SABRES EDGE AS IN ESSO CUP THRILLER
SUDBURY, Ont. – Alyssa Kawa scored two goals and Kayla McDougall made 34 saves to lift the Stoney Creek Sabres to a narrow 3-2 victory over the As de Québec on Wednesday afternoon at the 2019 Esso Cup.
Kawa scored the game-winning goal at 8:17 of the third period and then ceded the spotlight to McDougall, who had to step up and make over a dozen saves – at least five of ten-bell quality – in the last 10 minutes to emerge victorious in a white-knuckle on-ice battle.
Vanessa Upson scored the other goal for the Sabres, and rearguard Sarah Davidge put up two assists.
Québec was led by Jade Picard with a goal and an assist, and Noémie Vermette scored once.
Sophie Sabourin made 20 saves in defeat.
Period one was back and forth as Québec registered five of the first seven shots, and the Sabres responded by going on a 6-2 run. The scoreless first period ended with Stoney Creek outshooting the As 8-7.
The Sabres broke through for two goals early in the second; Upson completed a perfect in-tight deflection at 5:23 on the power play and Kawa toe-dragged a defender to create the real estate to unleash a pretty snipe from the slot.
Québec ratcheted up its aggressiveness in response to the deficit and generated a few odd-man attempts, but McDougall denied them all. The As outshot Stoney Creek 11-8 in the second.
The As finally broke through offensively just shy of the eight-minute mark of the third period when Vermette stabbed the puck past McDougall’s pads during a four-on-four sequence.
Quickly though, Quebec dealt a blow to its own comeback bid by coughing up the puck to give Stoney Creek a 2-on-0 rush – an opportunity that Kawa took full advantage of with a top-shelf shot less than 40 seconds after Vermette’s deficit-cutter.
The As pushed back and made the game 3-2 with 7:40 remaining when Picard beat McDougall in tight to set up the thrill-ride of a finale.
The Sabres have an inside track to a playoff berth and can clinch by beating the St. Albert Slash on Thursday (12 p.m. ET). Québec must beat the Sudbury Lady Wolves in 60 minutes in the prelim finale (7 p.m. ET) if it hopes to play on the weekend.