The Esso cup features the top 6 teams from across the country vying for a chance to be crowned the best team in Canada. Hosting this year is Sudbury, (ranked 3rd in the nation) who get a spot for hosting the tournament.
The Northern Lightning, from Atlantic region, is the only other team to punch their ticket so far.
Once again the St.Albert Slash and Greater Vancouver Comets will battle for hockey supremacy and a spot in the Esso cup.
Make it an X, make it an O, make it a three in a row for both teams in their provincial tournaments.
St.Albert hosted the 2019 Alberta Provincials and won out going 4-0 in the tournament, defeating the Calgary Fire 5-1 in the final.
Captain Madison Willan, lead the playoffs in scoring with 4-7-11.
Greater Vancouver also went 4-0 in their provincials defeating the Fraser Valley Rush, sweeping them in two games to claim top spot for the third straight year.
Jennifer Gardiner, who is a gold medal winner for Canada at the U-18’s lead the tournament in scoring as well with 4-8-12.
Each year the top spot out of BC and Alberta is decided in a 3 game series between the winners of their respective provincials. Three years in a row now it will be St.Albert vs Greater Vancouver.
For the past two years its the Slash who have had the better of the Comets winning both previous three game series, 2-0 (2017) and 2-1 (2018)
Greater Vancouver Comets
This year the Comets (ranked 6th in the country) will look to avenge themselves and emerge victorious on enemy soil. It’s as wide open as any year and the Comets have some astronomical firepower on their squad.
They are lead by the duo of Jennifer Gardiner, Jenna Buglioni, each of whom averaged over two points per game.
Gardiner: 37-43-80, 30GP
Buglioni: 41-34-75, 32GP
Secondary scoring is also not an issue, the Comets had nine players over a PPG including defensemen Devynn Dion who had 8-31-39 in 32 games. Thanks to their balanced scoring the Comets lead the country with a +176 goal differential.
All that combined with immaculate goaltending from Jordyn Verbeek, (19-0) and Haley McLeod, (7-0) is what propelled the Comets to perfect 36-0 season (including playoffs).
ST ALBERT SLASH
The Slash are the two time defending Esso Cup champions and each time the Road to the Esso has started with a 3 game series against Vancouver.
To date the Slash have had the better of the Comets but last year Vancouver had them on the ropes forcing a winner-takes-all game 3 in which St.Albert escaped with a 1-0 victory courtesy of a goal off the stick of Madison Willan.
The Slash went 30-3-1 over the course of the entire season and had the top four scorers during the regular season; Willan, Bogden, Kodic and Goodwin.
Willan: 24-27-51 in 30GP
Bogden: 16-16-32 in 28GP
Currently ranked 2nd in the country, St.Albert did one of the best jobs of keeping the puck out of their net, only being scored on 26 times in 30 games.
In net it will be Brianna Sank for St.Albert who went 13-2-1 over the season with a .81GA, 96SV% and 9 shutouts.
Backing her up is Holly Borrett who also had herself a spectacular season going 13-1-0 with a .86GAA, 94SV% and 6 shutouts.
After playing one another three years in a row you start to get a feel for you opponent. I expect fireworks from the start to be met by exceptional defence and goaltending. These are two teams that have proved near impossible to defeat. St.Albert will lean heavy on their top lines and D corps lead by Taylor Anker while Vancouver comes in waves on the attack. It’s going to come down to which team wants it more and who can make adjustments faster in what is a highly anticipated heavy weight matchup.
What happens when an unmovable force meets an unmovable object?
Find out this weekend.
HOW TO WATCH
Game 1: 7:30pm @ the Akinsdale Arena, St.Albert
Game 2: 7:30pm @ the Akinsdale Arena, St.Albert
Game 3: (if necessary) 2:30pm @ the Akinsdale Arena, St.Albert
Can’t make it to the games? LINK HERE: https://youtu.be/E5MAKuRaeyw
Live game coverage is an ICU video productions PROCAST and i’ll have your game call all weekend.
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