CIS women’s hockey Saturday roundup: Western wins first OUA title in program history

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Mar 07, 2015

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RSEQ Final Game2 of 3
Guelph 0 Western 2 Final Box Score | Recap
OUA Final

LONDON, Ont. – For the first time in program history, the Western Mustangs are the OUA Women’s Hockey Champions as they defeated the Guelph Gryphons 2-0 in the championship final on Saturday afternoon at Thompson Arena.

“I thought we played our finest game of the season,” said Mustangs head coach Chris Higgins. “There were stretches when we were a little bit back on our heels but we had solid d-zone coverage. I thought we forechecked, I thought we skated, I thought we moved the puck. I thought it was one of our best games.”

The Mustangs hoisted the Judy McCaw Memorial Cup thanks to goals from Sydney Kidd and Kendra Broad. Kidd, who was named Porter Player of the Playoffs after recording five goals and one assist in five games, scored what would end up being the game winner less than a minute into the second period.

“I’ve been here for five years and if there is anytime to start playing your best hockey I guess now would be it, so I’ve been happy with my performance [throughout the playoffs],” said Kidd.

Mustangs goaltender Kelly Campbell picked up her fifth win of the 2015 playoffs, stopping all 23 shots she faced to earn Harrow Player of the Game honours and record her first shutout of the post-season. Stephanie Nehring put in a strong performance in the Gryphon net, turning aside 22 of 24 shots in the loss.

“That’s huge,” said Campbell on being named player of the game. “There are so many girls out on that ice that deserve it, I was just fortunate enough to get it this year, but there are definitely a lot of girls that deserve it.”

After a scoreless first period the Mustangs opened the scoring only 49 seconds into the second period as Sydney Kidd recorded her fifth goal of the post-season, jamming the puck past Nehring at the side of the net to give Western a 1-0 lead.

Both teams traded chances on back-to-back power plays midway through the frame, however neither side was able to solve the other, sending the game into the third with the Mustangs up 1-0.

Despite some pressure from the Gryphons early on, it was the Mustangs who made their mark on the scoreboard with Kendra Broad going high on the blocker side on a two-on-one to extend Western’s lead to 2-0 near the seven-minute mark of the period.

With time winding down Guelph picked up the pace and looked to be building some momentum in the offensive end, however a penalty with 3:44 left on the clock put them back on the defensive, and the Mustangs skated away with a 2-0 win and their first-ever OUA title.

“I think we’re going to celebrate tonight and not give [the CIS Championship] any thought,” said Higgins when asked about moving forward to compete for the CIS title next week. “Tomorrow we’ll wake up and design a practice plan. We have no experience, this is unchartered territory out there, and we’re going to have to get the girls in the right mindset because if you lose the first game you’re basically finished. We are ranked number two now so we will get presumably a lower seed which will be a bonus, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.”

Both the Mustangs and Gryphons now advance to next week’s CIS Women’s Hockey Championship, being hosted by the University of Calgary. The quarterfinals begin Thursday, March 12 with the championship final set for Sunday, March 15, at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Manitoba 1 Alberta 3 Final Box Score | Recap
Canada West Final Series Game 2 of 3

EDMONTON – In a tight game between perennial rivals, conference all-star Jessica Kampjes’ power-play marker with 3:57 left in the third propelled the University of Alberta Pandas to the 12th conference title in team history, defeating the University of Manitoba Bisons by an eventual 3-1 final score, Saturday afternoon at Clare Drake Arena.

The third-year forward recorded a goal and an assist in Alberta’s first Canada West crown since 2010, rookie defender Jessie Olfert scoring earlier in the third to tie the close game up at one and fourth-year forward Janelle Froehler adding an empty-netter. First team conference all-star Lindsey Post made 19 saves in her fourth-straight post-season victory. The win also advances the Pandas to the CIS Championships being held next weekend in Calgary.

Third-year rearguard Jayden Skoleski tallied the lone goal for the Bisons, while Canada West Second Team All-Star Rachel Dyck made 16 saves in the loss that ended Manitoba’s season.

Both teams began today’s elimination game with hesitancy, an early collision in the corner between an official and sophomore Alberta forward Jessica Sekulic quieting the hometown crowd, the Panda athlete getting the worst of it, but she would return in the second period.

