EDMONTON (ISN) – Charlottetown, PEI native Stephanie Ramsay had a three-point night to vault the third-seeded Calgary Dinos to the CIS championship game for the first time in the program’s history, taking a 4-2 decision over the No.5 Alberta Pandas to win Pool ‘B’, Saturday night at Clare Drake Arena.
Championship website (including webcast): http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wice/index
Ramsay notched the game-winner and two helpers against her former club with which she won CIS gold and tournament MVP back in 2010. Fourth-year Dino Elana Lovell, originally from Kamloops, BC, added a pair of goals while former Olympic gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser scored her first goal of the tournament.
Cracking the scoresheet for the Pandas was fourth-year forward Meg Omand, of Cold Lake, Alta., and senior rearguard Nicole Pratt, who hails from High Prairie, Alta.
Calgary will now meet the No.6 seed Carabins de Montréal in the championship final, Sunday evening at 6:00 pm MT. It marks the first time either program has played for the ‘Golden Path’ trophy, as the Dinos previous best was a 5th place finish in 2001, while Montreal accomplished the same result, but in 2010.
Special teams were the difference in the first period, Calgary netting two power-play markers in the opening frame with Wickenheiser the recipient of some pretty passing from Ramsay and Iya Gavrilova before the former CIS Player of the Year buried her shot over Kaitlyn Chapman’s shoulder 6:43 into the game.
“I wasn’t really happy with the penalties we took,” lamented Alberta head coach Howie Draper. “They all cost us. You can’t do that against a team like Calgary.”
The second man-advantage goal came with exactly 18 seconds left on the clock, Lovell finding herself alone in front of the Alberta net, quickly moving from backhand to forehand before shelving the puck for the 2-0 lead.
The Dinos held on to their two-goal lead for most of the second period, despite more than a minute’s worth of two-man advantage by the Pandas midway through the middle frame, but the host team could only put one shot on net during that time.
Alberta did score their first goal of the tournament before the period was out, though, rookie forward Janelle Froehler forcing a turnover just inside the Calgary blueline and linemate Janelle Malcolm getting the puck to Omand who put a shot top shelf with 40.8 seconds left.
“We really weren’t able to generate enough offence all year,” continued Draper. “It’s been our Achilles heel all season.”
Early in the third, the Canada West champion Dinos went back to work on the power-play to extend their lead back to two when the Pandas were unable to get the puck out at the blueline where Calaine Inglis forwarded a pass to Ramsay who evaded an Alberta defender, walked in on goal and snapped home the winner at the 2:35 mark of the final frame.
“Stephanie has so much talent, and in the last month, she’s really stepped up her game,” praised Calgary head coach Danielle Goyette. “She scored a big goal. The pressure was on our team, they were stressed, and a goal like that gave them more legs to finish the game.”
Seventeen seconds later, Lovell added an insurance goal off an offensive zone faceoff to give Calgary a three-goal lead against their provincial rivals.
Pratt would make things interesting with 2:12 left to go in the third, wristing a shot on net from the point that eluded the Dinos’ Amanda Tapp but the Calgary defence then shut the door, blocking shots and keeping the Pandas to the outside to claim the victory.
“Just to come to nationals was a big thing for the program,” Goyette continued. “It means a lot to beat McGill and now Alberta, but just getting to the final isn’t enough. It’s going to mean something tomorrow if we win that game and go home with a gold medal.”
With the completion of the round robin portion of the tournament, Sunday’s championship match at 6 PM MT will feature the Calgary Dinos facing off against the Carabins de Montréal. The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks and McGill Martlets will duel for the bronze medal at 2 PM MT while the Alberta Pandas and UPEI Panthers will contend with daylight savings before going toe-to-toe in the fifth-place game at 11 AM MT.