s come-from-behind win. She set up the tying and go-ahead goals in the second period. With her team leading by one in the third, she iced the game by winning a tough battle along the boards and then roofing the insurance goal from the bottom of the face-off circle.
2. Paige Cohoon (Brantford)
Cohoon plays hard-nosed hockey and is solid on the blue line for the Ice Cats. In the team’s win over Metro Boston Pizza, she also showed some offensive skills, picking up two assists. With time expiring on a first period power play, Cohoon’s point shot led to teammate Brooklyn Gemmill giving Brantford the lead. In the third, Cohoon continued to play valuable minutes at the point and helped set up Nicole Kelly for the team’s third goal in a 4-0 win.
3. Kennedy Brown (Rocky Mountain)
It was a team-inspired performance that drove the Raiders past the Stars on Tuesday afternoon, but Brown played a key role in the two goals in 2:47 that quickly turned the game in Rocky Mountain’s favour in the first period. She made her presence felt down low in helping set up the first goal. And it was her deft touch in redirecting Kara Kondrat’s pass to Kennedy Moore that led to what proved to be the game-winning goal in a 3-1 win.
MONDAY, APRIL 18
1. Nicole Kelly (Brantford)
With her team down two goals by early in the second period, Kelly put the Ice Cats on her back. First she assisted on Kayla Bailey’s goal to get the deficit down to one. Then she pulled Brantford even midway through the second with an outstanding individual effort that saw her twice outwork the defence. Another strong solo effort early in the third – this time off a face-off – gave the Ice Cats the lead. Late in the third, she persisted on a rebound in front for the natural hat trick.
2. Anna Leschyshyn (Saskatoon)
The Stars power forward made her presence felt all afternoon against the Express du Richelieu. Only 16 seconds into the second period, Leschyshyn outmuscled a crowded crease to put her team up. Then with six minutes left in regulation and the things tied again she gave her team the lead for good when she walked out of the corner and fired from the face-off circle for her second of the game. The daughter of former NHLer Curtis Leschyshyn is quickly making her own name at the 2016 Esso Cup.
3. Madison Solie (Weyburn)
Solie has been a rock on defence for the Gold Wings for three seasons and tonight was another example why. With captain and leading scorer Bailee Bourassa lost early in the game to injury, Solie cranked up shutdown mode. She also stepped up her game on offence, sending a perfect outlet pass off the boards to forward Jensen Grube that gave the team an early 2-0 lead in a game they would eventually drop 4-2.
SUNDAY, APRIL 17
1. Hailey McCallum (Rocky Mountain)
The Raiders’ forward was the offensive star on opening day. She scored both her team’s goals in a 2-1 win over the Brantford Ice Cats. On her first, she showed her patience. A friendly bounce off the end bounds gave her the puck alone in front of the net, where she calmly slid it low far side. Only 2:10 after that, she showed her quickness, first moving unmarked into the face-off circle, then letting go a wrist shot short side.
2. Emma Johnson (Saskatoon)
Johnson wasn’t called upon often in the Stars’ net in the team’s 2-0 win over the Weyburn Gold Wings, but when she was, she was stellar. Two turnovers in the opening five minutes left Johnson to face a Gold Wing alone, and both times she returned play up the ice. In the second period, the game still deadlocked 0-0, she robbed Weyburn captain Bailee Bourassa on a shorthanded scoring chance with a sprawling save with her glove. Johnson finished with 20 saves.
3. Josee Thibeau (Metro)
Metro’s goaltender stood tall as the Express du Richelieu fired 42 shots her way. Only one puck, amid a sea of bodies just beyond her crease, found its way past Thibeau. With Metro outshot more than two to one, Thibeau repeatedly held ground for the Halifax-based team with an array of saves: she turned aside one-timers with her blocker, lone Express forwards with her pads and sharp-shooters with her glove.