Slash trails playoff series

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Thunder wins game three; leads best-of-five north final 2-1

It’s a make-or-break weekend for the St. Albert Slash in the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League playoffs.

The host team for the 2011 Esso Cup must beat the Edmonton Thunder today and Sunday for a shot at the league championship.

Game four in the best-of-five north division final goes today at 4:45 p.m. at Performance Arena. Game five is Sunday at 2 p.m. at Castledowns Arena.

Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Thunder at Castledowns left the Slash teetering on the brink of elimination.

“They battled hard but came up short,” said head coach Terry Sydor.

Nearly eight minutes into the game, the Slash struck first with a goal scored off a break by Jessica Kampjes. Haley Kuzyk and captain Melissa Kueber assisted on Kampjes’ third goal in five playoff games.

The Thunder answered back less than five minutes later, as Kirsten Reeves scored unassisted.

After a scoreless second, the Thunder capitalized on a five-on-three power play, as Cassidy Delainey notched the game winner with 2:18 gone in the third.

“The five on three kind of lost us the game because it let in the winning goal and changed the whole momentum,” said Slash goaltender Chloe Sanderson, who stopped 33 shots in the loss. “We need to try harder and stay out of the box.”

The Slash came close to netting the equalizer, but Thunder goaltender Morgan Glover (19 saves) pulled off some impressive stops.

“It’s frustrating. We just have to get the puck to the front of the net as much as possible,” said Kampjes. “We didn’t match their shots but we will [this weekend].”

Outshot by a margin of 15 while falling short on the scoreboard, fatigue may have taken its toll on the Slash.

“It’s a mid-week game with a late start and they are high school kids. It’s the same for both teams but some athletes handle it better then others,” said Sydor. “We have some girls who have a fair distance to travel as well and those types of things all become factors.”

The Thunder opened the series with a 4-1 victory in Edmonton and the Slash tied it up at home 3-2.

“The checking’s tighter and the games are much more intense. There is a lot more pressure out there and you need some goals to win,” said Sydor.

With their championship chances potentially on the line, he expects the Slash rise to the challenge.

“Certainly after winning [the Thunder]will be excited, but our girls took this loss very hard and they will put a lot of emotion into it.”

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