"Dig a Little Deeper" attitude pays off; Labonté shines as Canada edges Edmonton MLAC 2-1
by Kristen Lipscombe
EDMONTON, Alta. – It has been a challenging week for Canada's National Women's Team.
So following a coaching staff change and 5-1 loss to the United States, the team motto "dig a little deeper" and all that comes with it became critical moving into Saturday night's game against the Edmonton MLAC Maple Leafs inside Bill Hunter Arena.
And that mental fortitude paid off, with Team Canada topping the Alberta Midget Hockey League squad 2-1 in a strong, solid game that showed the red and white can't easily be shaken. Charline Labonté (Boisbriand, Que./Montreal, CWHL) made an impressive 36 saves to help keep Canada in the game, while Gillian Apps (Unionville, Ont./Brampton, CWHL) scored in the first and Jennifer Wakefield (Pickering, Ont./Toronto, CWHL) added a power-player marker in the second to help lead the canucks to a win.
"It was just a great game," Labonté said after the game. "We definitely didn't play our best against the States, so it was important for us as a team to come back and be united again."
The veteran netminder shone between the posts Saturday night, with her quick movements across the crease and instinctive reflexes playing a key role in her team's success on the ice. Labonté generously gave her game-winning stick to a young fan following the game.
"I always have to win before I give a stick away," she said with a smile.
The first goal of the game came with 20 seconds left in the opening frame, when Mélodie Daoust (Valleyfield, Que./McGill University, CIS) fed a long pass up the ice to Apps, who deked out an Edmonton defender and shot it off the post and in to put Canada up 1-0.
Canada's was able to capitalize on the player advantage midway through the second for its next marker, with Laura Fortino (Hamilton, Ont./Cornell University, ECAC) shooting the puck and Wakefield getting her stick on it to put it into the mesh and make it 2-0.
Although a shorthanded goal from Edmonton's Chris McKay at 9:27 in the third caught Canada off guard for a brief moment, the red and white held on for the win, capping off a tough week on a positive note.
"We've been in this building a lot, so to have our final game here and finish off with a win was really good for us," Apps said, adding Canada needs "to focus on each game as we go," with Sunday night's game against the Sherwood Park Kings next on the agenda.
"We're making our final push now," Apps said of how the team motto plays into this part of the 2013-14 season. "It's just about fine-tuning the little things we've been working on all year and ... 'digging a little deeper,' whether it's on the ice, off the ice or just on a long road trip. We're just kind of pushing to the end now."
To stay-up-to-date on Canada’s National Women’s Team exhibition action this season, against Alberta Midget Hockey League teams and the United States, leading up to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, check out Hockey Canada’s official website at www.hockeycanada.ca/nwt and follow Team Canada on social media at twitter.com/hc_women and www.facebook.com/hockeycanada.
|Game Information/Renseignements sur le match|
|Game #/Match no
|Arena/Aréna||Bill Hunter Arena||Location/Lieu||Edmonton, Alta.|
|Date||Saturday, December 14, 2013||Time/Heure||20:15 MT|
|Goals & Penalties/Buts et pénalités|
|First Period/Première période|
19:40 CAN Gillian Apps (Melodie Daoust)
|Second Period/Deuxième période|
10:24 CAN Jennifer Wakefield (Laura Fortino, Natalie Spooner) PP/AN
04:37 EDM MLAC Christopher Verklan (Cross-checking/Double-échec)
09:37 EDM MLAC Connor Radawetz (Hooking/Accrocher)
10:51 CAN Bailey Bram (Hooking/Accrocher)
|Third Period/Troisième période|
09:27 EDM MLAC Chris McKay SH/DN
03:10 EDM MLAC Zac Dennique (Delay of Game/Retarder le match)
06:22 EDM MLAC Connor Radawetz (Hooking/Accrocher)
08:25 EDM MLAC Chris Verklan (Cross-checking/Double-échec)
12:15 EDM MLAC Connor Radawetz (Tripping/Faire trébucher)
|Goaltenders/Gardien(ne)s de but|
||Hunter Lorenson; Nikolai Farrus (in 2nd/10:30)|
|Shots on Goal/Tirs au but||1||2||3||Total|