The Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats split a weekend home stand against the Regina Rebels over the weekend to move to 3-1 in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League.
Saturday, Taylor Kirwan scored twice on the power play during a three-point outing in a 5-1 win. Carissa Hogan added a goal and two assists and Taylor Lind chipped in a goal and an assist. Brooklyn Colborn also scored, while Toni Theaker, Brynne Doerksen, and Trista Labarowski all added assists. Harper Davey earned the win with 20 saves.
Sunday, the Wildcats spent a considerable amount of time in the penalty box and lost the rematch 3-1. The Wildcats led 1-0 on a Layne Hryhoriw power play goal in the first period with assists from Colborn and Maddy McCleary.
The Wildcats took five of the final six penalties, which resulted in the game-tying and winning goals during a three-goal third period for the visitors. Samantha Sichkaruk scored a power play goal early in the third period and then Jenna Merk notched the game winner with 5:35 left on the clock before Sichkaruk added an insurance marker.
Regina finished two-for-eight on the man-advantage, while the Wildcats finished one-for-three on the power play.
“Not a couple, it was selfish penalties, stupid penalties, and that was the sole difference in the game,” lamented Wildcats head coach Terry Pavely. “We took a selfish penalty at the end of the second [period]. I told our coaches they are going to score because they get to put out their first unit for 45 seconds, they get to go in and rest, put their first unit out again and we dug it out of our net. Then late in the game we had a long five-on-three we had to kill and eventually we dug it out of our net. We just can’t take penalties against good teams. You look at the score sheet after, slash behind the play, cross-checks in front of the net, cross-check in the corner, those are selfish penalties and you don’t win hockey games playing selfish.”
Compounding the issue was that the Wildcats were without some of their top players because of the undisciplined play.
“So we take selfish penalties that hurt us and then we have to bench kids that we need to help us at the end of the game, so it’s a double edged sword. They have to learn lessons, so the kids we need to be out on the ice scoring goals we benched because of stupid penalties. That’s the only way to solve it I guess, one, we sit them, or two, we skate the crap out of everybody at practice,” said Pavely.
Chantel Weller earned the win with 21 saves. Amaya Giraudier suffered the loss with 28 saves on 31 shots.
“She was very good,” said Pavely of his rookie netminder. “The last goal there was a rebound there on a tough shot and we didn’t tie up a stick in front. Again they did a good job of getting to the net and outnumbering us there. Sometimes for the D when there is a lot of bodies around you are not sure who to go to. I thought she was really solid in net. We were extremely happy with both our goaltenders this weekend.
The Wildcats are one of only two teams that have played more than two games and lead the SFMAAAHL with nine points. Pavely said that there were positives to be taken from the weekend despite the disappointing final period.
“We were happy, five-on-five I thought the game was pretty even. We scored one power play goal today, they scored two of them I think. So really, five-on-five I thought it was a pretty even game. I thought our neutral zone was way better than it was yesterday. The bottom line unfortunately became the penalties. That’s probably the worst thing about it is it really leaves a sour taste in your mouth when you lose a game because of penalties and we probably didn’t play that bad a game.”
The Wildcats had opened the season with two road wins over the Weyburn Wings the previous weekend.
“This was really the first test we’ve had this year and they [Regina] are a good hockey team. At the end of the day we knew we weren’t going to go undefeated. We really hope that it’s a lesson learned that we can’t take stupid penalties. Sometimes you can bench kids, you can skate them, but at the end of the day you can look at the scoreboard and hopefully that’s lesson enough that the people that took stupid penalties really let their team down.”
The Wildcats will be back in league action when they host the Notre Dame Hounds on Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. at Fairview West Arena. They head west this weekend for two games against the Kimberley Nitro Express.
“We have to work on some systems stuff and some penalty kill stuff. We haven’t had any opportunities to really do that yet. We are going to have a good team-building weekend in Kimberley when we go out that way and we need that. We need to set some better expectations. Some of these kids really don’t know what it takes, compete level, practice level, work ethic day in, day out at this level. A weekend away with the team will really be a positive for us,” said Pavely.