Saturday, 16 March 2019

Sorting Out The Draw

The games have been played and the finals have been set. Eight teams have sorted themselves out into specific draws for Sunday's final games with two of the teams having been eliminated from further play. I'll go through the games and series as we look at each of the games that led to the Sunday's final three games of the 2018-19 U SPORTS women's hockey season!


I spoke about this game in yesterday's entry, but two goals in 1:53 to start the game from Kaitlin Lowy and Sydney Davison put Manitoba in a hole early as they looked simply dreadful in the opening period. Had it not been for an Alanna Sharman goal with 35 seconds to play late in the period, this game might have already been over. The teams went to the intermission with Guelph leading 2-1, though.

The second period started with a bang as Alanna Sharman made a fantastic move to beat Valerie Lamenta with a shot that went bar-down just 1:02 into the frame, and the game was tied 2-2 as Manitoba seemed to wake from their first-period slumber. While both teams would have good chances through the remaining 19 minutes, both Lauren Taraschuk and Valerie Lamenta would keep this game deadlocked at 2-2 as we moved to the third period.

The two teams continued to look for opportunities, and it would be Guelph who would capitalize on a turnover as Nicole MacKinnon zipped a shot off the shoulder of Taraschuk that fluttered past the netminder at 5:53 to put the Gryphons ahead 3-2. From there, it was a neutral zone trap and the goalie show of Valeria Lamenta as Guelph shut down Manitoba entirely for the remainder of the game as the Guelph Gryphons defeated the Manitoba Bisons 3-2 to advance to the semi-final. Manitoba's championship defence ends as they move to the consolation side of the bracket.

The host UPEI Panthers had the pleasure of meeting Montreal in their first games, and there was some concern that this game might be a mismatch based on Montreal's success this season. As we found out, one player cared not for Montreal successes as she did all she could to end Montreal's run.

The first period saw no goals scored, but Montreal had numerous chances to break the stalemate. Those chances, though, would be denied by UPEI's Camille Scherger as she seemed to stand on her head at times. Through one period, the score remained 0-0, but Montreal held a 12-5 edge in shots.

Early in the second period, les Carabins finally broke through the UPEI wall. Alexandra Labelle's shot from the left face-off dot found room between the pads of Scherger as Montreal jumped out to the 1-0 lead at 4:52. Late in the period, Kaleigh Quennec chipped a puck up and over the pad of Scherger at 18:30 for the 2-0 lead! Aube Racine wasn't busy in that period as Montreal held a 21-7 advantage in shots.

Alexandra Paradis ended any hope of a UPEI comeback as she notched a goal at 10:44 to make it 3-0. While Montreal was clearly the more talented team, UPEI's compete level was never in question as they played right until the final horn. Unfortunately for them, Montreal held onto that 3-0 score for the victory.

The top-ranked Alberta Pandas seemed like clear-cut favorites in this game, but they were without Autumn MacDougall due to injury and it was reported they would be without Amy Boucher all weekend as the student-athlete was busy with her MCATs. The losses of those two centers for the weekend made Alberta's task to march through the competition a lot harder, and Toronto was coming into this game with nothing to lose as they looked to shock the Pandas.

The first period was classic Pandas hockey as they limited virtually all the offence from the Varsity Blues. The Pandas, however, couldn't solve Erica Fryer despite outshooting Toronto 8-3 in the period.

Alberta jumped into the scoring just 3:14 into the second period when Taylor Kezama found room past Fryer. Toronto clamped down on the defensive end to limit Alberta to just four shots, but two of those four shots would dent twine as Alex Poznikoff found the back of the net at 17:26 to push the Pandas' lead to 2-0. After two periods, the Pandas held the two-goal lead after 40 minutes.

The Varsity Blues needed to find some offence in the third period, and they turned to one of their stars as Lauren Straatman, fresh off winning a silver medal at the FISU Universiade Games, snapped a shot past Kirsten Chamberlin at 9:39, and it was a game once againn. Toronto continued to press as they searched for an equalizer, but Alex Poznikoff would strike a serious blow to those efforts when she scored on the power-play at 17:29. The Varsity Blues would get one more goal from Taylor Trussler at 19:39, but it would be too little and too late as the Pandas skated to the 3-2 victory!

