The Lloydminster Wizard Well Service peewee Blazers, with back row from left, Gracie Leyen, Gabby Dopko, Lara McEachern, Lexa Thiessen, Paige Burrows, Kenlee Hines, Aubrie Selte, Rayna Franklin, Hailey Kadun, Jenna Shiach; front row, Kayla Hamilton, Presley Daschuk and Molly Kirkpatrick, captured the East Central Alberta Female Hockey League championship at the Centennial Civic Centre on Saturday. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
The Lloydminster Wizard Well Service peewee Blazers are the East Central Alberta Female Hockey League (ECAFHL) champions.
The Blazers battled back from a two-goal deficit to beat the Cold Lake Lakeland Jaguars 3-2 in the second match of the three-game ECAFHL championship series at the Centennial Civic Centre on Saturday.
The Border City girls opened the series with a 3-1 win against the Jaguars at Cold Lake the previous evening.
“We played really good,” said Blazers goaltender Presley Daschuk.
“We weren’t so good in the first period (on Saturday), but we really pulled it off in the last two.”
The Blazers and Jaguars pressed back and forth for the opening marker through the first few minutes of the final contest. Blazers right wing Kayla Hamilton notched the best opportunity to open the scoring five minutes in when she carried the puck out front from the corner and slid it through the Jaguars’ crease.
Jaguars forward Hannah Thorne found the back of the net 3:18 into the middle frame on a wire from the point through traffic, and Faith Donovan made it 2-0 just over a minute later by driving down the wing for a shot that beat Daschuk far side. The Blazers coaching staff called a timeout following the goal with the team responding in short order.
“After the second one we realized we weren’t going,” said Blazers centre Rayna Franklin. “So, then we started getting back to our own style.”
Franklin brought her team to within one courtesy of a blast from the blue line with 11:37 remaining in the second period. The Blazers assistant captain fired in a centering feed from Kenlee Hines to tie the game late in the frame.
“To be honest, when they scored those two goals I had no confidence after that,” said Daschuk. “But, as soon as we scored one my confidence came back and I just knew that I had to not let any goals in.”
Blazers left wing Gabby Dopko and Hamilton had a couple of quality chances to complete the comeback early in the third period, but it ended up being Hines who would take the honours. The Blazers captain stole the puck in the neutral zone, wheeled around a couple of Jaguars defenders and wired a shot from just inside the blue line that beat Jaguars netminder Kelsey Owen-Usher top shelf at the 6:13 mark.
The Jaguars applied pressure in the remaining 14 minutes only to be battled back by the tight Blazers defence. Two key faceoffs late in the Blazers zone with the Jaguars goalie pulled provided for Lakeland’s best opportunity to gain an advantage, but a couple of Franklin wins in the dot negated the chances.
“This means a lot,” said Hines. “At the start we weren’t expecting to win at all, so league championship gold means a lot to us.”