Wildcats take four points from Rebels
The Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats earned four of a possible six points against the visiting Regina Rebels in Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League action over the weekend.
Saturday, the Wildcats lost 4-3 in a shootout after fighting their way back from a 3-1 deficit.
The Wildcats trailed 2-1 after one period when Regina got goals from MacKenzie Kuffner and Chelsea Perepeluk and Brooklyn Haubrich replied for the Wildcats.
Kelsey Davies stretched the Rebels' lead to 3-1 midway through the period before Merissa Zerr replied for Swift Current on the powerplay as the Wildcats finished one-for-two on the man-advantage and held Regina without a goal on three powerplay opportunities.
Kayla Kirwan tied the game up 3-3 3:56 into the third period to force overtime. Regina outshot the Wildcats 4-1 in overtime but neither team was able to score in the five-minute extra period.
Dayna Winzer, Chloe Smith, and Haubrich were all stopped in the shootout, the Wildcats' first trip to overtime or the shootout this season. Kelsey Davies scored the only goal of the shootout to clinch the extra point for the visitors.
Tatum Shand earned the win for Regina with 24 saves on 27 shots before stopping all three attempts in the shootout. Jasey Book took the shootout loss with 21 saves on 24 shots.
Keely Chalk, Kirwan, Jessica Pele, and Zerr all added assists for the Wildcats.
Sunday, the Wildcats had an improved defensive effort in a 3-1 win. The game could have went either way during the opening 34 minutes as both teams battled for the edge. The Rebels thought they had scored on a long shot that rang off the iron with six minutes left in the second period but the officials ruled that it was not a goal.
Moments later, Wildcats' defenseman Gabrielle Gray sent her own seeingeye point shot off the iron and in with a delayed penalty upcoming. Tori Kendall made it 2-0 only 1:15 later when her looping backhand from the high slot found the back of the net.
The Wildcats held the Rebels to only two shots in the third period but Delaney Frey tipped home a goal with 4:06 left in regulation to cut the Wildcat's lead to 2-1.
Forward Keely Chalk quickly restored the twogoal lead only 28 seconds later when she tapped home a puck that found her surprisingly open in the slot during a tight-checking contest.
Kendall, Zerr, Haubrich, Karlie Bell, and Smith all picked up assists and Book got the win with 12 saves on 13 shots.
"Yeah that is definitely what we want," said head coach Terry Pavely of Sunday's defensive performance. "We weren't real happy, even though we got a point last night, which was a positive, we weren't real happy with our first period. We gave up way too many scoring chances in the first period. We weren't doing a good job of tying up sticks in front of the net. The video that we showed before the game today just reinforced what we had said as coaches. Today, give our girls credit, we showed the video and we were exceptional in that regard today. They are a team that has some offensive kids and they like to sneak in behind you in the slot. We did a very good job of taking that away and not giving them those opportunities today."
"We all worked really hard and were going to the net and the D were definitely shooting and we were all driving," said Kendall after the win.
She was happy with the team's defensive effort to hold the Rebels to only 13 shots on goal.
"Our D were definitely getting it off the glass real well. Our wingers were driving to get that puck through the D and our centres were going through the middle to get the puck."
The Wildcats only allowed two shots on goal in the third period as they locked down the win Sunday.
"That's the way we want to play," said Pavely." If you look at the last two years and even the start of this year, we are a good defensive team. I think we have gotten away from that a little bit. For us to be successful, there is two things. We have to score three goals, that is kind of the magic number for us. But when we play that way defensively, especially when you have Booker in net, you are not going to give up goals.
"I was just really happy that we stepped up defensively. When we play like that we have a lot of opportunities to win hockey games," he added.
The Wildcats scored both second-period goals by throwing pucks on goal with traffic in front.
"Yeah and that is how we scored last night. Our goal in the first period, Haubrich got the goal inside the blue line and threw it to the net. When we crash the net we have some good size up front. You get in front of the net and it makes it difficult for goaltenders," noted Pavely.
"I felt that today was what makes us successful. We are not going to wow you with two kids that can just score almost at will. We need to score almost by committee and we need to score by getting to the tough areas," he added.
The Wildcats were short on the blueline due to injury so they played with only four defensemen on Saturday and Pavely said the team moved the puck well in their own end and made quality first passes.
"We felt that going four D last night was going to be a lot to ask to go four D tonight," he said.
They switched captain Brooklyn Haubrich back to defense for Sunday's game and the move paid off. Haubrich finished the week tied for fourth in league scoring with 15 points in 16 games.
"She is one of those kids that plays aggressive, she creates things and gets us going. When you put her on the back end she handles the puck well. She thinks the game well and she adds the composure factor. Regardless of where we play here, depending on our needs, she is going to be an asset at either end of the rink," explained Pavely.
Kendall said it was a big win after losing in the shootout Saturday.
"It really got the momentum going and hopefully we can keep it going the next few games and throughout the season," said Kendall.
The Wildcats finished the weekend in second spot in the standings with a 9-60-1 record.
The Wildcats only have two league games in the month of December, beginning Friday with a return visit to Regina to face the Rebels (3-5-2-2) to conclude the season series.
The Wildcats will also host the Notre Hounds (210-0-1) on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. at Fairview West Arena. The Wildcats defeated the Hounds 2-0 on Nov. 4 in their only previous league meeting this season.