The East Central Fillies skated off with the provincial U18 women’s gold medals in the Saskatchewan U18 Female Hockey League after a dramatic back and forth series against Milestone. The tenacious team kept finding ways to dig back from challenges, especially in Sunday’s game three that saw lead changes, a near catastrophic equipment failure, and some last minute penalty kill heroics.
The series opened with a 3-2 Fillies win in LeRoy. The team made a habit of being the “comeback kids” with their opponents opening the scoring and the Fillies having to contend with the damage.
The second game in Milestone saw the Fillies down early and never recover, falling to Milestone 5-1. Fillies’ coach Murray Ehlert says the opening goals by Milestone took the wind out of the sails for the Fillies, who were able to reply with only one goal.
That brought the best of three back to the LeRoy Arena for one final battle. Again the Fillies’ struggled to find their footing in the first frame allowing Milestone the first marker. However, as they had done in the opening game, the East Central squad steeled up its resolve.
“To be honest, we got out of the first period 1-0, and in the second period, we kind of flipped the script,” says assistant coach Brian Politeski. “We won the period and tied it up 2-2.”
That led to the dramatic, story book third period. In some penalty trouble and working hard on the kill, the team’s captain and Coach Ehlert’s daughter, Meikka Ehlert, skated to the bench reporting some equipment trouble. Indeed, her skate had blown a series of rivets along the side, rendering the skate useless and effectively knocking her out of the game.
The girls quickly “McGyvered” a solution using a spare skate lying in the dressing room belonging to defensive teammate Paige Haskey. Unfortunately the skate proved bigger than the one Ehlert had been wearing.
“They were three sizes too big for her, so I tied them as tight as I could,” recounts Ehlert. “She walked back toward the bench, and the other coach saw that she was available and said ‘Get on,” and she got on and scored in about five seconds with those strange skates. That doesn’t happen very often.”
The old skate did the trick as Milestone wasn’t able to respond, giving the Fillies the 3-2 win.
The Fillies coaching staff used their depth to their advantage, rotating their three lines against Milestone’s two. In the end, that war of attrition saw the Fillies gaining traction by the end of the game.
“We put the team together in September, just trying to get enough girls to ice a team,” says Politeski, but the team gelled and worked hard throughout the season. Their third game, like their season, was a testament to both their hard work and a spirit resolved never to give up until the final whistle. That’s why the East Central Fillies are the champions of the Saskatchewan U18 Female Hockey League.