A thrilling U SPORTS women’s hockey championship was decided in double overtime as Taylor Kezama scored to put the No.6 Alberta Pandas on top over the No.4 McGill Martlets at the Strathcona Paper Centre in Napanee, Ont.
The goal for Kezama came off of a broken play in the McGill end and deflected off a Martlet into the back of the net 8:13 into the second overtime period. The Pandas ended a six-year drought to claim their first Golden Path trophy since 2010.
The Martlets season finishes with an RSEQ championship and a U SPORTS national silver, their fifth program silver and 14th medal. Today marked the eighth time in the last 10 championships that McGill had made a championship final appearance.
“This team is remarkable,” said Alberta head coach Howie Draper. “They work so hard, sacrifice themselves, and they deserve this.”
Few had tabbed the No.6 Pandas, who fell to UBC in their conference final, to go all the way. But the lessons Alberta learned in Vancouver paid dividends when the going got rough in Napanee at nationals.
“The scar tissue that was formed after that weekend helped us here,” reflected Draper. “We got down twice against Concordia and were able to come back — we knew that we had to be better, stronger and more resilient.”
Draper highlighted the play of fifth-year senior goaltender Lindsey Post as critical in his team’s title-winning victory.
“It was tough, McGill is such a strong team and there (were) many times where that game maybe could’ve been over earlier,” admitted Draper. “Fortunately, we got great goaltending from Post, as we’ve had all year long, and it just took one shot — we got it.”
Post, a native of Chelsea, Quebec, made 40 saves en route the victory.
“All I had in my head was, ‘this is your last game as a Panda, just stop the puck,’” said Post. “To finish it off here in (Napanee), close to home, is unbelievable — this is what I’ve been dreaming of since my first year as a Panda. There’s no words for it.”
At the other end of the rink, McGill’s Tricia Deguire turned aside 24 of the 26 shots she faced.
After a scoreless first period, Amy Boucher lit the lamp giving the Pandas a 1-0 lead. While on a 1-on-1 Boucher used the defencemen as a screen and beat Deguire with a far-side snapshot.
McGill was able to tie the game in the third period as Melodie Daoust took advantage of a powerplay opportunity, one-timing a cross-crease pass to tie the game 1-1. This forced the game into overtime.
In double overtime, Taylor Kezama scored the game-winner for the U of Alberta Pandas. Kezama took a quick shot that bounced off the foot of a Martlets defensemen and passed Deguire.
“It didn’t feel real at first, I was like, ‘did this go in?’,” laughed Kezama post-game. “My excitement level went through the roof. It’s the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”
GAME NOTES: Alberta is the winningest program in national history, owning eight of 20 U SPORTS championships awarded since the sport was incorporated in 1997-98…Sunday night marked the end of the storied careers of McGill senior stars Gabrielle Davidson and Melodie Daoust…Over 4,500 people attended the U SPORTS Women’s National Championships in Napanee.
Tournament Most Valuable Player: Lindsey Post (Alberta) Tournament All-Stars: G Lindsey Post (Alberta) D Emilia Cotter (McGill) D Kelly Murray (UBC) F Alex Poznikoff (Alberta)
F Gabrielle Davidson (McGill) F Melodie Daoust (McGill)