MAPLETHORPE SCORES TWICE AS SLASH FINISH FIRST IN PRELIMINARY ROUND
MORDEN, Man. – Cassidy Maplethorpe scored two goals, including the game winner, as the St. Albert Slash beat the Durham West Lightning 7-3 to finish the preliminary round of the 2017 Esso Cup with a perfect 5-0 record on Thursday afternoon.
Durham West had an opportunity to secure its spot in the playoffs with a win, but both teams came out hard in the first period, flying from end-to-end. Lightning goaltender Victoria Kelaiditis and Slash netminder Brianna Sank were equal to the task, stopping eight and 15 shots, respectively.
Scoring started early in the second, with the Slash putting up some sustained pressure in the Lightning end. Maplethorpe picked up a bouncing puck and shot five-hole on Kelaiditis, beating the goaltender for a 1-0 Slash lead.
Durham West answered back midway through the frame on a turnover at the Slash blue-line. Brianna Brooks fed Julie Gough to finish the play, and her third of the national championship tied it 1-1.
But just over a minute later, Mackenzie Butz picked up a loose puck at the Lightning blue-line, walked in, wound up and blasted a shot top shelf on Kelaiditis. The Slash would carry that 2-1 lead into the third, and build on it.
Just over two minutes in, Stephanie Markowski made a stabbing play to hold the puck in the Lightning end. Tyra Meropoulis picked it up along the boards and fed Madison Willan, who was streaking toward the net. Willan used her momentum to get Kelaiditis on the move, then beat the goalie short side.
Some confusion in the Durham West end resulted in a 5-1 lead for the Slash. Kaylee Vader picked up the assist on Maplethorpe’s second of the game, which would end up being the game-winner.
By the 12:39 mark of the third, St. Albert had made it 6-1 on Willan’s fourth goal of the Esso Cup.
From the ensuing face-off, the Lightning came crashing into the Slash zone. Kate Gallant and Mackenzie MacDonald rushed the net, with Gallant sneaking it past Sank to cut the lead 6-2.
Four minutes later, Gallant recorded her championship-leading seventh goal, sending a shot to Sank’s glove side. But 6-3 would be as close as the Lightning could come, with Markowski scoring at 17:54 for her third of the Esso Cup and a 7-3 lead.
The Slash win means St. Albert secures first place after the preliminary round, and is the first team to finish perfect since the Thunder Bay Queens in 2012. The Durham West Lighting complete the preliminary round at 2-3.
Esso Cup playoffs begin at 3:30 p.m. CT Friday. Match-ups and schedule will be announced at the conclusion of Day 5 play.