Saints 3-0 in preseason
Shay Perry backstopped the PCI Saints to three wins at a preseason seeding tournament this week. (File photo)
The Portage Collegiate Institute Saints hockey team got off to an excellent start to its season.
The Saints went a perfect 3-0 in the Winnipeg Women's High School Hockey League preseason seeding tournament this week, all but assuring PCI a spot in the CTV 'A' Division.
Head coach Jo-Anne Clark-Gillespie said she was looking to slide into the 'B' division in the off-season, but now realizes the Saints might be just fine staying up.
"I'd finally been advocating a move down after three years of struggling," said Clark-Gillespie. "I finally have the team that is probably the one that should be in 'A'."
Two of the three wins were over 2011-12 'B' Divison teams in College Beliveau (2-0) and St. Norbert (2-1). However, Clark-Gillespie did point to a 5-1 win over Dakota, one of the 'A' loop's top clubs in recent years, as a major plus.
"We looked very good playing them, and we outshot them (by) a lot, too," said Clark-Gillespie. "In the seven years that I've been doing this, I haven't seen a team look that together already so early, so that was nice to see."
Grade 10 student Sydney Taylor was the star of the show against Dakota, figuring in on all of the team's goals with two tallies and three helpers. Clark-Gillespie said the new blood like Taylor's has already seemed to reinvigorate the room.
"She's very energetic on the ice and on the bench," said Clark-Gillespie. "I can already sense a little different vibe on the bench. Girls are a little bit more into it and excited.
"When players play that way, it kind of leaks out to other players as well."
The Saints also boast defending goaltender of the year Shay Perry, who Clark-Gillespie said has taken another step forward in the offseason.
"Shay looked unbelievably great," said Clark-Gilespie. "She was seeing everything. She was controlling and smothering her rebounds. There weren't many rebounds.
"Against Dakota, she had a little bit more work, but she was following every shot into the corner, directing her rebounds into the corner."
The Saints have released their roster, with 15 players comprising the team and six players on an affiliated player list. Clark-Gillespie said the six players will practice with the team and be called upon to play when needed.
"Girls are stretched so thin nowadays between jobs and other sports and their commitment to school," said Clark-Gillespie. "But it's also a little bit of motivation for everybody else that there are people in the wings this year waiting that would love to have your spot.
"You're going to need to earn your playing time this year. I'm not saying that as a threat to anybody, but they're just kind of using it as a motivator within themselves, I hope."