Cyclones blowing away the competition

Steven Mah
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The South West Cyclones have jumped out to a 10-1 start in league play this season.

The South West Cyclones are off to another great start in the South Sask Female Bantam A Hockey League as they aim for a league championship.

The Cyclones defended their home barn over the weekend with two wins over the visiting Regina Shamrocks to improve to 10-0-1. They now sit second in the nine-team league behind the defending champion Estevan Chargers.

Saturday, the Cyclones scored the first four goals in a 5-2 win. Chelsea Wilson netted a hat trick to lead the Cyclones, while Jenessa Fournier and Morgan Reznechenko added singles. Courtney Bredahl, Laura Fiddler, and Karley Patenaude each added assists. Keara Zoerb picked up the win with 12 saves on 14 shots. Katheryn Neigum held the Shamrocks within striking with 42 saves at the other end.

Sunday, the Cyclones and Shamrocks were tied 1-1 after one period and 2-2 after two periods as Neigum held the Shamrocks in the game with 22 saves in the opening 40 minutes.

Fournier broke the game open with a powerplay goal 3:25 into the third period and then added an insurance marker at the 9:16 mark for a 4-2 win.

Taylor Kirwan had scored in the first period for a 1-0 lead and Wilson scored in the second period for a 2-1 lead.

Reznechenko added two assists, while Fiddler, Courtney Funk, and Shae-Lynn Bauer all added singles. Zoerb made nine saves to add another win to her total. Neigum finished with 37 saves in the Regina goal.

"We started out kind of slow," said head coach Wayne Girodat after Sunday’s victory. "It wasn't the first period I wanted to see out of the girls. The second period we started playing better and the third period I thought we came out and played very well. Shot-wise we dominated them pretty well, we just seem to having a bit of trouble scoring goals this year. Thank god we were able to score a couple goals at the end and come out with the win."

The Cyclones sit comfortably in second spot in their league after the weekend. They also placed second at a tournament in Regina, where they lost to Saskatoon in the final after a flu bug ripped through their line-up.

The Cyclones play their home games in Gull Lake but they are truly a regional team as their name suggests. They have players from Shaunavon, Maple Creek, Cabri, Hazlet, Tompkins, Gull Lake, Ponteix, Morse, Herbert, and Swift Current.

Despite the distance between the players, Girodat said that it has not been difficult to get together for practices and games.

"There is a key group of them that have played together for the last five years, so that has helped. A lot of our girls are playing boys hockey as well so they are seeing lots of ice. We have a good skating team and our forecheck is one of our strong points. We are getting a few more goals out of the girls this year but we still need to find a way to score a few more goals."

He would like to see his team convert a few more of their chances as the season goes along. "Probably the goal scoring, that and preparation for games. We have been having some slow starts so if we can get a full 60 minutes out of them we are okay. If we have that slow start it makes it a little tougher on ourselves. But overall we are pretty happy with the way we have been playing.”

The Cyclones had a first-place showdown with Estevan Chargers to finish their 2013 schedule. The Cyclones had no answer for scoring sensation Megan LeBlanc, who torched them for five goals in a 6-3 loss.

LeBlanc scored an unassisted goal in the first period, the only goal of the opening 40 minutes for a 1-0 Estevan lead heading into the third period.

The two teams combined for eight goals in the third period but Estevan scored three of the first four goals to take a commanding 4-1 lead.

Ashley Taillon made 27 saves on 30 shot in the win for the Chargers, who only dressed 10 skaters.

The Cyclones were also missing players in the marquee match-up but were led by a goal and assist from both Darby-Jane Fletcher and Fournier. Reznechenko also scored, while Fiddler, Wilson, Kirwan, and Bredahl all added assists. Zoerb was tagged with the loss with 15 saves.  

The Cyclones also lost to Estevan last year in the league championship. They have won Provincials three seasons in a row but will have to play one level higher this season after adding Swift Current players to their roster.

"It will be a little tougher this year with going A, but our goal is to hopefully pull off an A Provincial Championship. I think we are going to have a very good shot at winning a league championship as well," said Girodat.

The Cyclones will be on the road this weekend when they visit the Moose Jaw Warriors (6-5-0). They will also host the Regina Tigers (4-4-3) on Sunday at 4:45 p.m. in Gull Lake.

Organizations: South Sask Female Bantam A Hockey League, Regina Tigers, South West Cyclones

Geographic location: Gull Lake, Regina, Swift Current Saskatoon Shaunavon Maple Creek

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