RICHMOND, B.C. -- Three-time champion Edmonton Chimos won both their opening-day games, including a tough 1-0 victory over Ontario powerhouse North York Aeros and a 5-4 win over Team Saskatchewan at the Esso Women's Nationals hockey championship on Thursday.
Erin Pieper scored the only goal of the game against Ontario and Melony Gushnowski stopped 22 shots for the Chimos, who are hoping to unseat Team Quebec as the Canadian senior women's champion. Team Quebec has won the title the last three years.
In other games at Richmond's Minoru Arena on Thursday, Team Quebec edged the Maritime Sports Blades of New Brunswick, 2-1, while host club Britannia Blues of Vancouver defeated the Selkirk Motor Hotel Storm of Manitoba 3-2, the Aeros demolished the PEI Esso Tigers 14-0, and New Brunswick edged B.C. 3-2.
In Quebec's game, National team member France St-Louis set up Marie-Claude Pelletier for the gamewinner at 3:21 of the third period. Nancy Deschamps, who will be attending the pre-Women's World Championship training camp for Canada's National Women's team in Barrie, Ont. from March 20-30, scored the other goal for Team Quebec, while Paulette Cormier replied for New Brunswick.
In Ontario's laugher over PEI, Sommer West had a three-goal hat-trick, while Marianne Grnak, Geraldine Heaney and Vicky Sunohara each had two goals. Amanda Benoit, Heather Richardson, Margot Page, Erin Rourke and Sari Krooks all had singles. Ontario outshot the Esso Tigers 78-6 in the rout.
Team Saskatchewan put up a surprisingly strong battle against the Chimos. Edmonton jumped to a 3-0 lead on goals by Shelley Coolidge, Deanna Lang and Jane Robinson. But Julie Foster scored the first of her two goals late in the opening period to bring Saskatchewan within two. And Sarah Howald's goal early in the second made it 3-2.
Melanie Haz and Robinson, with her second, extended Alberta's lead to 5-2 by the end of the middle period. But Saskatchewan didn't quit, as Foster and Howald each scored again in the third period to complete the scoring.
The round-robin portion of the four-day, eight-team national championship concludes today, with the playoff round going on Saturday and the gold-medal game on Sunday. That game will be telecast live on TSN and RDS, its Montreal-based sister station, beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern time.
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