ashten sinclair

Host Gold Wings ready for road back to Esso Cup

Weyburn enters Saskatchewan playoffs as fourth seed

Wendy Graves
February 24, 2016

The 2015-16 Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League regular season is in the books, and as the Weyburn Gold Wings see it, an uphill battle awaits if they are to win their second Fedoruk Cup in three seasons.

It’s a fact: since the SFMAAAHL’s inception in 2006-2007, the provincial championship has been won by only one of the top two seeded teams entering the playoffs.

The Gold Wings, the 2014 Esso Cup champions and 2016 Esso Cup hosts, went 15-9-3-1 this year, good for fourth place in the eight-team league.

“It was a learning year in terms of understanding what the pressure is [as Esso Cup host],” says Chad Kish, the head coach of the Gold Wings. “I now understand what [2014 host] Stoney Creek went through. When you’re not expected to win, it’s easier.”

The team has a chance to set a trio of firsts this spring:

*first Esso Cup host to win its region during provincial playoffs

*first Esso Cup host to win Canada’s National Female Midget Championship

*first team to become a two-time Esso Cup champion

Weyburn will open its provincial playoffs with a best-of-five series against the Regina Rebels. The Gold Wings won the season series 3-1.

If the higher seeds win all four quarter-final series, Weyburn would play the Saskatoon Stars in the semifinals; the Gold Wings went 1-3 against the defending provincial champions and 2015 Esso Cup bronze medallists.

Looking further down the road, it’s likely either the second-seeded Swift Current Wildcats, led by Jasey Book, the league’s top goaltender, or the third-place Prince Albert Bears would await in the finals. The Gold Wings and Bears have taken turns eliminating each other from the playoffs the last three years.

“It’s a new season,” says Kish. For now, that means only the Rebels matter. “We would love to go right through to the finals. I said from the start of the year, we want to earn our way in to the Esso Cup.”

The Gold Wings had an uneven start to their season, going 2-4, including three shutout losses, in the opening month. But the calendar flipping from October to November seemed to flip something in the team as well, which rebounded to go 7-0, claiming all 21 points available to them.

“We played some high-end teams at the start,” says 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.” The Gold Wings have only two players who call Weyburn their hometown; the rest of the roster has been billeting with local families since Sept. 1.

A quiet December saw the team go 1-2. A sub-500 month was again followed by a strong seven-game stretch. The Gold Wings bounced back to go 5-2 in January, surrendering only four goals in their quintet of wins, and finished off February’s five-game set with a 3-2 record.

Offensively, the team was led by its captain, Bailee Bourassa. The forward scored a league-high 21 goals and finished fifth in scoring with 30 points. Bourassa and Elise Endicott (18 goals, seven assists) shared the league lead in game-winning goals, with six each.

Madison Solie, who with Bourassa missed two games this season while playing for Saskatchewan at the 2015 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, finished tied for first in scoring among defenceman with 20 points.

Chantal Burke played the most minutes of any goaltender in the league and posted the third-best goals-against average (1.58). Rookie Shakara Chutskoff went 4-1 with a 1.80 goals-against average before being sidelined early in the season with an injury.

The Gold Wings have won at least one round in the playoffs every year since 2010-11. To keep that streak alive, the team will rely on the strengths that have been the backbone of the program for years.

“Our defence and goaltending are good,” says Kish. “Our goals-against average is right where it has always been. Defence and goaltending win you championships, and I know that for a fact.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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