Sports High School Sports

Saints shine in shootout loss

By Aaron Wilgosh, The Graphic

Saints goaltender Morgan Klassen was beaten by a backhand during the shootout against St. Mary's Thursday night. Playoffs get going for PCI on Monday. (Aaron Wilgosh/The Graphic)

Saints goaltender Morgan Klassen was beaten by a backhand during the shootout against St. Mary's Thursday night. Playoffs get going for PCI on Monday. (Aaron Wilgosh/The Graphic)

It was the girls’ best performance of the year.

That’s head coach Jo-Anne Clark-Gillespie’s thoughts on Portage Collegiate's 2-1 shootout loss to the first place St. Mary’s Flames Thursday night at the BDO Centre in Portage la Prairie to finish off their Winnipeg Women’s High School Hockey League CTV Division regular season.

“All the things we’ve gone through this season, something has to go our way in the playoffs,” laughs Clark-Gillespite. “We’re creating chances with our work ethic. Every single girl on that bench played the best game of their season today and teams are starting to worry about us heading into playoffs because Morgan (Klassen) is on a role and the girls are flying in front of her.”

The Saints took a first period lead at 12:34 when the twins, Maddie and Paige Shwaluk, connected to find twine.  It was a clean first period without any penalties handed out. Saints tender Morgan Klassen turned away five shots while the girls threw four at the Flames.

The second was a different story as the Flames took over control of the game, outshooting the Saints 10-1 through the 20-minute middle period. Their persistence paid off with the game-tying goal around the halfway point of the frame.

Chances were exchanged at both ends of the ice in the third period, as both clubs had a couple of chances on the power play but couldn’t find the game-winner. The Saints pressed hard late and missed a couple of tap-in chances while the Flames hit a post on a last minute power play. The Saints defence stood tall, though, clearing the puck from a sprawled out Klassen multiple times to force OT.

The Shwaluks started the overtime period with four attackers facing off against them. A PCI faceoff win resulted in a quick St. Mary’s penalty to even things up on the ice. Portage missed a wide open net on the power play and as it expired the Flames were off on a breakaway, which was stopped by the left post to save Klassen and force a shootout.

The shootout was just as exciting as the overtime period but it ended with an away team win. The Saints went 1-for-4 with Maddie Shwaluk scoring the only goal while the Flames went 2-for-4 to clinch the victory.

The regular season is officially over for the Saints as they finished the year in the eighth position. The top four teams in the league all received a bye into the second round of the playoffs while the bottom eight will battle it out. Portage was fortunate enough to finish in eighth, ensuring a home advantage in the first round of the playoffs when they face off against River East, a team the girls haven’t beaten all season.

“Both of those losses were tight games we should’ve won,” admits Clark-Gillespie. “The Kodiaks are a physical team and they’re well coached so we’ll have to bring our hard-working effort like we have been these last couple of weeks to each game this series."

Game 1 of the series gets going Monday at 4 p.m. at Stride Place. Game two is Wednesday in Winnipeg, and if necessary a third game will be played Thursday in Portage.


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