PICTOU: It was a provincial championship game much like the battle that waged all season between the top two teams in the Bantam AA Female provincial hockey league.
“We were in first place for a little bit during the season, but we finished second by one point to the team we met in the provincial championship,” said Bryan Smith, coach of the Fundy Highland Subway Selects.
Smith’s Selects are now provincial champs, following a 1-0 final against Halifax’s Metro West Force White Team. The tournament took place the weekend of March 8.
During the regular season Metro (19-2-3) edged the Selects (19-3-2) in the standings after tying one game.
“Our girls were pretty excited,” the coach said. “Seven of the girls I coached consecutively over the last four years, and we played in the provincial final for the last four years – three of those years against the same team. It’s been quite a ride.
“Three years ago, we were the team that played seven overtime periods. It was called a 1-1 tie for the provincial championship.”
Scoring for the Selects was Ellie Clarke who got her stick on a pass out of the corner from Emily Hart. Clarke directed the puck to the net where it went off a Metro player and across the goal line. Metro pulled its goalie late in the third but could not get out of their own end as the Selects pinned them in by getting pucks in deep.
Game MVP was Gabby Arsenault, who also earned her third shutout of the tournament.
“Halifax and our team were on top of the league by almost 20 points, and we were both fighting for the trophy,” Smith said. “We also faced them in the first game of round robin, and they won 1-0.”
That first game saw Bree MacPherson of the Selects garner the MVP honours.
In game two, the Selects played the Metro East Inferno and won 1-0. The lone goal was scored short-handed by Olivia Fitt off the face-off win by game MVP Megan Smith. Gabby Arsenault earned the shutout.
Game three was against the host team Cape Breton Blizzard. The Selects won 3-0 with goals coming from Madison Beson, Emily Hart and Olivia Fitt. Gabby Arsenault earned her second shutout, and Sarah Fraser was game MVP.
Finishing off the round robin, the Selects faced the Cape Breton West Islanders in a must-win situation.
The Selects took the lead early in this game and went on to win 5-1, earning a shot at the provincial title. Fitt had a hatrick, and Julia MacDonald and Jaylen Langille had singles.
The Selects were also a big winner when it came to the awards banquet.
Individual awards went to the following players: Madison Beson, Top Forward; Gabby Arsenault, Top Goalie; Olivia Fitt, Top Scorer; Erin MacNeil, Fastest Skater; and Baillie Griffon, Puck Handling. Making the first all star team were Erin MacNeil and Josie Dunn, and earning a shot on the second all star team was Julia MacDonald.
The Selects are now prepping for a trip to Clarenville, Newfoundland on the weekend of April 4. The Atlantic Championship will be played there.
“We’re a strong skating team,” Smith said. “We have 10 forwards, and I feel that’s a strength as well. Adding another player to the rotation gives the team a rest every few shifts, and that lets the players catch their breath a little bit more.
“We get pucks in deep and wear the other teams down. We won’t be changing our game at all [at Atlantics]. We’re going to keep the ball rolling.”