One year after falling one goal agonizingly short in a shootout at the Atlantic Regionals, Metro Boston Pizza is back at the Esso Cup. This marks the
team’s third appearance at Canada’s National Female Midget Championship, but first since 2013.
After a six-year run as regular season champions of the Nova Scotia Female Midget AAA Hockey League, Metro finished second in 2015-16, two points behind
the East Hants Penguins. An end-of-season swoon that saw the team play .500-level hockey over its final 10 games hurt in the standings, but not in the
overall picture, says J-R Letourneau, Metro’s head coach.
Having a team to battle neck and neck with over the season only helps. “That’s what prepares you the best,” he says. “If you have a dominating team in the
league, then it doesn’t prepare you for that better competition.”
After a tight four-game semifinal series versus the Northern Selects, Metro met East Hants in the provincial championship. Metro won the opener before
dropping the next two.
“We work really hard all season on what I call the 3 E’s of hockey – effort, execution and emotion,” says Letourneau. “Our team has worked really hard to
stay in the moment and manage emotional stress, or distress, so when [the other team] scores, it’s part of the game. Things are going to happen. We
maintained our composure and fought through it.”
Metro evened the series with a 3-1 win. The next day in the decider, East Hants took a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. But goals 37 seconds apart by Jessica
O’Malley and Kira Memet in the second period gave Metro a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The team scored two more times in the third to win the game 4-1.
From there it was on to Atlantics, where unfinished business awaited. A year earlier Metro lost the championship game to the Moncton Rockets.
Motivation for the 2015-16 season came from that end-of-year loss, and the four-day tournament was a chance at redemption. “We had a bitter taste in our
mouth, losing in a shootout in a national berth tournament,” says Letourneau.
The team swept through the round robin undefeated, winning three of its four games via shutout, including a 9-0 demolishing of the Rockets. The next day
the two sides met again.
“We talked about that 9-0 and really it didn’t mean anything in the big scheme of things,” says Letourneau. “We couldn’t sit on our laurels and say ‘9-0,’
and the proof was in the championship game.
The game was more than half over before Jenna Pellerin, the most valuable player of the tournament, scored. Shannen Grandy and O’Malley added goals before
the third period was halfway over, then Pellerin netted her second of the game with about six minutes to play. Make the final 4-0, and four shutouts in
five games for Metro.
The Atlantic Region is still seeking its first medal at the Esso Cup; its best finish was Metro’s fourth-place result in 2012.
“We’re embarking into this national championship with our eyes wide open,” says Letourneau. “I think going to Drummondville [for a showcase tournament]
showed us what level of competition to expect outside of Atlantic Canada because our team pool is much smaller than anywhere else. I don’t anticipate we’re
going to win games by three or four goals, but we can steal games. Really our goal is to play hockey on Saturday.”
HOW THEY GOT TO WEYBURN
Nova Scotia Female Midget AAA Hockey League
Semifinal: defeated Northern 3-1 (3-2 OT, 3-0, 0-2, 3-2)
NSFMAAAHL championship: defeated East Hants 3-2 (3-0, 1-2, 1-3, 3-1, 4-1)
Round robin: first place – 4-0 (defeated Western 3-0, defeated Central 3-0, defeated Kings County 2-1 SO, defeated Moncton 9-0)
Championship: defeated Moncton 4-0
Record: 15-6-3 (2nd in NSFMAAAHL)
Goals For: 63 (2nd in NSFMAAAHL)
Goals Against: 25 (1st NSFMAAAHL)
Longest Winning Streak: 7 (Nov. 21-Dec. 13)
Top 3 Scorers:
Kira Memet – 12G 10A 22P (2nd in NSFMAAAHL)
Jenna Pellerin – 8G 10A 18P (6th in NSFMAAAHL)
Shannen Grandy – 7G 5A 12P (T-8th in NSFMAAAHL)
Goals For: 41
Goals Against: 14
Top 3 Scorers:
Jessica O’Malley – 8G 9A 17P
Kira Memet – 6G 10A 16P
Jenna Pellerin – 9G 1A 10P
NATIONAL MIDGET CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
2013 – Metro Boston Pizza | sixth place | 0-5 | 4GF 20GA
2012 – Metro Boston Pizza | fourth place | 2-4 | 15GF 18GA
PLAYERS TO WATCH
dynamic player … great hands … incredible scoring touch … tough to beat along the boards and in the corners … dangerous in the offensive zone … offensive
threat every time on the ice
tons of speed all over the ice … two-way player … ability to turn any play into a scoring opportunity … brings big-game experience
tremendous athleticism … competes on every puck and every play … poised, calm and confident in net … plays bigger than her size