The Portage Collegiate Saints hockey team started their season off with a bang. PCI took down the Springfield Sabres 3-2 in a shootout tonight on home ice.
The Sabres opened the scoring with just 1.8 seconds left in the first period. Saints head coach Jo-Anne Clark-Gillespie had a message for the girls during the first intermission.
"We said, 'You're getting embarrassed by a team that is making fun of you, and they're hooting and hollering. Stop them. Shut them up.' And they did. They just started out working them."
The second period was a completely different story as Zoe Gemmell put home a goal that went high, over the goaltender, and dropped into the back of the net to tie the game.
A few minutes later, Brooke Henderson scored in tight and gave the Saints the lead, which they held onto for the rest of the frame.
PCI fought off a 5-on-3 penalty in the third, and goaltender Abby Reichert made a few stellar saves to hold the lead, however, the Sabres were able to find the back of the net with just 19 seconds to go, sending this game to overtime.
The extra frame ultimately solved nothing, which brought the contest to a shootout. Tillie Botterill was the first shooter for the Saints, and she made no mistake about it. Reichert stepped up to make three consecutive saves to secure the opening night victory for PCI.
Clark-Gillespie says she was very happy with the girls' performance.
"I really liked the work ethic and how they came together. They were supporting one another. We have to learn more about supporting each other on the ice and supporting the puck but that'll come," Clark-Gillespie continues. "That was a very intense game for the first game of a season, and I like that. I was proud of how our girls reacted to some of their rough stuff and some of their reacting after the play. I was really proud of how the girls just walked away and said, 'Make them look silly while we look like hockey players.'"
The head coach gave both of their goaltenders some time in the crease tonight but notes that probably won't become a trend.
"It's hard to come in part way through a game cold. I was a goaltender, and I know what that's like but I wanted to see both of them tonight. I wanted to give Sof (Sofia Lund), as a Grade 9 rookie, that chance to start her first game but I told Abby I'd put her in halfway," Clark-Gillespie explains. "Because they are double rostering, they're both AAA players, our schedule is basically based on their availability. One might get more games than the other just based on availability but it's nice to know that I can throw either one in, and we're going to get good goaltending between the pipes."
The Saints will look to improve to 2-0 on Monday as they host Murdoch MacKay at Stride Place.