Pursuit of Excellence players jumped into a dog pile after the final buzzer during the CSSHL female prep championship game in Penticton on Thursday. POE defeated Okanagan Hockey Academy 6-3. Mark Brett/Western News

Pursuit of Excellence defeats OHA in female prep hockey final

Okanagan Hockey Academy lost to Pursuit of Excellence 6-3 at the CSSHL final in Penticton

They were the only team to defeat the Pursuit of Excellence during the regular season, but the Okanagan Hockey Academy couldn’t crack them in the CSSHL final.

“We had faith that we could beat them, we all believed it, but the hockey gods weren’t on our side,” said OHA defenceman Lyndsy Acheson (Summerland).

The OHA female prep team lost 6-3 as POE’s Stephanie Markowski (Edmonton, Alta.) scored twice and set up two others.

“We knew it was going to be a battle but we stayed on top of them. They are a tough team and we had to keep putting on the pressure,” said POE forward Elizabeth Klimm (West Kelowna). “In those last couple of minutes, I had butterflies. I still have them. We all just jumped onto the ice and into a big dog pile when the buzzer went. I was on the bottom and it was just so awesome. I am still shaking.”

Penalties played a factor in the match against the two top regular season teams. Okanagan went two for five on the power play, while POE found the back of the net on three of their five power play chances.

Pursuit jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes and then held a 4-2 lead going into the final frame.

Female Prep Freshman of the Year Anne Cherkowski (Coldstream) added a goal and three assists for POE, while Dara Greig (Lethbridge, Alta.) chipped in with a goal and two helpers. Danielle Serdachny (Edmonton, Alta.) and Jordan Mortlock (Medicine Hat, Alta) rounded out the scoring for POE.

The POE also earned the regular season banner, finishing with a 20-0-1 record.

“They are a really good team and have some great individual players. They got a couple of power plays that they capitalized on. Pucks just weren’t bouncing our way,” said OHA’s Sophie Lalor (Penticton), who will be attending the University of Saskatchewan next season.

Reece Hunt (Nelson) factored in on all three Okanagan goals, finishing with a goal and two assists, while Megan Wilson (Calgary, Alta.) and Kailee Skinner (Penticton) each added a power-play marker. Cassie Shokar (Surrey) made 33 saves in the loss.

“We started the year as sort of the underdogs. We had a lot of new girls coming in … but we came a long way. We really bonded together and I think we are the best team here, no matter what happened today,” said Lalor.

Pursuit of Excellence kicked off the tournament with a 10-0 win over Banff. They then defeated Edge School 7-2 and poured on more offence against Northern Alberta, beating them 7-3 in the semifinal.

“I knew from the very start of the season we had a really strong group of girls with a lot of skill,” said POE forward Sydney Neustaeter (Lake Country). “Everyone played amazing here and stepped up in different games in this tournament.”

Okanagan Hockey Academy opened their tournament with a 3-1 win over Shawnigan. Shokar earned a shutout as OHA defeated Northern Alberta in their second preliminary game. They then defeated Delta 4-1. In the semifinal Sarah Paul (Kelowna), Adrianna Kobyleckyj (Washingtonville, New York) and Kassy Betinol (Okotoks, Alta.) secured their berth to the final with a 3-1 win over Edge School.



kristi.patton@pentictonwesternnews.com
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