WILLAN STRIKES IN THIRD TO LEAD SLASH PAST SELECTS
JASON LA ROSE
BRIDGEWATER, N.S. – Madison Willan scored twice in just over two minutes to break open a tie game, and the St. Albert Slash pulled away in the third period for a 4-1 win over the Northern Selects in the first game Wednesday at the 2018 Esso Cup.
The win clinches a semifinal spot for the defending national champions, and leaves Northern needing a win in its preliminary-round finale Thursday to have a chance at the final four.
Both teams came out firing in the first period, combining for 24 shots on goal – 13-11 in favour of St. Albert – but Slash goaltender Brianna Sank and Selects counterpart Jenna Landry were perfect to get the game to the first intermission scoreless.
Shyla Kirwer broke through for the Slash just past the four-minute mark of the second period, taking a centering feed from Vanessa Verbitsky and getting a quick shot up and over Landry, but Maddie Quinn poked in the tying goal off a scramble in front of Sank to get the Atlantic champions even midway through the middle frame.
St. Albert turned up the heat in the third period, outshooting Northern 15-5, but it took until the 11:31 mark for Willan to put the Slash up for good; she danced her way around two Selects before tucking the go-ahead goal around Landry.
She quickly struck again, snapping home a quick shot from the slot to give the Slash a little breathing room.
Jaden Bogden finished the scoring with 3:42 left, redirecting a quick feed from Isabelle Lajoie through Landry to provide the final margin of victory.
St. Albert finishes the preliminary round Thursday against the Brampton Canadettes (12 p.m. AT), while the Selects will close out the round robin against the Saskatoon Stars (3:30 p.m. AT).