Jan 28, 2017 | Sportsgate | 167 views
JRs Win Playoff Spot
Milestone goals for forward Melanie Young and defenceman Allison Carswell helped the Kingston Jr. Ice Wolves achieve a milestone as a team on Saturday. While Young of North Bay and Carswell of Port Perry scored their first Provincial Women's Hockey League goals in Kingston’s 2-1 overtime win over the Ottawa Lady Sens, the victory secured a first-ever playoff berth for the five-season-old franchise.
Kingston, which improved to 15-13-2-3 for 35 points and sits 11th in league standings after the 2-1 win at the Invista Centre, is guaranteed to be among the league's top 16 teams that will qualify for post-season play. While not a specific goal for the team heading into the season, making the playoffs is a product of what has been an accumulation of team goals, said head coach Troy Sweet. “Our team goals set prior to the season were more associated with focusing every day to do the little things really well: commitment, working hard, playing and competing for one another in a fun and safe environment,” he said. “We knew if we strived to continually improve every day, the results at the end of the day would be the ones we wanted and deserved. The results would look after themselves.”The Ice Wolves clinched the playoff spot in dramatic fashion. After more than two and a half scoreless periods of play, Ottawa broke the double shutout on a goal by Dani Sorel at 13:11 of the third. With the clocking ticking down into the final minute of play in the third, the Ice Wolves pulled goaltender Kathryn Jalink in favour of an extra attacker. Young, with 54 seconds left to play, scored to send the game into overtime, where Carswell ended it at 3:46. Both teams had 28 shots on goal in the game, with Ottawa holding a 3-2 advantage in overtime.Young is a North Bay Bolts midget AA player who has committed to play with the Ice Wolves next season. It was her second game as a Kingston call-up this season, having also played with the Ice Wolves, in Barrie, two weeks ago. “She will be the first-ever player to billet to play on our hockey club,” Sweet said. “We are all very excited to have her next season. Melanie travelled five hours Saturday to come play for us and played a huge role in our OT win.”The Ice Wolves have five games left in the regular season, with the next one coming Thursday night in Ajax at 8:10 p.m. against the Durham West Lightning. It will be Kingston's final road game of the season. Sweet said a lot of good things have contributed to the Ice Wolves’ run to the playoffs, including “having absolutely amazing young ladies all come together to reach one common goal and put their teammates ahead of any individual.”“This is truly a team that plays, competes and sticks together through the ups and downs of the season,” Sweet said. “It is a pleasure to coach and have these young ladies a part of our hockey club. “We have girls that travel two and a half hours for all practices, games, etc., without missing a day, nor does any local player. They strive for excellence every day and they have started a very important process for our hockey club and setting up future teams for great potential success. “Our support systems, with our trainers, assistant coaches, manager and all parent volunteers, have been huge, giving these young ladies everything they need to compete day in and day out. As you know, it takes everyone involved to perform every day to get the results we expect. “I feel we have all become a very close ‘hockey family’.”Depth has a been a team strength this season. The Ice Wolves boast three double-digit goal scorers for the first time, and have a team-record 10 players with seven points or better, led by five-year veteran and career leader in all offensive categories Brianna Gaffney, who set a single-season franchise points record when she collected her 33rd point (12G, 21A) on Jan. 15. Kingston’s top-scoring team was the original squad in 2012-13, which netted 76 in 38 games. Currently, the Ice Wolves have scored 63 times in 33 games, putting them slightly off that pace. Defensively, the team has never been this miserly. Jalink and Whitney Morton have allowed just 62 goals against, and both sport goals-against averages lower than 1.80 (1.77 and 1.79, respectively). The team’s previous record for fewest goals against was 109 last season, with the same goaltending tandem. “Definitely the depth has been key as we have struggled with key injuries this year,” Sweet said. “We have had amazing support from Brent White's bantam AA team in Kingston along with Chris Wyburn's midget AA team also in Kingston.“The outstanding players they have allowed our team to use as call-ups have had a huge impact on our success to date. Both those coaches have done a tremendous job in developing these young ladies to be able to have immediate impact on our hockey club.”