Natalie Spooner (Scarborough, ON) scored with 3:53 remaining in the third period, giving Team Canada Black a tight 2-1 win over Japan in the opening game at the National Women’s Under-19 Program Evaluation Camp in Calgary on Thursday afternoon.
Spooner went to the net and converted a rebound off a shot by Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, QC), giving her team the win in a game that was much closer than the shots on goal indicated.
Canada Black finished with 37 shots to Japan’s 17, including 26-12 over the opening 20 minutes. Nana Fujimoto was the star for the team from the Far East, not allowing a goal until the nine-minute mark of the second period and keeping her team within striking distance.
Alyssa Wiebe (Saskatoon, SK) got the Canadians on the board first just before the midway point of the middle frame, gathering in a rebound in front of Fujimoto and flipping a backhand past the sprawling Japanese goaltender. Jacquie Colborne (Calgary, AB) and Saleah Morrison (Selkirk, MB) picked up the assists on the tournament’s opening goal.
Japan finally gave their goaltender some offence late in the period, as a point shot from Tomoko Sakagami eluded Canada Black goaltender Delayne Brian (Winnipeg, MB), knotting the game at 1-1.
After a back-and-forth third period that featured chances for both teams, Spooner’s goal avoided overtime and clinched the win for her team, getting them off to a 1-0 start ahead of Friday night’s game with Canada Red.
Brian turned aside seven of the eight shots she faced, while Alexandra Garcia (Pointe Claire, QC) stopped nine of the shots against her in the opening period-and-a-half.
Japan returns to the ice at Father David Bauer Arena on Friday afternoon when they take on Canada White.