ALMATY, Kazakhstan (U SPORTS) – The Canadian women’s hockey team couldn’t have hoped for a better start at the 28th Winter Universiade as the U SPORTS all-stars skated to a resounding 9-1 win over China Saturday afternoon in Almaty.
Canada dominated from start to finish and led 3-0 after the opening period and 7-1 after 40 minutes. Shots on goals were 55-5, including a 13-1 advantage in the first period, 23-1 in the second and 19-3 in the third.
The line of Mélodie Bouchard (2-2-4) from the University of Ottawa, Kaitlin Willoughby (0-3-3) from the University of Saskatchewan and Alanna Sharman (1-1-2) from the University of Manitoba was dangerous all afternoon and ended up with nine points.
Daley Oddy (1-2-3), Jaycee Magwood (1-1-2) and Kelty Apperson (0-2-2) also had multiple-point games for the red and white, while defenceman Katherine Bailey, Alexandra Labelle and Kelly Gribbons also found the back of the net.
Goaltender Valerie Lamenta only had to make four saves to earn her first Universiade victory. The University of Guelph netminder couldn’t do much on China’s lone marker scored by Xin Fang on a breakaway with six minutes left in the middle stanza.
“We’re definitely happy with the win. It’s a great start and it’s always good to get that first game in the books. A lot of girls scored their first international goal today, so that was exciting,” said Canadian head coach Rachel Flanagan from the University of Guelph. “Despite the final score, we got a chance to work on the little things that will help us down the road.”
“Our speed was a big factor today, in all three zones. Our passing was pretty crisp as well,” Bouchard said. “Our line with Kaitlin and Alanna has good chemistry. Hopefully we can keep it going all tournament.”
Team captain Katelyn Gosling was also pleased with the overall performance of her squad.
“It was nice to see so many girls contributing. It was a great team effort,” said the veteran rearguard, one of only two returning members from the 2015 Universiade squad along with Oddy.
The Canadian women wasted no time getting on the board and were up 3-0 nine minutes into the contest.
Bailey opened the scoring 3:42 in, taking advantage of the fact starting goalie Yuqing Wang was caught out of position to blast a shot to the back of the net. Bouchard, who assisted on Bailey’s marker, made it 2-0 at 6:08, before collecting an assist on Sharman’s goal at 8:33 for her third point of the match.
After Magwood and Labelle scored early in the second period to increase Canada’s lead to 5-0, Bouchard pushed a rebound past backup netminder Siye He at 11:51, completing a nice individual effort from Willoughby.
Fang broke Lamenta’s shutout bid less than two minutes later but Gribbons potted the game’s only power play goal with 35 seconds left in the second to make it a 7-1 affair.
Rachel Marriott and Oddy rounded out the scoring in the third.
Wang made 10 saves on 13 shots before leaving the game with an injury at 14:51 of the first. He stopped 36 of the 42 shots she faced the rest of the way.
Canada, which had won the first three FISU Games women’s hockey tournaments (2009, 2011, 2013) before settling for silver two years ago in Spain, will be back on the ice Monday at 4:30 p.m. local time (5:30 a.m. ET) against Great Britain, before wrapping up pool play on Wednesday versus host Kazakhstan.
Saturday, Jan. 28 (16:30): Canada 9, China 1
Monday, Jan. 30 (16:30): Canada vs. Great Britain
Wednesday, Feb. 1 (20:00): Canada vs. Kazakhstan
Saturday, Feb. 4 (TBD): Semi-finals
Monday, Feb. 6 (16:30): Bronze
Monday, Feb. 6 (20:00): Final