It has been an unforgettable hockey season for a pair of Antigonish County sisters.
And it’s not over yet.
Ella and Kara MacLean are now focussed on having the final chapter in this sibling athletic story include a Canadian crown.
Their team – the Northern Subway Selects – will skate in the Esso Cup, from April 22 to 28, at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre in Bridgewater.
“We have to continue to be positive,” Kara said, when asked about keys to success in the midget ‘AAA” female national championship tournament.
Ella talked about the importance of discipline, including staying out of the penalty box.
“Our team talks about having ‘championship discipline,’” she said.
Head coach Troy Reid said having a balanced attack, which has been central to their success, will be crucial.
“There are teams where you can key on a couple players, but that is difficult to do against us,” he said.
Reid added “we need to get off to a good start.”
The Selects will open against a familiar foe – Metro Boston Pizza – who they defeated 3-1 in the best-of-five Nova Scotia Female Midget Hockey League (NSFMHL) final series.
“It will be a tough one,” Kara said, as Ella nodded in agreement, of their rivals, who are serving as tournament hosts.
Beyond that match-up, the Selects were waiting for their other opponents to be determined, with champions still to be crowned from other provinces.
“We will have homework to do and we will have to bear down,” Reid said of preparations.
Although they have played together with Team Nova Scotia, this is the first time the MacLean sisters have laced up their blades for a regular season.
It is their first campaign with the Selects.
“Ella is a big, strong and offensively gifted ‘D’ with a lot of skill,” Reid said of the elder sibling.
He described her as a “go-to person” on the power play.
“She has a heavy shot that is really effective,” Reid said of the 16-year-old.
As for Kara, who is playing in an underage season, he described her as “an exceptional talent.”
“Since the start of the year, she has gotten better and better,” he said, adding the 14-year-old has “skills beyond her years.”
“Kara is a tremendous team player, who is always looking for her teammates,” Reid added.
Ella and Kara – Grade 11 and 9 students, respectively, at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School – when asked about the strengths of their respective games, focused more on praising each other’s talents.
“We know each other’s game,” Ella said of their sisterly on-ice connection.
The older sister, who has committed to play at the university level with the Maine Black Bears, like Reid, talked about her shot.
“I think that is one of my strengths,” Ella said.
She also noted her ability to “create offense.”
“She is really steady and wins a lot of one-on-one battles,” Kara added.
Ella returned the complimentary favour when her younger sister, modestly, downplayed her scoring prowess.
“I try to contribute as much as I can, offensively,” Kara said.
Ella noted Kara was the leading scorer in both the provincial and Atlantic championships.
“She has been great this season,” she said.
Shining on the Rock
With the MacLean sisters at the forefront, the Selects secured their spot at nationals by capturing the 2018 Atlantic Female Midget ‘AAA’ Hockey Championship banner with a dominating performance late last month in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador.
In the gold medal match-up, Kara contributed three points, including two goals, in a 7-1 victory over the league-rival Northern Lightning, while Ella notched an assist.
The NSFMHL champions outscored their opponents 35-8 in posting a perfect 5-0 record, including four round-robin victories.
In a 7-1 win over the Western Warriors, Kara tallied a hat-trick and one assist.
Each sister scored three points, including two goals apiece, in a 9-1 decision over the Eastern Ice Breakers.
In a 10-5 round-robin win over their title game opponent, Kara tallied five points, including four goals, while Ella added a goal and an assist.
“I think we will be ready to compete for the championship,” Ella said of the upcoming Esso Cup.
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