After a late season surge, the Portage Collegiate Institute Saints suddenly look like the team to beat in the Winnipeg Women's High School Hockey League B Division.
Bailey Grantham netted a hat trick and Haley Swidnicki was perfect in net, as the PCI Saints shut out the Garden City Gophers 4-0 Thursday at the BDO Centre in Portage la Prairie. The Saints won their ninth straight game, clinching the B Division title to head to the playoffs as the No. 1 seed.
“The girls were excited,” says Saints head coach Jo-Anne Clark-Gillespie. “It was a frustrating game ... but I like how we battled and the girls did a lot of things well with the puck tonight.”
Kiera Shwaluk also scored for PCI.
The Saints jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, with Grantham scoring twice. After a scoreless second, PCI added to its lead in the third. Grantham sent the hats twirling and made it 3-0 for the hosts early on, then Shwaluk tacked on a goal late in regulation.
The WWHSHL playoffs begin the week of Feb. 20. The Saints will look to ride their late season surge to a first-ever WWHSHL B Division championship for the program – or appearance in the final for that matter. The last time a Saints team finished atop its division came back in the 2014-15 season, when the Lorette Scorpions bounced them from the playoffs in the semi-finals.
Many holdovers from that team remain on this roster, and it could finally be time for a breakthrough.
“Things are going well and I'm sure we have a target on our back now,” says Jo-Anne Clark-Gillespie. “...But we have some pretty focused girls and I'm sure they'll come ready to play and handle it well.”