The AUS champion St. Thomas Tommies drew the McGill Martlets in the quarterfinal round, and this game was over before it began. One never wants to see a blow-out at the national tournament, and this game was unfortunately a blow-out.

Emilia Cotter opened the scoring at 6:42 for McGill. St. Thomas responded with a Laura Henman goal at 9:21 to tie the game. Lea Dumais put McGill back on top at 15:10 on the power-play, and Valerie Audet extended that lead before the end of the first period at 17:42 as McGill led 3-1 after 20 minutes.

Kellyanne Lecours made it 4-1 at 3:59. Valerie Audet added her second goal on the power-play at 9:47 to make it 5-1. Megan Pardy cut the lead to three goals with a power-play goal of her own at 10:12, but Lea Dumais restored the four-goal advantage at 13:09. 42 seconds later, it was 7-2 thanks to Shana Walker. Lea Dumais would pick up the hat trick at 16:40 as McGill was off and running with an 8-2 lead. Abby Clarke was mercifully pulled by St. Thomas at this point, and Taylor Cook was sent out to the crease to face the Martlet firing squad, but Cook would hold them off for the remaining 3:20 as McGill led 8-2 through two periods.

Kellyanne Lecours started the third period the same way as she started the second period as she scored at 9:28 to make it 9-2. Jade Downier-Landry would put McGill into double-digits on the scoreboard at 15:26. Tricia Deguire had little trouble earning the win behind the ten-spot put up by McGill as they advanced with the 10-2 trouncing.


The hosts didn't get an easier task this morning as the UPEI Panthers drew last year's champions in the Manitoba Bisons. The Panthers were admittedly looking to build for next season's national championship in this year's tournament, so facing last year's champs should give them a good measuring stick.

The opening period was an uptempo period as both teams came to play. Lauren Taraschuk was great in the Manitoba crease while Camille Scherger made a number of outstanding saves in the PEI end as the teams remained tied at 0-0 through 20 minutes with Manitoba holding a slight lead in shots at 13-10.

The second period opened the same way the first did as the teams went back and forth looking for the opening goal. The Panthers would give the fans who came out at 10am a chance to cheer as Taylor Gillis scored the game's first goal at 5:58! The Bisons would turn up the heat and they'd be rewarded at 11:58 when Alanna Sharman banked a shot in off Scherger to tie the game at 1-1. The remainder of the period would show off the goalies' skills as they denied shooters at both ends, and we'd go to the third period tied 1-1 with Manitoba holding 25-21 advantage in shots.

The third period was just as exciting as the first two frames as the two teams went toe-to-toe in search of a win. Manitoba would take the lead at 11:28 when Alexandra Anderson's shot was partially-blocked and then hit a Panthers defender in front and pinballed into the net past Scherger to put the Bisons up 2-1. 1:24 later, Natasha Kostenko cleaned up a rebound after Camille Scherger made an incredible save off Karissa Kirkup to put the Bisons ahead 3-1. Lauren Taraschuk and the Bisons defence took care of the rest as the Bisons advanced to the consolation final with the 3-1 win while the UPEI Panthers would see their tournament come to an end with their second loss.

After the drubbing that St. Thomas took the night before, there was interest in seeing how the Tommies would respond in today's game against Toronto. The Varsity Blues were looking to continue their strong play after an impressive showing against Alberta.

This game featured a parade to the penalty box in the first period as both teams seemed to want to take their frustrations out on one another. The final minute would feature two goals, though, as Kassie Roache scored a power-play goal past Abby Clarke at 19:16 to put Toronto up 1-0, but St. Thomas would erase that power-play goal with one of their own just 28 seconds later when Alex Woods found room past Erica Fryer to make it a 1-1 game going into the second period. Toronto shocked everyone by jumping out to a 17-5 margin in shots as they carried the play for the majority of that period.

