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U15 Western Prairie Thunderbolts northern champs, lose prov. final

The South Sask Renegades take the provincial title, leaving the Western Prairie Thunderbolts in second place.

UNITY -- The Western Prairie Thunderbolts, playing in the U15A division of the Saskatchewan Female Hockey League, took their play all the way to the highest level in the province, playing in the league/provincial final.

The Thunderbolts, coached by Amber Sperle, finished the regular season in second place in the north west division, with a 13-5-2 win-loss-tie record.

They met seventh-place Spiritwood Northern Wolves in the first round. Spiritwood tested them early, pushing them to overtime in the third and final game of the series, but Western Prairie scored first to win 4-3 and move on to the next round.

In the second round, against Battlefords’ Northwest Sharks, the Thunderbolts won games 1 and 3 to take the series and move on to play first place Delisle Bruins. They dispatched the Bruins in two straight games to qualify for the northern championships.

In the northern final, against the Warman Wildcats – who had finished second in the north east division – the Western Prairie team again won the series in two straight games.

Playing for the league and provincial titles, they were up against the South Sask Renegades, who are based in Rouleau.

Game 1 was in Unity March 22 and the team from the south got off to a quick start, shutting out the Thunderbolts and scoring three goals of their own to end the first period with a 3-0 lead.

In the second period, it was Ashlyn Brown who shut out the Renegades, while goals from Lundyn Young, assisted by Taryn Pernitsky, and Cortney Tebb, assists to Chloe Dean and Shayla Schmaltz, brought the Thunderbolts to within one. Both goals came during powerplays.

Taryn, assisted by Lundyn, tied the game four minutes into the third period. With three minutes left, the Renegades pulled ahead again on a powerplay goal.

Despite pulling their goalie and several scoring chances, the Bolts were unable to get the puck past the opposing netminder in the last minutes of the game. The end result was a 4-3 loss.

The Western Prairie team then headed to Rouleau March 24 for game 2, which was a tight defensive effort on the part of both teams, but with the Renegades coming out the victors with a 2-1 score.

The goaltenders at both ends of the ice kept the puck out of their nets throughout the first period. In the second, the Thunderbolts struck first, with an unassisted goal from Taryn Pernitsky. The Renegades tied the game up less than two minutes later. In the third, it was the Renegades who got the only marker, thus winning the game.

After the loss had time to settle, Coach Sperle said, “It wasn’t the ending we wanted, but I am so proud of each and every one of these girls, who came together from a huge geographical area. We have made huge strides from the beginning of our season until now, building and growing into a strong competitive team.

“We made it all the way to the provincial final out of 27 teams in the league and won the northern championship. It was a solid, valiant effort in the finals. These girls should hold their heads high and be proud of another excellent season. Second in the province is a huge accomplishment.”

Assistant coaches this year were Wade Dean, Jody Sperle, Aaron Winterhalt and Nick Pernitsky. Jade Bast was the trainer, and Shantelle Missere the manager.