The Midwest Hawks, with back row from left, trainer Rita Klinger, Jaylee Klinger, Marleigh Mann, asst. coach Tobey Pratte, Austyn Eaton, Caybri DeJong, Ashtyn LeClare, Peyton Pero, Abby Hickman, head coach Merv Mann; front row, Kali Allen, Larissa Lindsay, Shaye Thompson, Izzy Pratte and Tori Rutherford, missing is manager Cori Eaton, bested the Mainline Shooting Stars 2-1 in the final game of the North Saskatchewan Female Hockey League best-of-three championship series to take home the banner. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Great goaltending, a strong defence and a bit of post-tournament momentum carried the Midwest peewee Hawks to a North Saskatchewan Female Hockey League (NSFHL) championship last week.
The Hawks beat the powerhouse Mainline Shooting Stars 2-1 in the final game of the NSFHL best-of-three championship series at the Dodsland Skating Rink last Tuesday.
The Hillmond, Lashburn, Neilburg and Paradise Hill girls bested the Stars 3-2 in overtime in the first game of the series on March 20 only to drop the second contest 3-0 at the Hillmond Redden Arena two days later.
Merv Mann, head coach of the Hawks, said the girls were excited to play that second game at home, but the team didn’t seem to come out as loose and free as usual with the championship banner in the rink.
He said they travelled to Saskatoon for the March Ice Tournament after the game and won a championship there with a 3-1 finals win against the rival Turtleford Tigers instead of just sitting at home and stewing about the defeat.
“If we knew we were going to be this busy, and we had some girls playing provincial hockey as well, we probably wouldn’t have entered the tournament,” said Mann.
“It was too busy for them, but they never used any excuse from it. They just went, had fun, played well and the result was winning the tournament and coming back not uptight about (the second-game loss) or sitting or thinking about it through the weekend. They just played their hearts out and had success again.”
Mann said the Shooting Stars, which went 15-0-1 during the NSFHL regular season, were viewed as the team to beat at the start of the year, but the progression his girls made over the course of the past five months helped close the gap.
He said bounces going their way in the final contest coupled with the stellar play between the pipes exhibited by goalie Shaye Thompson and the team’s overall commitment to defence then got the Hawks a championship win.
“For most all of the girls, this was their first season of just (playing on) a girls’ team in a girls’ league,” he said.
“So, I think the real development was they went from just being energy and role players to the girls who actually scored the big goals, made the big plays and had the puck on their stick. I’m really happy with how far they’ve progressed in that range. They did really well.”