The Green Beasts just weren’t themselves on Thursday. They were noisy.
Excitement of the game brought out cheers from their usually reserved bench as the Beasts beat the Red Dragons 5-4 in a shootout in the final of the Whitehorse Women’s Hockey Association league at Takhini Arena.
“We’re probably the quietest team ever,” said Beasts captain Joelle Hodgins. “No one expects that cheering, anyone being loud at all. So I could tell we were excited. I think that’s the loudest any of us have ever been. I’m probably going to lose my voice for the next hour.
“All the other teams make fun of us because we don’t cheer, we don’t scream. We’re too intense, I guess.”
Both teams were buzzing from the puck-drop to beyond the final horn as four one-goal leads slipped back into ties and the game passed through overtime into a shootout.
Of the six shooters, only Beasts centre Laura Grieve found the back of the net in the shootout, on a fake-left, go-right move.
Grieve also tied the game 4-4 with 1:37 left in regulation, breaking through the Dragons’ defence and burying it upstairs.
“We were all just trying really hard, even to get what shots we could on the net,” said Grieve. “I just ended up getting a good break on the last goal.
“It was a good turning point for us. The team got really pumped.”
“We knew they were going to come out strong on us, and we were just all pumped and just wanted to give it our best every single shift,” added Grieve. “All season we were a quiet team. We just wanted to call for the puck, get out there, be the first to the puck. We knew we had to skate really hard against them. They’re a tough team.”
Grieve finished the regular season in second for goals with 31 and fourth overall in points with nine assists.
“Laura has been top-scorer the whole way through. We do a lot of depending on her,” said Hodgins.
The Red Dragons went into the playoffs as the heavy favourites in first place with a 29-5-2 record. The Beasts, who finished the regular season in second, went in 18-13-5.
“I think we were a little hesitant because we had a lot of pressure,” said Dragons captain Danielle Hodgson. “I look at it like another season game. We had an awesome season, we played really well, and maybe we lost the last game of the season, but I’m still really proud of all the girls. They all improved as individuals and as a team.”
The Green Beasts entered the final through the bottom half of the bracket after taking a 2-1 loss to the Dragons two days before the final. Krystal McKenna got the game-winner for the Red squad.
The Beasts defeated Blue Rodeo 2-1 last Wednesday to get into the final. Grieve and Hannah Woodwalker scored for the Beasts and Stephanie Hedley scored for Blue Rodeo, who finished third in the league with the loss.
The Beasts let slip three one-goal leads over the first two periods of the final. Katherine MacKellar scored the first two and Christine Kirk had the third. MacKellar also assisted the tying goal in the third period.
“Katherine MacKellar is just awesome at getting in there for the rebound,” said Hodgins.
Red Dragons Nicole Petersen finished with a hat trick and assisted her team’s first goal from Hodgson. Hodgson was the league’s points leader in the regular season with 32 goals and 21 assists.
“I put a lot on her shoulders this game because the last game I took a bit of a fall and hurt my back, so it was a little painful for me to skate this game,” said Hodgson of Petersen. “I guess she took it seriously, went out there and made me proud.”
Beasts goalie Amy Gill got the win, stopping all three Red players in the shootout.
“She was almost too sick to play, so we’re so excited she made it,” said Hodgins. “(It was a) last minute decision to come out and try anyway and she held through.”
“That was an amazing game. That was a faster game than I think we’ve had all season, in any of the tournaments, in any of the games,” she added. “It was awesome. Everyone played so well, from beginner to advanced. No single person was holding everything up.”
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