Saturday, January 15th at one of the largest female youth hockey tournaments the Whitecaps took on the Manitoba Maple Leafs in a battle of the boarder game. The tournament festivities started out for the Whitecaps players early on Saturday morning working with St. Luke’s Orthopedics & Sports Medicine training tournament participants how to exercise using proper techniques. Jenny Potter was on hand to train the first group on the importance of stretching and flexibility, and brought along her four Olympic medals to share with the youth. Sanya Sandahl and Britt Ralph taught upper body strength with bands along with core stability exercises on the mats. Kelly Blankenship worked with the groups on the proper way to do a squat and lunge and Amy Stech taught how to improve skating techniques by using a band. Each participant went home with a Thera-Band along with a handout on the exercises. The clinics went all day until 4:30, just an hour before warm ups for their game. A local high school band was there to entertain the crowd and create a festive environment. Plenty of youth teams were on hand to watch the game and several teams made signs to inspire their favorite players. The puck dropped at 6:00 pm with native Duluth standout Amy Stech scoring first for the Minnesota Whitecaps with assists going to Jenny Potter and Allie Sanchez. Whitecaps scored again half way through the first period by Briana Jentner’s quick release and fast pass from Gigi Marvin. The second period began with the Whitecaps up 2-0 which was soon to change. Manitoba started the period strong with a goal in the first minute of play with an unassisted goal from Crystal Sager. At the 10 minute mark Allie Thunstrom jetted up the ice receiving a pass from Stech and Potter to give the Whitecaps a 3-1 lead. Two minutes later Manitoba answered back with a high post shot by Chantal Larocque from Melissa Palma. Toward the end of the second period Manitoba found the back of the net again with another goal from Chantal Larocque with assists from Crystal Sager and Melissa Jacques making this a riveting game ending the second period with the score tied 3-3. Conditioning came in to play in the third period. With Manitoba’s short bench and long drive to Duluth that day, they could not continue to keep up with the Whitecaps fast pace. The Whitecaps came out strong with the first goal of the third period by Amy Stech with assists from Jenny Potter and Winny Brodt-Brown. Two minutes later Whitecaps Allie Sanchez took a pass from Megan McCarthy and Jenny Potter to score a power shot giving the Whitecaps a 5-3 lead. Up next on the score board was Whitecaps Allie Thunstrom who accepted a perfect pass from Chelsey Brodt-Rosenthal and sliced it into the back of the net. Not to be denied was Whitecaps Meaghan Pezon, taking a tape to tape pass from Gigi Marvin she deaked the Maple Leafs goalie Melissa Kanzelman for a sweet goal. Manitoba found some room and Crystal Sager took it to the net after accepting the pass from Larocque and Britt Ralph. Using her speed and finesse Thunstrom again received a precise pass from McCarthy and Potter bringing the game score to 8-4 Whitecaps. Allie Thunstrom found Briana Jentner up ice who took it to the net again and with her strong tenacity drove in another goal for the Whitecaps. One more goal for Thunstrom to give her a hat trick for the game came at the six minute mark of the game leaving the score at 10-4 Whitecaps. The remainder of the game continued to be back and forth with most of the shots heading toward the Maple Leafs goalie. Just before the buzzer Manitoba’s Melissa Jacques sneaked one in on Whitecaps goalie and Duluth native Sanya Sandahl ending the game with the score of 10 –5 Whitecaps. Shots for the game on the Maple Leafs were 51 to 22 shots on the Whitecaps. After the game the Icebreakers held a raffle for several items including signed Whitecaps and Maple Leafs jerseys. A meet and greet with autograph signing took place at the Clyde restaurant next door to the Heritage Center.
Whitecaps take to the road next weekend January 21, 22 and 23 when they travel to Strathmore Alberta to take on the Strathmore Rockies. Watch for updates and scores in the local papers and on the Whitecaps twitter and facebook fan page. Next home series is Feb 4, 7:00 pm at VMIA, Feb 5, 7:00 pm at Fogarty Arena, and Feb 6, 12:30 pm at Graham Arena in Rochester.