Dreams come true: Stoney Creek captures Esso Cup title with come from behind victory

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. The Stoney Creek Sabres swarm goaltender Mya Castrillo after the final buzzer of the gold medal game of the 2023 Esso Cup

Throughout the week at the 2023 Esso Cup, the goal song for the Stoney Creek Sabres was the 1981 song You Make My Dreams Come True by Hall & Oates. A season-long dream came to realization for the Stoney Creek Sabres on Saturday afternoon as they came from behind to defeat the Fraser Valley Rush 5-4 in the gold medal game of the 2023 Esso Cup.

Sabres head coach Taylor Abbott says that Stoney Creek faced a lot of challenges throughout their season to make it to Prince Albert.

“This was our goal on day one was to get to the Esso Cup. This team didn’t quit. We persevered through some bad injuries throughout the year. They kept battling, being down two goals going into the third and the team just doesn’t quit because they’re so aggressive”

Fraser Valley would be given an early opportunity on the power play and the Rush would open the scoring 3:16 into the first period.

A point shot would be deflected straight into the air by Stoney Creek goaltender Tara Bach and Leah Barnard would put it home after it landed to give the Rush an early 1-0 lead. Solana Cooper and Aynsley D’Ottavio had assists on the play.

Stoney Creek would knot up the score at the 5:24 mark of the second period as Maren Capannelli would strike with an even strength marker. Chelsea Tiller and Darragh Browne assisted on the play.

Fraser Valley would strike back at the 14:26 mark. Hannah Dods would streak up the right wing and fire a wrist shot that Sabres goaltender Tara Bach couldn’t squeeze. Crashing the net, Jade Lore would put the loose puck into the back of the net to give Fraser Valley a 2-1 lead. Katherine Leroux also had a helper on the play.

The Rush were not done there. Vienna Rubin would fire a shot from the point and the rebound would go straight on the tape of Aynsley D’Ottavio who would make no mistake, doubling the Fraser Valley lead at 3-1 at the 17:10 mark of the second period.

Fraser Valley led the shot clock 20-14 after forty minutes.

Little did everyone in attendance know it, but the third period would go down as one of the most memorable in the hallowed history of the Art Hauser centre.

Stoney Creek came out strong and would cut the Rush lead in half just 1:36 into the final frame. Ashlyn Carter would fire a wrist shot high glove side past Fraser Valley netminder Rebecca Noble. Cailiegh Tiller had the lone assist.

Madison Burr would tie the game for the Sabres at the 9:36 mark with a wrist shot that found the perfect window between the glove and pad of Noble and into the back of the net. Aubrey Morrison had the lone helper.

After an interference call against Fraser Valley’s Mackenzie Galick, the Stoney Creek Sabre power play would go to work. Peyton Anzivino would slip a shot through the pads of Noble to give Stoney Creek their first lead of the contest at the 11:46 mark of the third period. Madison Burr and Caileigh Tiller assisted on the play.

The back-and-forth nature of the game would continue as the Rush would tie the game less than a minute later as Hannah Dods would find the back of the net to even the score at 4-4. Leah Barnard picked up the assist.

With the game tied with less than two minutes to go, Madison Burr split the Rush defense and found the back of the net at the 18:40 mark to give the Sabres a 5-4 lead they would never relinquish.

Burr says having the crazy third period and close finish makes the win so much sweeter for her team.

“I’m so glad it ended up like this. I wanted it to be a close game and make it so much more exciting and I just can’t believe it even happened.”

Abbott says the third period of the gold medal game was the best he had ever been a part of, as a player or coach.

“This one takes the cake and I’m never going to forget this third period that we battled back, got right into it and got the lead and they scored and came back, got the lead again. This is such a special group and I just can’t say enough about them.”

Looking back at her time in Prince Albert at the 2023 Esso Cup, Burr says she will fondly remember the interactions she had with volunteers at the event, as well as the cuisine.

“The volunteers here were insane. They accommodated us so well. Every single one here helped us out with food and everything. Whoever made that food, it’s so good. It was insane. I recommend it. And I just want to thank every single volunteer here.”