The second period saw far fewer penalties so it was a more evenly-played period. Toronto did lead in shots throughout the period with a 9-3 advantage, and one of those shots counted in a big way as Mathilde De Serres found the back of the net at 12:14 to put Toronto up 2-1. That score would hold through the end of the period as Toronto held a 26-8 advantage in pucks-on-net.

The third period saw the Toronto defence simply stifle any and all attacks from the Tommies as they held the AUS champions to just four shots in the period. Fryer had trouble with none of the four shots as Toronto eliminates St. Thomas from the U SPORTS National Championship with a 2-1 victory as they booked a date in the consolation final!


The third-ranked Gryphons met the second-ranked Carabins in what should have been an epic battle. I say "should have been" mostly because this one was about one period and one player that decided this game entirely.

Guelph wasted no time in getting this game started as Mallory Young had the Gryphons on the board just 34 seconds in when she beat Aube Racine to put Guelph up 1-0. Claire Merrick made it 2-0 at 6:15, Ashlee Lawrence put the third goal on the board at 7:51, and Molly Crossman put Guelph up 4-0 at 11:31 as the Carabins looked somewhat shellshocked. Racine was replaced by Sarah Lussier for 2:18 seconds - making one save in the process - before Racine went back to the net. She seemed to have shook off the early bombing by Guelph, but surrendered a fifth goal to Madison Melo at 17:42. At the other end, Valerie Lamenta was solid as she kept the potent Montreal offence in check as Guelph took their 5-0 lead to the second period with the teams tied 11-11 in shots.

Montreal came out with a renewed sense of urgency in the second period, but they ran into the Lamenta barrier once more as the Guelph netminder made a handful of incredible saves to keep the Carabins off the board. Guelph wouldn't find the net behind Racine in this period, but they did show some life as they led in shots through two periods by a 21-17 margin.

The third period was a showcase for Lamenta once again as she stymied the Montreal shooters on every chance. Despite outshooting the Gryphons 10-6 in this period, none would find the net behind Lamenta as the Gryphons booked their ticket to the final on the strength of their 5-0 lead. Montreal will now compete for the bronze medal on Sunday.

These two storied programs have met on multiple occasions in the past, and it was time to write another chapter into their stories as Alberta and McGill tangled once more.

This game was intense as the two sides refused to give an inch and every shot was earned. Kirsten Chamberlin and Tricia Deguire were unbeatable in the first period as both sides sent seven shots on net, and we'd move to the second period with the 0-0 stalemate intact.

The second period? Similar to the first period as there were chances, but neither goaltender seemed interested in allowing a goal. Alberta did muster a couple of extra shots to lead 16-14 in shots, but neither side found twine as the game moved to the third period still tied at 0-0.

The third period was more of the same as the two teams continued to battle hard to find chances only to be denied by the netminders. However, a slap-pass from Laura Jardin to the front of the net found Stephanie Desjardins, and Desjardins out-waited Chamberlin as she moved to her right, flipping the puck over the outstretched glove of Chamberlin and into the net at 15:36 to give McGill the 1-0 lead late in the game! Alberta mounted as much offence as they could find in the remaining four minutes of the game, including a one-timer in the slot from Poznikoff that Deguire stopped cold, but they could not solve the McGill netminder. When the final horn sounded, the McGill Martlets had knocked off the top-seeded Pandas 1-0 to advance to the gold medal game! Alberta will now play for the bronze medal on Sunday.


This isn't some legal conclusion, but there's the entire set of games from Thursday to Saturday in their entirety as we get set for championship Sunday. Toronto will play Manitoba in the consolation final for fifth-place. Alberta and Montreal will battle for the bronze medal. McGill and Guelph will decided who is the best team in women's hockey as they compete for the gold medal. It's been a heckuva few days for hockey, the crowds and event at UPEI have been incredible, and it all ends tomorrow. Make sure you tune in and catch the best hockey in Canadian university hockey on its biggest day!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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