ALMATY, Kazakhstan (U SPORTS) – The Canadian women’s hockey team secured first place in Group A at the 28th Winter Universiade thanks to an 11-0 victory over host Kazakhstan, Wednesday evening.
Team Canada (3-0) will now enjoy a well-deserved two-day break before getting back on the ice on Saturday for a semifinal matchup against Russia, the United States or Japan.
In their first three outings at the biennial tournament, the U SPORTS all-stars have outscored their opponents 34-1 and have outshot the opposition 204-21.
Despite the lopsided score against the Kazakhs, the Canadians got to enjoy a unique experience as a capacity crowd of over 5,000 was on hand at Baluan Sholak Arena to cheer on the local favourites.
“Playing the host team, the atmosphere was amazing. The crowd was really behind them,” said University of Alberta forward Alex Poznikoff of Edmonton. “It didn’t feel like an 11-0 game. They were really intense and physical the whole way. We got a few at the end to make the score what it was.”
“The atmosphere was great,” added assistant coach Kelly Paton from Western University. “We wanted to play a full 60 minutes to be ready for the medal round. We want to keep building and get better every day. Our last two periods were more where we want to be.”
The Canucks, who held a 72-16 advantage in shots on net, led 3-0 after the opening period and 6-0 after 40 minutes before exploding for five goals in the third, including four in the final eight minutes.
Alexandra Labelle of Salaberry-de Valleyfield, Que., led the way with a hat-trick and one assist while University of Montreal teammate Catherine Dubois of Charlesbourg, Que., also racked up four points, including a goal and three helpers.
Also contributing offensively with three points apiece were team captain Katelyn Gosling (1-2-3), forward Kelty Apperson (2-1-3), as well as rearguards Brianna Iazzolino (1-2-3) and Katherine Bailey (0-3-3).
Stephanie Sluys of Clinton, Ont., made 16 saves to register her second shutout in as many games. The University of Waterloo netminder hadn’t faced a single shot on Monday in a 14-0 domination of Great Britain.
At the other end of the ice, Kazakh goalie Darya Dmitriyeva did her best to limit the damage, going the distance and turning aside 61 pucks in a losing cause.
NOTE: Canada won the first three FISU Games women’s hockey tournaments (2009, 2011, 2013) before settling for silver two years ago in Spain… The Canadians are now 26-2 all-time at the tourney, with both losses coming against Russia in 2015, including a 3-0 defeat in the gold-medal final.