For the rest of the opening frame, Alberta had the best scoring chance, a two-on-one between third-year forward Sasha Lutz and sophomore Ashley Morin led to Lutz’s wristshot squarely finding Dyck’s glove to keep the scoreboard at zeroes.

Former Melville Prairie Fire Alana Serhan followed up with a deflection off the post for Manitoba but the teams entered the dressing rooms still tied.

Sensing a chance to extend the series to a third and final game, the Bisons came on strong in the second, outshooting the home team 8-3 on the shot clock.

“They definitely brought their level up today,” commented fifth-year Alberta defender Kayla Lavallee, playing in her final home game. “We knew that would happen. Their backs were against the wall and they definitely rose to the occasion. They’re a tough team, a good team and a young team that will be a force to be reckoned within the years to come.”

Manitoba’s best chance in the middle stanza came with 1:05 left when senior forward Maggie Litchfield-Medd was in the right place at the side of the net, the puck finding its way to her from a scramble, but the Winnipeg’s native shot at a wide-open net was instantly taken away by Post with an incredible reflex stick save to keep the game scoreless after 40 minutes.

Yet the visitors opened the scoring at the 2:21 mark of the third period, Post stopping Litchfield-Medd’s point shot and amazingly stopping Skoleski’s first rebound attempt with a blind pad save while on her back, but Skoleski had enough time to poke her second attempt through for the 1-0 score and put the Pandas on their heels.

“Maybe there was some hesitation through the first two periods,” suggested Alberta head coach Howie Draper, “because you’re worried about making a mistake that leads to a goal against. But, when you’re in the third period and suddenly the first goal is scored by the other team, that hesitation goes out the window and you wake up and you start playing with confidence and making the plays you need to make because you have to do the things that made you successful and that means playing for the win.”

It may have taken a bit too long for the hometown faithful for the confidence to appear, but Alberta replied on the scoreboard on a mad scramble in front of the Manitoba net at the 9:24 mark of the final frame.

With bodies flying everywhere and Dyck out of position from the initial scramble, Olfert powered home the puck into the Bison cage from the high slot, re-energizing the team and bolstering the bench efforts of Alberta’s team captain.

“Kayla Lavallee was an absolute warrior for us,” praised Draper. “I tell her that all the time because she always gives every game everything that she has, and today was no different. She kind of dragged the team along today. When we were down 1-0, she was the one walking up and down the bench rallying the players to get it together. She bleeds green and gold, and it was great to see her leadership as team captain, and her effort get rewarded because that was her final game on home ice, and she went out a winner.”

It was then two-time Canada West All-Star Post’s turn to shine, the Chelsea, Que. native taking on a point-blank shot from third-year forward Cassandra Taylor and making a left pad stop on another third-year Bison, Nicole McGlenen, to give Alberta a chance to win.

“Post was unbelievable today,” continued Draper. “I thought she was our best player all weekend. She is an all-star and we really need her to step up in games like this, and at this time of the season. She was phenomenal today and all weekend.”

Her efforts left the door open for some Kampjes heroics at the other end of the ice, a slapshot at the top of the circle on an Alberta man-advantage found its way through a maze of bodies before finding the far corner behind Dyck, the Pandas earning a 2-1 lead with 3:57 to go.

Not to be outdone, however, Manitoba turned up the heat with more offensive pressure in the winding minutes, forcing a final crucial save by Post on Litchfield-Medd with 30 seconds left, the netminder turning the former APHA Ranger aside with a combined stick-pad save.

“Litchfield-Medd was amazing all weekend for them,” commented Draper. “I thought she was Manitoba’s warrior all weekend, and that she put her teammates on her shoulders because she really wanted this game. It didn’t surprise me that she was the one to break free late in the game and get a chance, but thankfully our best player, Post, bested their best player this weekend.”

Froehler then added an insurance marker with 10.7 seconds left on the clock, vaulting a puck from center ice into the empty Bison cage to give Alberta its first conference banner in five years.

“It’s an unreal feeling,” expressed Lavallee. “I can’t really describe the feeling, or even put it into words. The journey isn’t over, we’ve accomplished one of our goals, but winning CIS is another goal and that’s the next goal we’re focused on.”

Alberta went 1-7 on the power-play while the Manitoba went 0-5.

While the Bisons end their season with Canada West silver, the Pandas advance to the CIS Championships next weekend, their seeding amongst the six participating teams to be determined in the next two days.

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