HARTNEY — Brooklyn Platt fed a pass to Hannah Petrie from the corner and Petrie lifted the puck over the glove of Westman Wildcats netminder Kaitlyn Slator 2:03 into double overtime to clinch the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League title for the Pembina Valley Hawks, winning Game 3 by a score of 2-1 on Sunday afternoon.
The Hawks, who include Baldur natives Niomi Pantel and Hannah Desrochers, swept the best-of-five league final 3-0 in a battle of the top two teams from the regular season.
"I didn’t think it went in but then everyone came rushing the ice," Petrie said. "That was very exciting.
"I honestly was trying to get a quick release and quick shot just over the pad and that’s where it went."
Slator, who made 19 saves, said Petrie’s shot grazed the top of her glove.
"I probably could have had it," Slator admitted through tears.
But her counterpart, Pembina Valley goalie Halle Oswald, was truly the difference in the series, allowing just two goals on 89 shots fired her way, making 31 saves in Game 3.
"We did what we needed to do," Wildcats head coach Guy Williams said. "We had plenty of scoring opportunities; Oswald was the difference."
The first good scoring chance of the game came from the Wildcats midway through the opening frame when Ashton Bell went in on a breakaway. The Deloraine native beat Oswald but not the post with her backhander.
Bell and Alisha O’Hara teamed up on a two-on-one late in the period, but Oswald kicked out her right pad, preventing O’Hara from opening the scoring.
"Bell’s breakaway in the first period that might have been a difference maker," Williams said. "Oswald made some incredible saves."
As the second period got underway, the Wildcats started getting sloppy with the puck in their own zone. They turned the puck over several times, but the Hawks couldn’t take advantage.
And just before the 10-minute mark of the frame it was another turnover, this time in the neutral zone by Pembina Valley, that sprung Bell on another breakaway. This time, however, she beat Oswald glove side to put Westman up 1-0.
Bell nearly added to the lead on a terrific individual effort on a Wildcats man advantage but Oswald turned her aside.
Camryn Clyne had a great chance early in the third as the late trailer on a three-on-two but again Oswald turned aside the Westman chance.
The Hawks had only mustered one shot on goal after almost 10 minutes of play in the third but Mackenzie McCallum knotted the game up by knocking a power-play marker past Slator off a deflected point shot.
"Five of their six goals, not including the empty-net goal (in Game 1) our goaltender didn’t even get a chance to make a save on, it went that way all series and the first goal (Sunday) our defenceman blocked the shot and it lands on somebody’s stick and it’s in the back of the net," Williams said. "We didn’t give up hardly any quality scoring chances all game and we had a ton. We just didn’t finish."
And for the first time in the series, overtime was needed. The Hawks won 3-0 in Game 1 and held on for a 2-1 Game 2 victory.
Westman had the two best chances of the 10-minute session, with Sanderson tipping a Bell shot into the chest of Oswald and Paige Hubbard stopped just outside the crease.
But not long after the second overtime period started, Petrie potted her second game-winning marker in as many games.
Despite coming up short in their bid to win the MFMHL title for the first time, Westman’s season isn’t quite over. The Wildcats will travel to Saskatchewan to face either the Saskatoon Stars or Prince Albert Northern Bears in a best-of-three Esso Cup west regional series in a couple weeks time.
The winner will advance to the Esso Cup, being hosted by the Hawks from April 23 to 29.
LEAGUE HONOURS: A quartet of local players in the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League were recognized with honours on Sunday.
Westman Wildcats forward Ashton Bell was named the MVP after leading the league in goals (35) and points (53) in just 22 regular-season contests, while McKiya Mazur of the Yellowhead Chiefs was the top rookie. She tallied eight goals and eight assists in 28 games.
Bell and Tatum Amy of Yellowhead received first-team all-star nods, while Shae Vallotton of the Wildcats was named a second-team all-star. Amy finished fourth in league scoring with 37 points (27 goals, eight assists) and Valloton registered 19 points (four goals, 15 assists).
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