Optimism is growing in Malvern, as the girls hockey team pulled out a 1-1 tie against Silverthorn Spartans Feb. 10 at George Bell Arena.
Though coach Steve Woods’ puck-handlers came out flat in the first period, he’ll use the last two of their final regular season game as the inspiration for their playoff run.
“The third period showed the girls, the fans and me what the team is capable of,” he said. “That’s my message to them in the dressing room: remember this period of this game.
“I just want them to have this memory and play like that.”
Pulling great periods for the Black Knights was Emily Pitre who was moved from the defence by Woods to fill gaps in the lack of forwards.
Pitre scored the game-tying notch in the third during a mad scramble in front of Silverthorn goaltender Sarah Jamieson.
The marker started the game anew after Spartans’ captain Ashley Deniuzzo scored on breakaway in the first period.
While the team’s rally might be used as inspiration down the stretch, the tie did strike a sour note as Malvern will lose the second seed to Silverthorn because of it.
Still, if the Black Knights maintain discipline, anything can be achieved in the South Region Tier 2 playoffs, especially if the four-pack of defenders — Emma Korbs, Margaux Daly, Erin Smith and Pitre — are consistent.
“For this team the game is pretty simple: pass the puck put it in the net,” he said. “We’ve worked on skills all year, now’s the time to work on focus.”
Much like Malvern, Spartans coach Hilda Farrar said her team had gaps in their lines as she shuffled two centres between three lines.
“We were short a few players, so that didn’t work well,” she said. “We had to rearrange our lines and we had to double shift our centres. I tired out a lot of my better players.”
Even with the lack of bench Silverthorn played with gusto.
“I think they played the best game of the season because they all stepped up to cover for our two players that were absent,” she said.
With the Tier 2 South/West playoffs commencing Feb. 22, Woods is hopeful his team’s youth is not an issue.
“There are six grade 9 girls on this team and three grade 10s, so to play like this with predominantly 14-year-old team against bigger, stronger opposition and they’re starting to take the play to them, what I can say is they have improved,” he said. “I’m really, really proud of them for meeting the challenge.”
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