The St. Albert Slash are moving on to the north division final after polishing off the Lloydminster Steelers in the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League playoffs.
The Slash swept the best-of-five affair with Friday’s 2-1 overtime win at Servus Credit Union Place as Tegan Rose scored the series-clinching goal halfway through the extra period. The Steelers were caught on a delayed offside when Rose picked up the puck and went for a skate before firing the puck and getting a deflection off a defender’s stick past Jillian Diachuk in the Lloydminster net.
Head coach Terry Sydor said the game was tight all the way through and could have gone either way with how the goaltenders were playing, especially with Lloydminster’s aggressive forecheck.
“They pressured us pretty hard. It was do or die for them. They were pinching all the time in our end and had us bottled in,” he said.
Eliza Snider scored in period two, stepping down from the point and roofing a pass from behind the net by Karly Heffernan.
Brook Fouracres replied for the Steelers in the third.
“It was a tight game. We tried to keep the pressure on them and get the next goal, but a turnover at the blue line gave them a breakaway and they scored,” Sydor said. “We didn’t have a strong game out of the players that we usually count on and that tend to score. [Jessica] Kampjes and [Melissa] Kueber were not their usual dominant selves.”
In the third period, hearts were pumping on the bench as Rose and Heffernan were both sent to the box for crosschecking within 30 seconds of each other. After making the kill, the momentum shifted back in the Slash’s favour.
“That was the turning point of the game that we killed that off,” Sydor said. “Other than the turnover, we played a good game.”
Tyler Lisitza turned aside 37 shots for the Slash.
“Tyler played great for us throughout the game,” Sydor said.
After Diachuk was lit up for four goals on 17 shots in game one, a 9-2 rout in the Border City, she rebounded with 31 saves in game three.
“Emotions seemed to get the better of [Diachuk in game three]. You could see she got a bit frustrated,” Sydor said.
The Slash will now face the Edmonton Thunder in the best-of-five north final. Dates and times were unavailable at press time.
The Slash were outscored by the Thunder 13-3 in four losses in the season series, including two by shutouts, but when it counted in the semifinal of the Mac’s tournament at Calgary, the Slash prevailed 5-2.
“We have to make sure we don’t get off our game plan. The sweeps [against the Steelers and the best-of-three opening round against Spruce Grove] have been good for our confidence and that win at the Mac’s was huge. They’re mortal, now. We know we can beat them,” Sydor said. “Everything was going for us in the Mac’s and despite the scores in the regular season they were close games and we just had mental lapses.”
In the north standings, the third-place Slash (13-11-8) finished 14 points behind the division-leading Thunder (22-6-4).
“They’re a well-prepared team and well coached. Their defence is very strong and up front they’re more of a cycle team,” Sydor said. “We feel their goalie’s [Morgan Glover] performance is more a reflection of their team rather than outstanding individual play. She’s very good, but she’s beatable.”
ICE CHIPS: After sweeping the second-place Steelers (15-10-7), Kueber led all playoff scorers with 13 points on five goals and eight assists. Kampjes was tied for third in playoff points with 11 and was tops in goals with seven. Krystal Reithmayer and Taryn McCormick had nine points apiece.
Bantam AAA call-up Jessica Dyck stepped in for the injured Haley Kuzyk, who was out with an upper body injury. Sydor said that Dyck played well, but with the bantam squad in the midst of their own playoff run and the defender already having played four games with the Slash, they can only bring her up once more until the bantam team is eliminated or victorious.