Rush hosts with the most after winning ball hockey tourney
The Red Deer TBS Rush were the hosts with the most in the four-team women’s division of the Western Regional ball hockey championship in Red Deer during the weekend.
And they weren’t even supposed to be there.
The Rush, a club team in the Red Deer Women’s Ball Hockey League, were not sanctioned to compete in the Regional but were added to the event at the last minute as a host team.
From there, they wrote a winning script, posting a perfect 3-0 record in round-robin play and downing the Vancouver Vipers 3-2 Sunday at the Red Deer Arena to capture the Western title.
“We weren’t really sure what to expect, we just wanted to come out and play hard,” said Rush captain Laura Solomons, who notched the lone goal of a 10-player shootout that followed a pair of scoreless 10-minute overtime periods. “It was a great opportunity for the team and a lot of fun. Everyone played really hard.”
The Vipers erased a 1-0 deficit with second-half markers from Fran Kelly and Desi Clark, but the Rush got a late power-play goal from Justine Jackson to force overtime. Kathy Desjardins scored Red Deer’s other regulation-time goal.
Solomons was the only TBS player to beat Vipers goaltender Cassidy Hendriks in the shootout, while Rush netminder Amy Friestadt stopped all five Vancouver shooters.
Friestadt, named the top stopper in the tournament, turned aside 29 shots through regulation time and the extra frames. Hendriks made 23 saves.
Desjardins was the top scorer and was also selected as the most valuable player in the tournament.
The Rush, who won the Red Deer League championship and then added two players for the Western Regional, nipped the Vipers 1-0 in round-robin action and also posted 5-0 and 5-4 wins over the Calgary Knockouts and Edmonton Voodoo Dolls. Vancouver was 2-1 in the round robin, while Edmonton and Calgary finished 1-2 and 0-3.
“We knew today’s game was going to be a tough one,” said Solomons. “To go to a shootout in the final was only right because the teams were pretty evenly matched.”
Solomons, who will enter her fifth and final season with the Red Deer College Queens hockey team this fall, is hopeful that the success enjoyed by the Rush during the weekend will help the local city league garner more interest among prospective players.
“I hope it does,” she said. “We have a pretty strong league and it’s getting better. I’ve been playing on this team for seven year and it’s really great how much all of the teams have improved.
“Hopefully this will maybe get some more women to come out and play and grow the league even more.”
The Voodoo Dolls defeated the Knockouts 5-0 in the women’s bronze-medal game.
The Rush will be invited to participate in the Canadian championship next year.
l The men’s Western Regional competition consisted of B, C and D divisions.
The Winnipeg Players beat Edmonton Top Shelf 4-1 in the B final, while the C and D titles went to the Edmonton Edge and Grande Prairie Ballers by virtue of respective 3-2 and 4-2 wins over the Coquitlam, B.C., Sabres and Wainwright Sioux.
No Red Deer teams competed in the men’s divisions.