ONTARIO BLUE SURVIVES LATE SCARE, WINS BRONZE
HUNTSVILLE, Ont. – With 3:07 to play in the third period, Ontario Blue had a three-goal lead and looked well on its way to winning the bronze medal at the 2015 National Women’s Under-18 Championship.
With 1:27 to play that lead was down to one and a celebratory mood among the partisan crowd had suddenly turned tense.
But over a frenzied final minute that included the team hitting the post of an empty British Columbia net, Ontario Blue hung on to win its first bronze medal in tournament history.
Victoria Klimek (Orangeville, Ont./Stoney Creek, PWHL), Meaghan Hector (Georgetown, Ont./Oakville, PWHL), Celine Frappier (Tecumseh, Ont./Toronto, PWHL) and Brianna Gaffney (Tamworth, Ont./Kingston, PWHL) scored the Ontario Blue goals.
Nicole Cece (Oakville, Ont./Oakville, PWHL) made 20 saves in the win.
Amy Potomak (Aldergrove, B.C./Pursuit of Excellence, BCMAAA) scored twice for British Columbia, with Alexandra Rempe (Penticton, B.C./Okanagan Hockey Academy, JWHL) adding the third.
Alex Gulstene (North Vancouver, B.C./Okanagan Hockey Academy, JWHL) started in net, facing 15 shots before being replaced by Morgan Skinner (Victoria, B.C./Pacific, JWHL) with about nine minutes to go in the third.
Klimek opened the scoring with one of the prettiest goals the tournament saw this week. She intercepted the puck along the side boards, skated along the bottom of the face-off circle and roofed a backhand far side over the goalie’s blocker.
Ontario Blue looked like it would have the early momentum in the second period with a power play only 51 seconds in. Instead, Potomak gained control of puck in the B.C. zone, skated out from her own blue line, deked a defender in the Ontario Blue high slot and slid the puck beneath Cece.
Two goals 2:30 apart in the latter half of the period gave Ontario Blue the momentum back. First, Hector’s wrist shot from the point cleanly beat Gulstene. Then, Frappier intercepted a pass in the offensive zone, took a few strides into the low slot and shot high glove side.
When Gaffney redirected in a shot by Cynthia Cavanagh (Scarborough, Ont./Toronto Leaside, PWHL) midway through the third, the story seemed to be written.
But B.C. wasn’t going down without a fight. Skinner was first pulled with 5:21 to go. An Ontario Blue penalty let B.C. play six-on-four. Potomak snuck in behind everyone to the front of the crease, where she was free to put a rebound into an open net. Rempe emerged from bodies of chaos in front to score from the low slot 1:40 later.
From there, Ontario Blue hunkered down and never let British Columbia seriously threaten in the offensive zone again.