Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Women's High School hockey: Raiders refuse to lose

Oak Park switches gears to tie series with St. Mary's

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It isn't exactly a unique slogan, nor is it a trendy catchphrase that will be appearing on bumper stickers or T-shirts any time soon.

Still, it works for the Oak Park Raiders girls hockey team, it fits their collective identity perfectly and was on full display in Tuesday's 3-2 win over the St. Mary's Flames in Game 2 of the Winnipeg Women's High School Hockey League CTV Division A Championship.

The result forces a Game 3 in the best-of-three final, scheduled for Thursday at 4 p.m. at Keith Bodley Arena.

"Our mantra is: work hard and never quit," said Raiders assistant coach Michelle Sparrow. "And it's worked for us all season and again today.

"The goal was to force a Game 3 against these guys. St. Mary's has had a very successful season and they're a very, very strong team but when we stick to the game plan our girls can be successful. That's what we did and hard work and determination paid off for us."

The Flames took an early lead in Tuesday's contest at the MTS Iceplex when Danielle Krzysczyk deftly deked around two Raiders before beating goaltender Amanda Pushka with a backhand. But that's when Oak Park found another gear and the ice tilted considerably in their favour.

The Raiders scored twice in 39 seconds in the second period -- the first coming on a point blast from Megan Stefanson that found its way through traffic, the second an unassisted effort by Erin Kucheravy after a Flames' turnover -- while completely dominating the middle frame.

In the third period, captain Aly Robinson put the Raiders ahead 3-1 when she went five-hole on Flames netminder Rebecca Chess on a two-on-one.

St. Mary's coach Eric Pele opted to pull the goaltender with three minutes remaining and the ploy worked when Sara Vis tapped home a loose puck in a scramble in front of the net. But the Flames could pull no closer and the Raiders live to play another day.

"As a senior this is my last year and I really want to win this championship," said Robinson. "We have some momentum but they probably have some now, too, because losing builds a fire within you.

"It was really intense out there. At the beginning of the game we had a lot of nerves because we were already down in the series. And it seems like with our team whenever we get down by a goal we get that much more fired up. But coming back with this win is really important because it shows we can play with St. Mary's."

The Raiders Puskha kicked out 28 of 30 St. Mary's shots for the win while Chess made 28 saves for St. Mary's.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 23, 2011 C5

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