ONTARIO RED BEATS SASKATCHEWAN FOR PERFECT PRELIMS
WINKLER, Man. - Kendall Cooper (Burlington, Ont.) registered a goal and an assist and Olivia Wallin (Oakville, Ont.) scored the game-winner late in the second period to power Ontario Red to a 4-2 win over Saskatchewan on Thursday at the 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Championship.
Nicole Gosling (London, Ont.) and Lindsay Bochna (Toronto, Ont.) also scored for the four-time defending champions, who sealed first place in Group A with a perfect 3-0 record and clinched a spot in the semifinals. Ontario Red will contend against the second-ranked team in Group B. The identity of that team will be revealed after Thursday’s schedule is complete.
Kayle Osborne (Rideau Lakes, Ont.) turned aside 21 of 23 shots to pick up the win.
Ashley Messier (Wilcox, Sask.) notched a goal and an assist and Chace Sperling (Theodore, Sask.) lit the lamp for Saskatchewan, which also nabbed a spot in the final four despite the loss. The prairie province will duel with Ontario Blue, the top team in Group B, in Morden on Friday (1 p.m. CT).
Chantal Weller (Saskatoon, Sask.) made 21 saves in defeat.
Sturdy defensive coverage from both teams led to solid offensive chances being a rarity in the first period; both sides could only muster only a combined five shots on goal by the 10-minute mark.
Ontario Red eventually broke through with goals 89 seconds apart late in the frame. Gosling drew first blood with 2:51 to play, rifling in a one-touch shot after receiving a crisp cross-ice pass from Maddi Wheeler (Erinsville, Ont.) on a fast break.
The ice-breaker put wind in the sails of Ontario Red’s offence. The unit manufactured multiple opportunities on the rush in the last two minutes of the frame, including an obstructed breakaway attempt that gave Bochna a penalty shot. Bochna made no mistake, showing the poise of an expert sniper as she rifled the puck under Weller’s arm.
Saskatchewan found life early in the second period on a 5-on-3 opportunity as Messier completed a pretty back-and-forth passing play with Baylee Kirwan (Gull Lake, Sask.) by slapping the puck into the net from the slot at the 3:44 mark.
Ontario Red responded with some of its strongest puck possession work of the match, which led to it reclaiming its two-goal spread as the constant pressure led to Wallin’s game-breaking wraparound goal late in the second period.
Saskatchewan set up a white-knuckle finish for Ontario Red with under seven minutes to play in the third as Sperling scored her team’s second power-play goal with a high tip of Messier’s point shot.
However, they could not draw closer as Cooper produced the empty-net goal with 24 seconds left on the clock.