Saturday, 6 February 2021

The Pandas And Flames For Gold

This is the big game that all sixteen teams were gunning for when the tournament opened on January 30, 2020. Only two teams stood at the end as the Edmonton Pandas and St. Mary's Academy Flames stood across the from one another, locked eyes, and prepared for battle. For Edmonton, it was their first trip to the final, but would represent a second-straight year an AFHL team played in the final after the Lloydminster Steelers captured the gold medal one year earlier. For St. Mary's, it was their third-straight appearance in the final after capturing the bronze in 2017, gold in 2018, and silver in 2019.

Before we get to the game, we have another update on a player's career! Rylee Martin of the Westman Wildcats is off to Fremont, Nebraska for 2021-22 as she joins the Midland University Warriors as per their release yesterday! For those wondering, Fremont is about 40 minutes northwest of downtown Omaha, and the Warriors play in the ACHA where Rylee will now square off against a few players she used to call teammates when the Warriors meet up with the Minot State University Beavers. Her work at the 2020 Female World Sport School Challenge saw Rylee finish the tournament with a goal and two assists. Congratulations, Rylee, on accepting a spot with the Warriors, and here's hoping you find a ton of success at the school!

It should be noted that the Pandas did get home-ice advantage in this game due to having the better record between the two teams in pool play as Edmonton finished 3-0 while St. Mary's finished 2-1. Both teams finished atop their respective pools, but that home-ice advantage gave the Pandas the all-important last change in the gold-medal game. Would it help in their quest for gold?

If you skipped the first games featuring these two teams, let's run down the players that both programs should be proud of developing who have moved onto the university level to continue their hockey careers.

The Pandas should be proud to see Sydney Olsen and Shaelyn Hopkins join the MacEwan Griffins, Megan Long join the Regina Cougars, Chloe Reid joins the Trinity Western Spartans, Elise Hugens and Jacquelyn Fleming join the UBC Thunderbirds, and Sage Taylor will stay close to home by joining the Alberta Pandas. In NCAA news, Emerson Jarvis will join the Ohio State Buckeyes while Emma Hebert will take her talents to Union College. ACAC news sees Payton Basterash join the ACAC's NAIT Ooks while Alexandra Black and Natalie Buttle both join the Red Deer College Queens.

The St. Mary's Academy Flames also boast a pile of players who play at the university level, and they should be proud to have developed Emily Shippam, Meagan Relf, Aimee Patrick, Ashley Keller, and Jessica Haner who will all suit up for the Manitoba Bisons, Nicole Black who will skate for the Calgary Dinos, Kate Bumstead and Lainie Nichols who skate for the Trinity Western Spartans, and Chloe Oleksiuk who will suit up for the AUS' StFX X-Women. In NCAA news, Reese Chuback will skate for the Union College Dutchwomen while former Flames defender Gabi Dawyduk opted for a scholarship with the NCAA D-II Minot State University Beavers to pitch for their softball program!

This game could have been a preview of future Canada West netminders as the Pandas started Elise Hugens, who will play for the UBC Thunderbirds, while the Flames started Meagan Relf, who will play for the Bisons, for the gold medal. The speed, the skill, the intensity, and the fun of this game was on display as these two squads went end-to-end up and down the ice. Six goals would be scored in this game, and the final result was well-earned in one of the best games seen at the 2020 Female World Sport School Challenge.

The same weird audio issues that plagued the first period of yesterday's semifinal game also infiltrated the gold-medal game broadcast in the first period. The good news is that we didn't miss any goals in this one as we pick this game up prior to the second period with the Pandas and Flames tied 0-0. I will also apologize to Elise Hugens as we were not given pronunciation information on her last name, so please don't kill us if we butchered your last name.

Bryan "Svenny" Sveinson is back for more fun as he brings his incredible insight to the gold-medal match, and you can hear my voice a little strained after calling what felt like 240 games over four days. Enjoy this gold-medal game that took place on Sunday, February 2 matchup between the St. Mary's Academy Flames and the Edmonton Pandas from the 2020 Female World Sports School Challenge from the BellMTS Iceplex in Winnipeg!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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