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This article was published 13/3/2019 (444 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As the St. Mary’s Flames battled their way to the Winnipeg Women’s High School Hockey League Division 1 final, starting goalie Olivia Svenne could do nothing but watch.
Svenne, the team’s only goaltender, was out of action for a month with a concussion. The Flames were forced to dive into the substitute pool and use three different netminders in the first two rounds of the playoffs, as well as Game 1 of the final series against the No. 1-ranked Selkirk Royals.
"It was the worst thing ever," Svenne said. "Especially the first round because it was really tight. I wanted to be in net and it sucked."
Luckily for Svenne, and St. Mary’s, she was cleared to play Wednesday night in Game 2 of the best-of-three championship series at Bell MTS Iceplex. The No. 2-ranked Flames won Monday’s series opener 4-1. On Wednesday, they captured the championship with a hard-fought 3-1 victory.
Svenne, a Grade 9 student at Shaftesbury High School who plays for St. Mary’s because her school doesn’t have a team, showed zero signs of rust while making 20 saves.
"It’s a lot of pressure, especially for someone who’s coming back off of that, especially in this game," said Flames head coach Mike Zirino, who also guided the team to the title last season. "I couldn’t have asked more from her. She played a fantastic game."
Svenne got some help from her teammates early, as Flames leading scorer Maia Ehmann scored at the 6:11 mark of the first period.
Neither team scored in the second, although Selkirk had a prime opportunity towards the end of the period during a five-on-three power-play for more than a minute.
But the Royals regrouped and three minutes into the third period, defenceman Amy Maclaren’s wrist shot trickled through Svenne’s five-hole to tie it up at 1-1.
The game didn’t stay tied for long. Less than a minute after the equalizer, Clare Hibbert battled in front of the net and smacked the puck past Royals goalie Jodi Clifton to give the Flames a 2-1 lead. The Flames added a goal at the buzzer.
Svenne then helped preserve the lead for St. Mary’s. Selkirk couldn’t get another puck past the young goalie. The Royals didn’t help their cause in the third period as they were called for three minor penalties. A cross-checking penalty handed in the final minute to Rayley Goetz, the league’s top scorer, ending the Royals’ hopes of forcing the game into overtime.
"They were really good today," said Selkirk head coach Noah Cain of the Flames. "I thought we played a solid game, they were just a little bit better. We hardly had any chances, we had one goal today. I thought our team played well, they were just a bit better. It was just that simple. That’s the way it is in hockey. I think they got a couple bounces and in a three-game series, that’s how it goes."
Selkirk won the regular-season series against St. Mary’s, winning two out of three games and outscored the Flames 12-8. But in the final, despite being a team that averaged 3.79 goals per game in the regular season, they couldn’t get their offence going.
St. Mary’s captain Jenny Kim said the group was confident going into the finals that it would be a different result than their regular-season meetings with Selkirk.
"We can’t assume anything coming into the final series like this," said Kim, who was named the player of the game Wednesday night. "We came in here and didn’t think anything of our history with them. We came in here and showed what we could do and, as you can see, it paid off for sure."
For Kim, a Grade 12 student who was also a member of last year’s championship team, finishing off with another city banner is a dream come true.
"It means a lot to me," she said. "This is the best way I could possibly end my high school hockey career and definitely very memorable, for sure."
As for Svenne, she can help St. Mary’s keep their winning streak going next year. But this one will always mean something to her considering what she had to go through before she hoisted the trophy over her head Wednesday night.
"It makes it super special," Svenne said. "Being my first championship win and being out for so long and just finally getting that chance to be in net, it’s the best."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
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Updated on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at 11:45 PM CDT: Adds photos
March 14, 2019 at 12:37 PM: Cutline fixed.