THIBAULT GET SHUTOUT TO SECURES SEMIFINAL BERTH FOR HARFANGS
MORDEN, Man. – Nelly Lapointe’s goal less than two minutes into the first period held up as the game-winner as the Harfangs du Triolet blanked the Pembina Valley Hawks 1-0 on Wednesday at the Esso Cup thanks to a 24-save performance by Michelle Thibault.
Pembina Valley and Triolet both started the game with identical 2-1 records, so the winner would ensure themselves a spot in the semifinals, with a good chance of finishing in second place.
The Harfangs came flying out of the gate, controlling the play deep in the Hawks’ zone. Lapointe, Laurence Drouin and Charlotte Dubuc cycled in the offensive zone, creating space for Lapointe to work her way into the slot. Once there, Dubuc hit her with a hard pass almost immediately, allowing Lapointe to get off a low shot before Hawks goaltender Halle Oswald could get her pad to the post.
The host Hawks struggled to build any momentum after the goal and Triolet peppered Oswald with 15 more shots in the first, all of them turned aside.
In the second period, Oswald’s strong play continued when a shot missed wide and bounced off the boards, nearly deflecting off the goalie’s back and into her own net. But Oswald reached behind her to stop the rolling puck and keep her team within one.
The Harfangs and Hawks exchanged chances, though as the game wore on the majority of the play was in the neutral zone, with neither Triolet or Pembina Valley willing to give an inch on defence.
By the third, this play started to cost Triolet, as it took three straight minor penalties in the first six minutes, which included nearly a minute of 5-on-3 play. Thibault was up to the challenge and the Harfangs' defence ensured the front of the net was clear to avoid deflection or a screen.
In the end, Triolet guaranteed itself a spot in the playoffs. Positioning will be decided after the final games on Thursday.
The Harfangs close out the preliminary round against Prince Albert, at 3:30 p.m. CT. The Bears need a win and some help to get into the semifinals. Pembina Valley can guarantee itself a playoff berth with a win over the Mid-Isle Wildcats at 7 p.m. CT.
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