The Portage Collegiate Institute (PCI) Saints are one step closer to locking down second place in the Winnipeg Women's High School Hockey League's 'B' Division. They shut out Springfield 3-0 at the BDO Centre Wednesday to improve to 17-4 this season.
PCI got out to a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the first period thanks to Maddie Shwaluk's unassisted goal, then seemed to lay off of their opponents until halfway through the third period.
"The second period we got a little bit better but we were battling ourselves more than we were battling with them. Who knows what goes through high school girls' heads when they're on the bench," laughs head coach Jo-Anne Clark-Gillespie. "By the end of the game, we were really good, especially when everyone is on the same page. Morgan Klassen shut the door and made the saves when she had to in the net, and that's what we need from our goalies when our players are struggling a bit."
Hailee Morisseau got the Saints their insurance goal with seven minutes to go in the third. Kiera Shwaluk scored an empty-net goal to secure the victory.
So You're Saying There's A Chance....
The Saints now have a shot at catching Sturgeon Heights for first place thanks to Beliveau's 5-2 win over the Huskies Wednesday.
A win over Garden City Thursday would guarantee the Saints first place in the division, and home advantage through the entire playoffs. If River East does manage to win their final regular season match they'll finish tied with the Saints. The tie break comes down to regulation wins, which PCI wins by far. Clark-Gillespie outlines what they need to do in the final game of the season to capture the top spot and head into playoffs confident.
"I'd like to see us go out and hammer Garden City now to get ready for playoffs," adds Clark-Gillespie. "Offensively I'd like to see us play our best. Our breakouts were terrible against Springfield even though we spent a full practice working on them. We just need to clean up things in our own zone and get going early. We had too much interruption in flow Wednesday so I want to see us at a high-speed tomorrow, entering the offensive zone very fast, and a lot of shots on net."
The Saints finish their season Thursday in Portage. They face off against Garden City and a win would help them secure first place.
A shining light in the Springfield game was the play of the Saints defenders.
"I don't think a lot of people realize that we have three grade 9s and a grade 10 ringette player playing with Kiera Shwaluk," says Clark-Gillespie. "They're getting more confident, and they work hard in practice, but you look at them and that's a lot to ask of players that young. They're handling it well, and Kiera is amazing on the back-end and she's teaching the other players a lot."
Shwaluk has been a constant force on the blue line this season, with 26 points in 21 games, and is 19th in league scoring as.
"She's so skilled and she knows the game, but she's so level headed and a teacher on the ice. She's talking on the bench constantly, working with players in practice, and you can see she's never really frustrated out there. She's a positive influence on the whole team."
****This article previously stated the Bailey Grantham got the Saints their insurance goal.