Kristina Bahl (Mississauga, Ont.) scored the game-winning goal at 6:15 of the third period and Madison Desmarais (North Bay, Ont.) added an insurance marker just over two minutes later to power Ontario Blue to a 5-2 win over British Columbia on Thursday at the 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Championship.
With the game tied 2-2 and needing at least a point to secure a spot in the semifinals, Ontario Blue was in need of a hero. Bahl stepped up with a wrist shot from the left circle that connected with the top corner.
Desmarais confirmed the win at 8:44, beating a screened Jordyn Verbeek (Langley, B.C.) with a shot from the deep slot.
Mya Vaslet (Stittsville, Ont.) and Kathryn Stockdale (Ottawa, Ont.) also got goals past Verbeek, and Alyssa Machado (Mississauga, Ont.) scored an empty-netter for Ontario Blue, which clinched top spot in Group B with three wins in as many games. It will face the second-place team in Group A on Friday in Morden.
Jenna Buglioni (Port Moody, B.C.) generated the third-period drama by tying the game at 2-2 just 25 seconds into the period by jamming in a juicy rebound off an odd-man break from Anne Cherkowski (Coldstream B.C.). Buglioni and Cherkowski had a goal and a helper each for B.C., which finished the round robin with a win and two losses.
Mireille Kingsley (Sudbury, Ont.) stopped 31 shots for the win and Verbeek made 36 of 40 saves in defeat.
There was no dipping a toe in the pool at the start of this crucial confrontation – both B.C. and Ontario Blue immediately went full bore trading quality offensive chances that forced Kingsley and Verbeek into multiple challenging saves.
Ontario Blue landed the first punch of the bout; Isabel Wunder stole the puck from a B.C. defender to create an easy 2-on-1 goal for Vaslet with 6:02 left in the opening period.
B.C. gave Ontario Blue the taste of the same medicine as Cherkowski slammed in Buglioni’s cross-ice pass on a 2-on-1 under four minutes later.
A late power play in period two gave the Ontario Blue skaters a chance to seize momentum and they made no mistake as Stockdale propelled the puck past a screened Verbeek with 1:31 to go before the second intermission.
“We have 20 girls on this team, and they’re all playing for each other. We are going to keep being successful like this if we can stick to our process, go out there and play our game.”
— Isabel Wunder (Toronto, Ont.) on coming together as a team
“We like to play games in the locker room to calm nerves; it really relaxes everyone, gets everyone thinking in a different perspective. We just have to believe in ourselves moving forward and keep doing what we’re doing; everyone is on the ball, so we just have to keep that going.”
— Lindsay Bochna (Toronto, Ont.) on dealing with nerves