Kelsey Roberts kept turning around Sunday afternoon to look at the game clock in Kin 2.
“I was hoping the time would go quicker,” said the goalie for the Northern Cougars, as they faced the Fraser Valley Phantoms in the deciding game in the Female Midget AAA provincial championship series..
The last time she turned around, there were 3.6 seconds showing, and she had just come back to the net from a timeout.
The other numbers on the scoreboard were just as important: Home 1 Visitor 0.
“We just wanted to make sure we won the faceoff,” Roberts said after the Cougars did just that and hung on for the 1-0 win and the league title.
Then came the on-ice celebration, as the rest of the team rushed the net.
“Obviously, we were all pretty excited,” she said of disappearing under a pile of her teammates. “This was what we had been working for all year.”
The final game followed the same script as the first two games in the final series, but shorter. The Phantoms won the first game 2-1 in double overtime, before the Cougars won the second game 1-0 in triple overtime. Cougars coach Mario Desjardins said the series played out the way he figured it would – sort of.
“I expected an overtime game at some point, but not double and triple. It was a pretty stressful weekend for the players, the coaches and the fans.”
When that final faceoff came to the left of Roberts, Desjardins felt fairly confident.
“We had been doing a good job on faceoffs all game. I told the girls in the timeout, ‘Win the draw, and shoot the puck down the ice if you can’.”
Roberts had been splitting time in the Cougars net most of the season, but Desjardins and the rest of the coaching staff decided before the final series to give her the full load.
“Kelsey is really on her game now. She needs to be our best player.”
And Roberts repaid that trust with the back-to-back shutouts. In Sunday’s final, she said, it seemed to come easy.
“Everything was kind of hitting me,” she said. “I was able to get good angles, and my teammates were a big part of it. They made sure I could see the shots coming and that there was nobody in front of the net.”
Now, the Cougars face something a little unusual – games on the road. Roberts has to think for a second when asked when their last road games were.
“I guess it was the least games of the regular season, back at the beginning of February.”
That will change next weekend, as the Cougars head to Alberta to face an Edmonton team for the Pacific title and the right to play in the Canadian championships in Red Deer.
“I was actually kind of hoping Red Deer won the Alberta title,” Desjardins said, “because then we would have been guaranteed a spot in the Canadians.”
Now, while he knows who they will be playing, he isn’t sure where.
“The last I heard, they were having trouble finding ice time in Edmonton for the Easter weekend, so they may be looking to play the games in some place like St Albert.”
Roberts says they know a little something about the Edmonton team they’ll be facing.
“We played them twice at a tournament in Fraser Valley. We tied them in the round robin, then they beat us 5-3 in the semifinal.”