Looking at the ebb and flow of their 2015-16 season, the Weyburn Gold Wings, this year’s Esso Cup hosts, would appear to be right where they need to be.
A 2-4 October gave way to a 7-0 November.
“We played some high-end teams at the start,” says head coach Chad Kish. “We were getting in better shape at the time and the girls were getting a little
more comfortable with being away from home for the first time. It makes a big difference.”
The players responded to a sub-.500 December by winning eight of their next 10, surrendering more than two goals only once.
“Our defence and goaltending are good,” says Kish. “If you can limit yourself to about a 1.50 to 1.70 goals-against as a team over the course of the season
you’re going to win a lot of games.”
Weyburn closed out the regular season with back-to-back losses before opening the playoffs versus the Regina Rebels, the only other Saskatchewan team to
host the Esso Cup. Despite being outshot 34-28, the Gold Wings emerged victorious in Game 1 by a score of 4-2. Regina scored first in the second game, but
Weyburn replied with five unanswered markers to take a stranglehold of the best-of-five quarter-final series.
Weyburn wrapped things up the following night. Behind a pair of goals from Bailee Bourassa and a single from Sarah Hornoi, the team built a 3-1 lead. But
Regina tied things up with two goals in the final eight minutes of regulation. With only 55 seconds remaining in overtime, Bourassa completed the hat trick
and sent her team to the semifinal.
Up next were the Saskatoon Stars, the defending league champions.
“We know that nothing is guaranteed [as Esso Cup host], which is a good learning lesson,” says Kish. “You have to be prepared every night. That second
round we went up to Saskatoon and it was a night that the team wasn’t prepared for.”
The Gold Wings gave up 45 shots and five goals in a shutout loss.
A different story was told in Game 2. Chantal Burke turned aside 43 shots and Bourassa scored 42 seconds into double overtime as the Gold Wings prevailed
An extra overtime was needed again in the next game. The Stars went up two goals in the first, but Bourassa scored two times less than two minutes apart in
the second. Saskatoon eventually scored four minutes into double overtime, then ended the series two nights later with a 2-0 win.
“To be successful at the Esso Cup you need to have secondary scoring,” says Kish. “I look back at our 2014 year [when the team won the national title] and
we had balanced scoring from Line 1 and Line 2, and Line 3 also got a couple in there. In the Saskatoon series we only had one line scoring. Saskatoon got
secondary scoring and that’s why they won the series.”
That semifinal loss happened on March 15. The Esso Cup begins on April 17.
The team has stayed sharp through an in-depth workout program and regular practices four to five times a week. It also faced off against the University of
Regina Cougars alumni and Radville Midget Nationals in a pair of exhibition games.
A long layoff, though, doesn’t bother faze Kish.
“I watched the 2005 [Weyburn] Red Wings lose out first round of the playoffs and they went and won the RBC Cup, so anything can happen.”
HOW THEY GOT TO WEYBURN
Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League
Quarter-final: defeated Regina 3-0 (4-2, 5-1, 4-3)
Semifinal: lost to Saskatoon 3-1 (0-5, 1-0 2OT, 2-3 2 OT, 0-2)
Record (W-L-OTW-OTL): 15-9-3-1 (4th in SFMAAAHL)
Goals For: 86 (3rd in SFMAAAHL)
Goals Against: 47 (T-2nd in SFMAAAHL)
Longest Winning Streak: 7 (Nov. 7-Nov. 29)
Top 3 Scorers:
Bailee Bourassa – 21G 9A 30P (T-5th in SFMAAAHL)
Elise Endicott – 18G 7A 25P (T-7th in SFMAAAHL)
Madison Solie – 4G 16A 20P (T-13th in SFMAAAHL)
Goals For: 16
Goals Against: 16
Top 3 Scorers:
Bailee Bourassa – 8G 2A 10P
Madison Solie – 1G 5A 6P
Jenna Grube – 1G 2A 3P
NATIONAL MIDGET CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
2014 – Weyburn Gold Wings | gold medal | 6-1-0 | 19GF 11GA
PLAYERS TO WATCH
brings big-game experience … consistent scorer … plays in all situations … good, quick shot … tremendous leadership skills
capable of carrying heavy workload … ability to win games on her own … solid puck-handling skills … good with the glove
strong power forward … consistently wins puck battles and gains possession down low … plays in all situations … good shot … makes life hard on opposing D