Monday, January 31, 2011

Little Caesars: 2011 JWHL Challenge Cup Champions

2011 JWHL Challenge Cup Champions Little Caesars

After playing their semifinals early in the morning, Warner School (Warner, AB) and Little Caesars (Detroit, MI) met in the championship game of the 2011 JWHL Challenge Cup.

It was a fiercely fought and heavily-penalized game (each team had nine power play chances), with a scoreless first period that looked more like a goaltending clinic for Warner goalie Jade Walsh. Little Caesars outshot Warner School in the first period by a 10-5 margin. The statistic wasn't surprising just by watching the gameplay -- Little Caesars controlled the puck through the majority of the period, and they never let up the pressure.

Warner School scored first, a goal that the Little Caesars contested, as it looked like it may have come during a delayed penalty call. Samantha Sutherland was credited with the goal, her fifth of the tournament, capping off a great individual tournament effort for her.

After feeling they were wronged on the good goal call, the Little Caesars struck back quickly, taking advantage of a power play to tie it up. After an initial shot rang off the crossbar, Maryanne Menefee picked up the rebound and ripped it past Walsh to make the score 1-1.

The third period remained tied until Casey Dockus had a breakaway chance, and while falling as she tried to shrug off a defender, she managed to get a shot off. The puck slid into the net, and Dockus crashed hard into the boards. As her teammates surrounded her to congratulate her for the goal, she remained on the ice, and took a few moments to get up. Based on how she was moving after the game during the on-ice ceremony, it looked as though she injured her arm/shoulder in the collision.

Warner School went to the power play in the last minute of the game, and Warner threw everything they could on goaltender Taylor Fairchild, but nothing got through. Little Caesars won the championship 2-1.

After the game, the ecstatic Little Caesars team were presented with medals and the championship banner to display in the rafters of their home arena in Michigan.

The tournament was a great experience that all the girls really seemed to enjoy. A lot of talented hockey was displayed, and it was great watching athletes that will be playing hockey in college (I saw scouts from Yale, Minnesota, and more), and maybe even in the Olympics someday.

And more than a few players non-native to the area left with a plethora of Capitals gear picked up at the team pro shop.

Three stars of the Championship game:

3rd - Maryanne Menefee (one goal)
2nd - Jade Walsh (30 saves)
1st - Casey Dockus (game-winning goal, one assist)

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