In sports, it’s not uncommon for a heavily-hyped game to fail to live up to expectations (look no farther than last year’s Super Bowl).
Sports fans live for big games and relish the ones that not only live up to their advance billing, but also exceed even the loftiest expectations. We all love those “I was there for that one” moments in sports.
The Stick Breakers and the Chicks With Sticks gave the fans exactly that: a game for the ages that exceeded all hopes for a “good game” by light years.
Unlike the first Super Bowl, the inaugural Women’s final was played before a large and rowdy crowd in the Correlieu Secondary School gym on Wednesday (April 30).
Hollering, stomping feet and pounding on garbage cans, the assembled fans created an electric atmosphere for the game. Both the Stick Breakers and the Chicks With Sticks, already bristling with nervous energy, could hardly contain themselves through the playing of “Oh Canada” to open the contest.
From the drop of the ball, the pace was dizzying, with both teams digging for every loose ball and contesting every shot. Nobody took a shift off; nobody gave an inch.
The Chicks With Sticks opened the scoring, only to have the Stick Breakers quickly knot the affair at one. The frenzied pace continued as the first half wore down, with the teams swapping goals yet again to set the halftime score at a nail-biting 2-2.
Both sides regrouped at the half, and it was the Chicks With Sticks who came out guns blazing to start the second period. Two quick goals seemed to tilt the floor in their favour as they held a seemingly commanding 4-2 lead with about five minutes to play.
Undaunted and unfazed, the Stick Breakers began to chip away – one shift at a time – making the score 4-3 with just over two minutes left in regulation.
Just when it didn’t feel possible to ratchet up the intensity any further, a flurry of high-quality chances led to the tying goal bulging the twine with little more than a minute left in regulation time.
Despite the heroics of Chicks With Sticks backstop Makenna Maxwell, this one was headed for overtime.
Don Cherry is fond of telling and retelling that most overtime games are decided in the first minute. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and Grapes read the tea leaves on how this one was going to end perfectly.
Fans had hardly settled back into the bleachers for overtime when Amelia Musselman led a furious rush up the floor and potted the overtime winner past Maxwell. A game for the ages was over with less than a minute gone in the extra frame.
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat were on full display for all to see in the seconds after the winner rippled the mesh, as the Stick Breakers mobbed one another at centre floor, while the Chicks With Sticks huddled around a crestfallen Maxwell to congratulate her on a battle well fought.
Scoring for the Stick Breakers in the win were Ashley Carter, Camryn Klassen and Lillian Beuschel, with Amelia Musselman potting a pair, including the overtime winner. Rachael Paley was strong between the pipes for the champions.
Notching goals for the Chicks With Sticks in a losing effort were Tatum Mueller, Daniel Gamache and Ashley Langille, who posted a pair. Makenna Maxwell was nothing short of heroic in defeat, making save after save all game long.
Thanks for the memories ladies; it was truly a game for the ages.