British Columbia is taking the bronze medal back to the West Coast.
Thanks to its 5-3 win over Ontario Blue at the 2016 National Women’s Under-18 Championship in Regina, the team clinched only its second medal in tournament history. B.C. won bronze at the January, 2005 event.
Okanagan Hockey Academy player Miranda Gaudet said it was a surreal moment for her as she was on the team last year that lost to Ontario Blue.
“It was a pretty big deal this year to beat them out. Finally a little bit of payback,” said Gaudet, who finished with a goal and five points in five games. “It was an awesome feeling, especially with some players on my team from OHA too.”
Alex Allan scored twice, and Allison Borrow, Shay-lee McConnell and Amy Potomak had a goal each in the win. Potomak added two assists. Kate Stuart made 18 saves in net.
Gaudet and Borrow were joined by Olivia Knowles and Mikayla Capelle.
After being overwhelmed in its semifinal loss, B.C. needed an early start and got one. Potomak couldn’t convert on the centering pass from Gaudet, but a trailing Allan roofed the rebound on Ontario Blue goaltender Jaimie Rainville.
Gaudet said a speech by Potomak opened eyes for a few players after that loss.
“It made a lot of girls realize that maybe were taking advantage of the moment,” said Gaudet of West Kelowna. “Knowing that other people wanted this chance and couldn’t represent B.C., it was a bit of an eye-opener. We definitely played our best game in the bronze medal.”
Ontario Blue equalized before the first period was half over. B.C. retook the lead only 1:36 later on the power play. Ontario Blue shook things up to start the second period. Tristyn Elford took over in net for Rainville. B.C. increased its lead midway through that middle frame. Thanks to her strong forechecking, Borrow gained possession of the puck deep in the Ontario Blue zone. Her attempt to centre the puck went off Meaghan Hector’s skate and in the net.
“Scoring a goal felt pretty cool,” said Borrow, who loved hearing her name announced because her parents were in the stands. “They were really proud of me. It was just really awesome scoring, knowing that I made an impact with the team.”
Only 57 seconds later, Allexan Templeman got that one back for Ontario Blue with a wraparound. B.C. restored its two-goal lead 7:43 into the third period. Potomak all but put the game out of reach with 5:45 remaining. While killing a penalty, the captain created a turnover in her own zone, then outraced everyone to the other end and scored five-hole. Ontario Blue scored late with an extra attacker on the ice.
“It was honestly an amazing experience and I don’t think I will ever get to do something like that again,” said the Clearwater product. “I just felt so awesome putting on that Team B.C. jersey and playing for my province.”
“It was amazing. So many people supporting our province,” said Gaudet of the championship game as she had her parents on hand watching.
Winning bronze is special to her after coming so close last year. For Capelle, what she will remember most is how the team came together.
“It was fun playing the game,” said Capelle of Dawson Creek. “We knew what we wanted.”
Another OHA player, Sophie Shirley was with Saskatchewan. She finished with a goal and three points in four games. Saskatchewan lost 6-4 to Alberta for fifth place.
-Written with files from Hockey Canada.