by Geordie Carragher
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The regular season and playoff scoring leader for the Pembina Valley Hawks (West) couldn’t have picked a better time to break through at the 2012 Esso Cup.
Cassidy Carels (Bruxelles, Man.), one of her team’s top goal getters, didn’t notch a single marker during preliminary play at this year’s national championship, but in Friday’s first semifinal, she came through with flying colours, sending the puck soaring into the back of the Edmonton Thunder (West) net twice for a 2-1 victory and a place in Saturday’s gold medal match-up.
With the victory, Carels and the rest of the Hawks have denied the Thunder their second consecutive trip to the final Esso Cup showdown.
The game was scoreless until early in the second, when Carels tipped a Madison Hutchinson (Manitou, Man.) clearing attempt past an Edmonton defender, sped down the wing and sent a perfectly placed wrist shot behind Edmonton netminder Chloe Sanderson (Edmonton, Alta.) to make it 1-0. The rest of the period was tightly contested, with Edmonton putting pressure in the offensive zone in an attempt to tie it up before 40 minutes were up.
But Carels struck again early in the third on a power-play, as she corralled a Brooke Drummond (Holland, Man.) point shot in front to bury it into the back of the net and give the Hawks a two-goal lead. After serving the Edmonton penalty, Mikaeli Cavell (Edmonton, Alta.) scored 16 seconds after stepping onto the ice to close the gap to just one.
Despite increased Edmonton pressure, Brittni Mowat (Glenboro, Man.) was sensational in the crease once again, maintaining her composure and showing why she was named the tournament’s top goaltender earlier Friday, to preserve Pembina Valley’s lead en route to a 22-save performance.Both goaltenders were sharp throughout the game, with Sanderson making 16 saves to keep her team close on the scoreboard.
Edmonton will go for its third consecutive Esso Cup medal when they face off for bronze Saturday at 1 p.m. AT. Pembina Valley will play for the Esso Cup gold medal Saturday at 5 p.m. AT, against the winner of Friday’s late semifinal between the Thunder Bay Queens (Ontario) and Halifax Metro Boston Pizza (Atlantic). Check your local listings to catch the gold medal action on TSN.
Order photos from the 2012 Esso Cup at www.HockeyCanadaImages.ca.