By Carter Brooks
Photos by Laurie Anderson
The Manitoba Women’s Junior Hockey League has come to a decisive end.
As opposed to the typical number one seed taking on the number two seed in the final series, the fourth-ranked Prairie Blaze handed the sixth-place Silvertips a three-game-to-one series victory from Winnipeg’s Bell MTS Iceplex this past weekend.
The Blaze walked away as league champion following four close games in Headingley this past week. After finishing the year with just two more goals for than goals against, the Prairie Blaze turned up their offence, while relying on shutdown goaltending from AAA Midget call-up Emma Plett.
The current Eastman Selects’ starting netminder – who boasted a 2.32 goals against average and a .928 save percentage through 21 games in the AAA MFMHL this season – served as the emergency backup when both Kathryn Roberts and Kristin Hunt went down with injuries.
The Silvertips gave up a boatload of goals in a 9-3 loss to open the final series on Sunday, before bouncing back for a 5-2 victory Tuesday. Unfortunately, the Silvertips’ Cinderella story ended with the three-goal victory. The Prairie Blaze bounced back to double up their opponent on both Thursday (4-2) and Saturday (2-1).
Saturday’s game saw the two teams exchange goals before the end of regulation, in which the game remained knotted up at ones. A five-minute period of four-on-four overtime did not crown a winner. Five more minutes of three-on-three overtime also left the teams without a goal. The championship was decided in a shootout, as the Prairie Blaze’s Sonya Neale sealed the deal, putting the golden goal past Sara Cusack in sudden death.
The Silvertips’ Hope Anderson – who led the league with 24 goals in 2018-19 – continued her dominance in the postseason, picking up nine goals and 17 points in playoff games, leading in all three offensive statistical categories.
The Western Predators shut out the Polar Ice 3-0 in a one-game bronze medal playoff to finish the season as the league’s third-best squad earlier last week.