MONCTON (New Brunswick) - Team Quebec will attempt to be the second squad from the province, and the only other team, to win three national women's hockey titles tomorrow when they face Ontario's North York Aeros in the final of the 1996 Esso Women's National Hockey Championship at the Moncton Coliseum. The gold medal game for the Esso Cup will be televised live on The Sports Network (TSN) and Le Reseau des Sports (RDS) at 1 p.m. (local), Sunday, March 24.
Team Quebec earned the right to defend their 19 titles with a convincing 4-1 win over the hometown favourite Moncton Sports Blades, and North York dominated Alberta's Edmonton Chimos to a 5-2 victory to advance to the gold medal game on Sunday.
Quebec and Ontario last met in the national final in 1991 in Verdun, Quebec, when the Toronto (North York) Aeros beat Sherbrooke to stop Quebec's run at three national titles (1988, 1989, 1990).
In the first semi-final of the day, national team member, Marianne Grnak, gave the Aeros a 3-0 lead, scoring what proved to be the winning goal at 5:16 of the second period.
Ontario took a 1-0 into the first intermission, with both squads playing tentatively. North York then went ahead 3-1 after 40 minutes of play, and scored another two in the final period to Alberta's one goal to record the 5-2 win.
The Aeros' other goals were scored by Erin Rourke, Sari Krooks, Vicki Sunohara and Sommer West. The Moncton Sports Blades got on the scoreboard on goals by Rachelle Vernon and Alison Ramsley, the only player to have competed in all national championships since 1982.
In the Quebec versus New Brunswick match-up, the Fleur-de-lis proved to be too strong for their hosts. Team Quebec took a commanding 4-0 lead, before the Moncton Sports Blades spoiled Denise Caron's shut-out with 1:21 remaining in the game.
National team member Nancy Drolet scored twice for Team Quebec, including the game winner with one second left to play in the first period. Their other goals were scored by Martine Berube and Nancy Deschamps, who will join Drolet on the national team from April 1-6 in Richmond, B.C., for the Pacific Women's Hockey Championship. The second annual event features Canada, China, Japan and the United States.
New Brunswick's lone goal was scored by Joanne Vautour. These two teams met in last year's final in Summerside, P.E.I., with Team Quebec winning 5-2.
In earlier games today, the Britannia Blues from B.C. shut-out the PEI Esso Tigers 5-0 for seventh place, and the Edmonton Chimos defeated Team Saskatchewan 4-1 and New Brunswick pounded the Winnipeg Sweat Camp 8-1 to advance to their respective semi-finals.
Sunday's games will see Saskatchewan face Manitoba for fifth place honours, New Brunswick and Alberta will battle for the bronze medal, and Team Quebec and Ontario will play for top honours.
1996 ESSO WOMEN'S NATIONAL HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
Moncton, New Brunswick
March 21-24, 1996
Alberta 4 vs Saskatchewan (3rd Pool B) 1
New Brunswick (2nd Pool B) 8 vs Manitoba (3rd Pool A) 1
Playoff for 7th - 8th place
BC (4th Pool A) 5 vs PEI (4th Pool B) 0
Ontario (1st Pool B) 5 vs Alberta 2
Quebec (1st Pool A) 4 vs New Brunswick 1
Playoff for 5th - 6th Place
Saskatchewan vs Manitoba at 8:00 am (local)
Alberta vs New Brunswick at 10:00 am (local)
Quebec vs Ontario at 1:00 pm (local)