RICHMOND, B.C. -- Shelley Coolidge broke a 2-2 tie when she banged in Judy Diduck's rebound at 9:56 of the third period to lift the Edmonton Chimos to a 3-2 victory over Team Quebec to win the Gold-Medal final at the Esso Women's Nationals hockey championship on Sunday.
It's the fourth time in the 16-year history of the event that the Chimos have taken the championship back to Alberta. The Chimos' victory snapped Team Quebec's string of National titles at three in a row.
Hayley Wickenheiser scored twice for Alberta and defenceman Judy Diduck added a pair of assists. Goaltender Melony Gushnowski was brilliant for Alberta, as well, particularly in the third period, when Quebec, led by Nancy Drolet, named the Most Valuable Forward in the tournament, dominated play.
Quebec, gunning for a fourth straight National title, grabbed a 1-0 lead at 5:50 of the second period on a goal by Drolet, who banged in Tammy Shewchuck's rebound.
Wickenheiser tied the game for Alberta at 12:47 of the middle period. Wickenheiser grabbed Jane Robinson's rebound, pivoted and whipped a backhander past Quebec goalie Denise Caron, who also played a superb game.
On the same play, Team Quebec lost the services of National team veteran France St-Louis, who injured her right wrist after colliding with an Alberta defender. St-Louis, named the tournament Most Valuable Player at the awards banquet on Saturday night, was taken to hospital for X-rays, which confirmed she had broken the wrist.
Quebec made it 2-1 at 19:35 of the second period on the power play, when Shewchuck wheeled from the left-wing circle and drilled a shot that beat Gushnowski to the stick side.
Just 2:05 into the third period, though, Wickenheiser hammered a slap shot from just inside the blue line past Caron during an Alberta power play to tie the score once again.
At the tournament awards banquet on Saturday night, Jane Clegg of Saskatchewan was named the top goalie, while Geraldine Heaney of Team Ontario earned honors as the top defenceman I the championship. Alberta's Dawn McGuire won the award as most sportsmanlike player.
The North York Aeros, representing Ontario, got two goals from National team member Cassie Campbell to defeat New Brunswick 4-2 in the Bronze Medal game. In a game to determine fifth and sixth place, Saskatchewan defeated the host Britannia Blues 3-1.
On Saturday, Manitoba beat the PEI Esso Tigers 5-4 to claim seventh place in the eight-team tournament.
Click Here to see the 1997 Esso Women's National Championship Final Results