After a back-and-forth battle for two periods, Elizabeth Salyn (Edmonton, Alta.) scored a beautiful goal – and the only goal of the game – midway through the third period Saturday to help the Edmonton Thunder (Pacific) beat the Regina Rebels (West) 1-0 on, and skate away from the 2013 Esso Cup with bronze medals around their necks.
It was an equally matched game that remained scoreless through 40 minutes of competitive play on the ice at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre. The first period highlighted the stick-handling abilities and crisp passing skills of both teams. Edmonton and Regina also put plenty of quality shots on net, with the puck bouncing back and forth between zones frequently.
The second period showed off superb goaltending skills by Edmonton’s Chloe Sanderson (Edmonton, Alta.) and Regina’s Tatum Shand (Regina, Sask.). Despite plenty of solid offensive chances, neither team could seem to put the puck in the net, despite even power-play opportunities.
“Anytime you outshoot a team in the second period and you don’t get a goal, you know the odds become that you are going to get one scored on you,” Regina head coach Kim Perepeluk said after the game. “I was very proud of the girls; I thought they showed a tremendous amount of resiliency and really, it could have gone either way.”
Salyn said that during the second period her team just couldn’t seem to hit the net. But that all changed in the third period, when she received a pretty pass from player of the game Alexandra Poznikof (Edmonton, Alta.), set up by Taylor Hughson (Edmonton, Alta.). As the puck slide into the bottom left corner, the girls erupted in excitement.
“It was a relief,” Salyn said. “We were being out shot, we were in their end a lot, (but) we just weren’t putting pucks on the net, so once we started putting pucks on the net we thought, ‘Oh, something has got to go in.”
The rest of the game was intense, with both teams playing hard right until the very end. With about a minute of the game to go, a time-out was called and Regina pulled its goalie, but it wasn’t enough for the Western reps to score a goal and tie it up before time ran down on the clock.
Salyn, who is a first-year player, said that nothing prepared her for the intensity of playing seven games in seven days. Edmonton head coach Cassea Schols agreed.
“It’s a long, grueling seven days and seven games, and you have got to push yourself at every single one of them and you can’t just expect to win,” she said.
But in the end, it’s all worth it, Salyn said. “It was a long week, but to be going home with a medal, it’s awesome.”