Stars down Esso in shootout thriller

Rarely do championship games produce such exciting results.
The BDO Stars PeeWee girls’ hockey team edged Fort Frances Esso 5-4 in the ‘A’ final of the Fort Frances Atom ‘A’ tournament Sunday afternoon at the Ice for Kids Arena.
The championship tilt featured every aspect of a classic hockey game—early scoring, a late rally to tie the game, end-to-end chances in overtime, and finally a shootout to decide the winner.
The only complaint heard among the fans in the stands centered around the fact that one of the two talented teams on the ice had to lose.
After the game, both coaches beamed as they spoke of their respective teams—regardless of whether they had won or not.
“The kids played well as a team,” Stars’ coach Darwin Woods enthused. “It was just hard work by everybody.
“There was no individual play,” he stressed.
“It doesn’t get more exciting then that,” added Paul Whatley, who along coaches Esso along with Steve Watson.
“The kids never gave up and they just kept working right through even though we were down. They kept coming back.
“It was hard to control the emotions, everyone was pretty pumped up,” Whatley noted. “It was too bad someone had to lose.
“Even the ref came up and said what a great game it was.”
Although Esso did come up a goal short after 65 minutes of play and a shootout, Whatley was adamant his players should be proud of their performance.
“The kids gave it their best effort and that’s all that really matters,” he remarked. “They all need to hold their heads high and be proud of themselves.”
Stars’ captain Joe-dy Morrisseau got her team off to a quick start, scoring the game’s opening goal just over five minutes into the first period.
Morrisseau’s shot seemed to surprise Esso goalie Connor Watson, who appeared to believe the puck was going wide of the net.
The Stars added to their advantage courtesy of a fortuitous break later in the period.
A blocked shot found its way onto Shailyn Loyie’s stick. Watson—caught out of position due to the rebound—could not recover in time as Loyie buried the puck into the wide-open cage.
The Stars then appeared to have the game well in hand after Kennadi Herbert sent Alyssa Penner in on a breakaway.
Penner made no mistake converting the opportunity—burying a wrist shot past Watson to give her team a 3-0 lead.
But Esso forward James Brown cut the deficit to a pair of goals after he scored on a great individual effort. He made several moves, skated into the high slot, and fired a wrist past Stars’ goalie Savannah Woods.
The second period began in similar fashion as the Stars wasted little time adding to their goal total.
Penner picked up her second goal of the night, assisted by Herbert and Loyie, when she stuffed home a loose puck in the Esso crease.
Esso then began the long climb back on a strange play with less than five minutes left in the second period.
Woods tried to smother a loose puck and force a defensive zone face-off, but Esso defenceman Chris Jensen knocked it loose and Tanner Gill-Roisin poked it home to cut the Stars’ lead to a pair of goals again.
Gill-Roisin pulled Esso within a goal moments before the second intermission when he fired a long wrist shot that eluded Woods on her glove side.
Esso completed the comeback just before the midway point of the final period when Ian Jodoin centered the puck to Gill-Roisin, who one-timed a shot past Woods for his third goal of the afternoon to knot the score at 4-4.
Neither team was able to break the deadlock before the end of regulation time and so it was off to overtime. Both teams had quality scoring opportunities in the extra frame, but neither could capitalize—necessitating a shootout to determine the winner.
Brown shot first for Esso and was stopped by Woods, giving Morrisseau an opportunity to win the game if she could convert on her attempt.
The Stars’ captain made one move before beating Watson with a hard shot “five hole” to win the game and the tourney crown.
The older Stars’ squad was a late addition to the 12-team tournament, filling in on an emergency basis after one of the other teams pulled out at the last moment.
In other tournament action, the Kenora Legion Blues captured the ‘B’ crown courtesy of a 5-2 victory over the Emo Hawks.
Trailing 2-0 about midway through the second period, Hawks’ forward Bretton Joseph cut the deficit in half after taking a pass from Aaron McDowall.
The Blues responded to the Joseph goal with three of their own before Joseph tallied his second marker of the game—assisted by Dylan Swire—late in the period.
The third period was scoreless.
And in the ‘C’ final between two Kenora teams, the Hall’s Flyers beat the Keewatin Place Blues 5-2.