Team shuts out Kingston’s Holy Cross in AAA/AAAA championship
The Saltfleet Storm girls hockey team has skated its way into the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations’ history book.
Saltfleet upset No. 2 ranked Kingston’s Holy Cross 1-0 in the AAA/AAAA championship last Friday in Sudbury to clinch its first provincial title.
“It feels pretty amazing,” Storm head coach Steve Cadogan said. “The team is very excited. It’s an impressive feat for these girls.”
Saltfleet’s Hunter French netted the only goal with 1:23 left in the first period, when she jammed the puck past Holy Cross netminder Jensen Murphy on a goalmouth scramble. Rachel Smith and Grace Illias earned the assists.
Storm netminder Mackenzie Mccullough earned the shutout in goal. Despite having a broken foot, she stopped all 20 shots fired on net. Mccullough broke her foot during the exam break while on a school ski trip.
Cadogan said the game was close throughout the three periods.
“It was tougher for us because we received five penalties and Holy Cross did not receive one, but all of the girls played well throughout the game. On a five-on-three, Rachel dove and blocked a slapshot with her head,” he said. “Mackenzie is obviously very tough and was pretty impressive in net. Our depth was the key in the end.”
Saltfleet – ranked 12th going into OFSAA – dominated its opening round opponents.
The Storm defeated Oakville’s St. Ignatius of Loyola 6-0 and Sudbury’s École secondaire Macdonald-Cartier 7-0 in their first and second games. The team tied Holy Cross 1-1 in its third game.
In the quarter-finals, Saltfleet edged Ajax’s Pickering High School 5-3.
The Storm then shutout Arva’s Medway High School 2-0 in the semifinals to earn their spot in the final.
Saltfleet goaltender Jessica Marlow, who was also coming off an injury heading into OFSAA, recorded wins in net during opening and quarter-final action.
“Jessica picked up the win over Cartier and Pickering, who was a very strong team,” Cadogan said. “Both Mackenzie and Jessica were very impressive in goal. The hardest part, for me personally, was figuring out who to start in net the final game, as both would have played well.”
Cadogan said he couldn’t be happier about the Storm’s overall performance at the provincials.
“I am very proud of the girls. The character, effort and hard work they put into this event was amazing,” he said. “Also, we were fortunate that our girls who hold positions on the Stoney Creek Midget AA and Bantam AA Sabres were allowed to play. That was an integral part of our success.”
Saltfleet qualified for OFSAA by beating Welland’s Notre Dame 3-2 in the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association championship earlier this month in Niagara Falls.
The Storm shut out Ancaster 3-0 in the Hamilton public high school division one final in February, after finishing first during the regular season with a 7-1 record.
Cadogan said the team has had a “fantastic” run this year.
“I thought we would be maybe in the top five or six (at OFSAA),” he said. “You never know year-to-year what other schools are like or how many schools accept players from out-of-catchment just to play sports. Once we got to Sudbury, I really thought we had a chance and we pushed through in a big way.”
Cadogan said Saltfleet will lose some players next season.
“Next year will be a rebuilding year. We will lose nine girls from this team,” he said. “I had told myself that last season was going to be my last year, but I wanted to finish off having the opportunity to coach the same group of girls that I started with. This season capped off a great five-year run.”
Saltfleet is the first public high school in the city to win OFSAA gold in two sports in the same year. The Storm’s senior boys basketball team also won the OFSAA title earlier this month.