Alysha Letwin posts shutout in 3-0 win over Jean Vanier Storm in Barrie
Surrounded by her team, Jean Vanier Storm coach Liz Payton tries to rally her troops during a timeout in the third period against the St. Joseph’s Jaguars during high-school girls playoff action on Wednesday at the East Bayfield Community Centre in Barrie. The Jaguars would take the win, 3-0. MARK WANZEL/PHOTO
In the playoffs, goaltending is always a big factor.
For the St. Joseph's Jaguars, theirs was the difference maker.
Alysha Letwin stood tall, picking up a shutout as the girls hockey team blanked the Jean Vanier Storm 3-0 on Wednesday.
“Our goalie, big time,” said Lauren Osborne when asked why her team won. “If we didn't have our goalie, we would probably be in a lot of (trouble).”
The semifinal for the Catholic School Athletics of Simcoe County also acted as a play-in game for the upcoming Georgian Bay Secondary School Association's championships, meaning that the Jaguars, along with the top-seeded Patrick Fogarty Flames, will be playing for a spot in the provincial tournament.
“We were short players in this game, but we still tried our best,” Osborne said. “It worked out for us.
“We were pumped and ready to go in the change room.”
Neither St. Joseph's nor Jean Vanier could get much footing early, with Osborne and the Storm's Taya Walker missing wide on their best attempts.
Letwin turned aside Walker and Delaney Pritchard as she began to settle in.
“I felt pretty calm and I wasn't too nervous,” Letwin said. “I played some pretty good games before this, so I was confident.
“After the first couple of shots, I was in the right mindset.”
That pair would go to work on the power play, moving the puck along the right side before Pritchard found an opening, but Letwin stayed big in her butterfly to deny the high shot.
At the other end, Osborne was carrying some intel on the Storm's starting netminder.
“I know their goalie, and she's actually a defenceman,” Osborne said. “She was standing straight up, so you kind of knew just to put the puck at her feet, because no one plays hockey with their feet.”
Osborne got the puck from Kileigh Harrington and although the didn't get all of her shot, it was enough for it to under trickle under the netminder and give St. Joseph's a 1-0 lead.
“It definitely got my line going,” Osborne said. “Our communication got a lot better and our skating got a lot better.
“We were feeling a little more confident after that.”
Just 21 seconds later, Gillian Van Iderstine forced a turnover at the hash marks and backhanded a shot along the ice and in to make it 2-0 Jaguars.
“That took a lot of pressure off of me,” Letwin said. “If they'd have gotten the first one on me, that could have changed everything.
“I was playing pretty well, so with a two-goal lead, I felt pretty confident.”
With the Storm now trailing by two, they upped their offensive pressure.
During a power play, Jean Vanier would set up Lily Dennis at the point for five shots, although only one would hit the net, forcing a low stop by Letwin.
Then, the Grade 12 goalie denied Fiona McMaster from the slot.
St. Joseph's would give itself some more breathing room while still on the penalty kill when Osborne outraced the Storm defender to the puck and cut across the middle, backhanding a shot home to give the Jaguars a 3-0 advantage.
Jean Vanier would pull the goalie late and nearly got on the board, when McMaster tipped a shot that Letwin got a piece of with her glove before hitting the post.
The Jaguars would clear the puck and run out the clock for a big semifinal win.
“We were just trying to keep it deep and out of our end,” Osborne said. “We didn't want to give them any opportunities.”
While their place in the GB's is booked, the Jaguars, who had two lines on Wednesday, will still be looking to grab the Catholic-board title when they take on Patrick Fogarty next week.
“I don't think we've had a full team for one game,” Osborne said. “If we pull everyone together, we'll have a chance of taking it.”