“We were right there. We were one goal away from getting to the final. They played great. In my eyes, we outplayed everyone we played where it just came down to goaltending which is what I thought with key saves at key times,” said Ryan Rombough, head coach of the Taber Oil midget girls hockey team. “Lennae (Wong), getting two shutouts at provincials, she did exactly what I thought she would do for us. As a team we played hard. We had our chances, it was that last game, the hockey gods were not on our side. Their winning goal was off the face-off and was a lucky bounce that found a way to get into the net.”
The Oil started its provincial run in dominating fashion with a 6-2 win over Beaverlodge Blades. Keegan Brantner had two goals in the contest with Hannah Horvath notching a single to go with two assists. Kendall Enns, Brooke Capner, and Jayden Goodstriker rounded out the goal scoring for the Oil.
“The girls came out flying that game,” said Rombough.
Oil moved on to battle host Lloydminster in which Wong recorded the shutout in a 2-0 win along with Horvath and Genna Wright helping the cause scoring goals.
“It was a pretty tight affair and Lennae was as solid as ever in goal,” said Rombough.
Unfortunately, some illness swept through the Oil roster for the team’s third game against St. Albert Rush in a 5-2 loss that made for a must-win situation to earn a crossover playoff berth.
Goodstriker and Taylor Brandics tallied for the Oil.
“Two of our players couldn’t play. Brooke Capner got the flu which was one of our key players as a Grade 12. Kendall Enns also got sick with the stomach flu. We lost two girls that would normally put some heat on their opponents. But they had a very mature team, they had a lot of ‘96 or graduating players,” said Rombough. “We were right in that game too, the score didn’t really show it. They had one period where they really took it to us.”
It made for an all-in game to escape pool play into the playoffs as the Oil got involved in a goaltending duel with Wong emerging victorious in a 1-0 win over Edmonton Warriors as Enns scored the game winner with assists from Brandics and Horvath.
“That was against a six-foot-five goalie. She was huge and intimidating, but Kendall Enns found a way to beat her upstairs,” said Rombough.
The Oil had a 2-1 lead against the Lacoka Rockets in the provincial semifinal where one rough shift by Taber proved the difference.
“We had one rough shift where their umber-one line was pretty good with one girl who really controlled the play and they pounded in two in one shift on us and took the lead,” said Rombough. “But then we scored on a breakaway and then they scored on a fluke where it bounced in the right spot and found a hole. But the girls didn’t quit, we were all over them. We couldn’t find the equalizer, but we definitely had our chances.”
Goodstriker scored twice and Enns had a single.
The loss brought the Oil’s season to an end which had plenty of positives to it including a league championship banner and a huge imprint on provincials.
“Overall, out of 10 teams (at provincials) and really those four final teams were oh so comparable. It was going to come down to who got the breaks. All four teams were comparable with goals for and against and from what I saw, skills were comparable. All four teams had good goaltending and defence,” said Rombough where Cold Lake Jaguars would end up beating Lacoka Rockets 7-6 in overtime to take the provincial banner.
“We are so proud of the girls. They bought into the system and played their hearts out. They stuck to the game plan and left everything on the ice,” said Rombough.