The Diamond Energy Female Midget AAA Wildcats earned a resounding road sweep of the Battlefords Sharks to kick off the new year.
Swift Current won 5-2 on Saturday, then cruised to a 10-1 smacking of the Sharks on Sunday.
"After the Christmas break and us having a really tough schedule the first half of the year, it was important for us to just start the new year off on the right foot," said Wildcats head coach Terry Pavely on what turned out to be the case to start 2019.
"We thought we were trending the right way, and we played Saskatoon real tough before the break. Not that we want to say we have an easy second half, but we have an opportunity, if we play the right way 60 minutes night in, night out, to hopefully make up some ground."
The Wildcats fell behind Saturday, trailing the Sharks 2-1 after 20 minutes, but came back with two-goal second and two-goal third frames.
Sara Kendall ripped two goals in the game, with Maddy McCleary adding a goal and an assist, and Taylor Lind chipping in two helpers.
Ryleigh White and Layne Hryhoriw added the other two goals in the game, while Amaya Giraudier backstopped the Wildcats to the win.
Giraudier needed to make just 13 saves, as the Wildcats out-shot the Sharks 37-15.
Kendall's first goal, and White's goal both came on the powerplay, as Swift went 2-for-4 in that department. Meanwhile, a couple first-period penalties gifted the Sharks a pair of powerplay goals, finishing 2-for-6.
"I thought yesterday we got off to a real good start, then we lost our composure, and took some penalties that we didn't need to take, but we got back with it after the first intermission," said Pavely. "Other than that last 5-7 minute stretch of the first period where we took penalties, I thought we were good for the most part from start to finish."
"Yesterday's game was a real good way for us to start the second half. Everybody was relevant in some way or another - whether it was on the score sheet, or winning faceoffs, killing penalties, or whatever it might be. That's what we need from our team day in, day out to be successful."
Into Saturday's blowout, the Wildcats scored early and often.
Swift Current piled five on the board in the first period, tallying a trio in the second period, before two more in the third - Battlefords scored with 8:34 remaining for the game's final goal.
"Our third period wasn't very good, but when you're up 8-0 after two periods, it's human nature - it's hard to stay as intense and as focused as you may have been to start the game," noted Pavely.
Swift Current out-shot Battlefords 30-27, though in the one-sided win, it was the number of quality chances that was more telling.
"We had real good looks. They tend to dump a lot of pucks in and they're willing to shoot from anywhere, so they didn't have a ton of high-quality scoring chances," Pavely explained. They had a few, and our goaltender had to make some saves, but they probably only had five quality scoring chances, where we had a lot. We did what we had to do, and we played the way we needed to play. It was a pretty solid effort."
Lind flooded the stat sheet on Sunday, racking up a hat-trick and two assists. Her seven-point weekend pushes the Wildcat captain's point-total to 34 on the season - good for a tie for first in SFMAAAHL league scoring.
Elsewhere, Kendall scored a goal and had two assists, Ashlee Wolfe had two markers, as did Baylee Kirwan, while Tobi Fontaine had two assists.
Kate Wagner and Crystal Wale had the other two goals for the Wildcats.
Meanwhile, Giraudier stood tall in net once again, making 26 saves. The Assiniboia products' goals-against-average was lowered to 3.02, while her save percentage rose to .881 in the strong weekend.
"She was very solid. We know that she's got the ability to be an elite goaltender in our league. She saw the puck well today, she just did a lot of really good things for us," said Pavely. "When you're playing and you know your goaltender is making saves for you, moving the puck, putting it in the right place, it just eases the pressure on the defenceman."
As for special teams on Sunday, Swift Current went 1-for-6 on the PP, while the Sharks went 1-for-8 in the penalty-filled affair.
"We weren't great - we weren't sharp on either end of the spectrum," said Pavely. "That comes with rust too, and only having two skates. The hard thing is when you come back from the break, you can't spend too much time doing that, because you've got to get people moving, and you want to get them skating."
"Our powerplay had moments when it looked really good, and moments it didn't look so good. Our PK was very similar. It wasn't as sharp as it needs to be, but that's something we can work on this week. Getting back to our regular routine of practice will help us in that regard."
As for the aforementioned Fontaine, the newest Wildcat racked up three assists over the weekend for her first points in a Wildcats uniform, having now played six games.
"A 17-year-old D-man who gives us a little bit of composure on the back end. We really noticed it when we played Saskatoon - that 17-year-old composure, the ability to make good passes to get us out of trouble, has really been a big benefit to us," said Pavely on the 5-foot-3 defenceman who started the season with the Prince Albert Northern Bears.
"She moves well, she sees the ice well. We're going to be in the mix at the end of the year - we're a little bit young on the back end only having one 17-year-old, and we thought that it was an addition we could make that could make the difference in a series down the stretch between us winning and losing."
The Wildcats moved up into fifth place in the league with the weekend sweep, leapfrogging the Melville Prairie Fire.
Swift heads to eastern Saskatchewan this coming weekend for games with the Prairie Fire on Saturday and Sunday.