SYDNEY, NS – Team Ontario, represented by the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA) and the NWHL’s Brampton Thunder, made it three straight Esso Women’s National Championships for an Ontario team with their 2-1 victory over Team Quebec (NWHL – Montreal Axion) on Sunday afternoon.
The win by Ontario marks the 10th gold medal overall for Team Ontario, Canada’s most decorated team at the Esso Women’s National Championship. Ontario finished this year’s event with a 5-1 record in six games.
Sunday’s gold medal game of the Esso Women’s Nationals was played before a boisterous crowd, the largest of the tournament, and was broadcast LIVE coast-to-coast on Hockey Canada’s official broadcaster TSN/RDS.
Charline Labonté, the tournament’s Top Goaltender, was very busy in the Quebec goal facing 38 shots and once again showing her Olympic gold medal form, making several spectacular saves to keep the game close.
However, Ontario was strong and their relentless attack prevented Quebec from sustaining any offensive momentum. Kristie Zamora opened the scoring for Ontario in the first period to make it 1-0 after one period of play. Quebec’s captain Lisa Marie Breton made the score 1-1 after one-timing a pass from tournament MVP Annie Durosiers mid-way through the second period. Then, Team Ontario’s Jayna Hefford, the tournament’s Top Forward, slid a beautiful cross-crease pass to Vicky Sunohara with only seven seconds left in the second period, to make it 2-1 for Ontario. With no scoring in the third period, Team Ontario came away with the 2-1 victory and the gold medal. Kristie Zamora was named Ontario’s player of the game, while Labonte was named player of the game for Team Quebec.
The two gold medal teams matched-up very well, with both Quebec and Ontario lineups featured three 2006 Olympians each: Labonté, Gina Kingsbury and Caroline Ouellette for Quebec and Sunohara, Hefford and Gillian Ferrari for Ontario.
In Sunday’s bronze medal game, Alberta (WWHL – Calgary Oval X-treme) downed Team New Brunswick 7-3 to capture the bronze medal.
After being shutout of the medals in 2005, Alberta returned to the podium in 2006 with a 7-3 win over New Brunswick out shooting their opponents 40-19. Kaley Hall paced Team Alberta with a hat trick, including a shorthanded marker, and added an assist for four points. Alberta forwards Rebecca Russell and Heather Logan chipped in with three points a piece. New Brunswick had plenty of opportunities on the power-play, however, their two power-play goals were off-set by giving up two shorthanded tallies to Alberta. New Brunswick’s fourth place finish is their highest placing at the Esso Women’s event since winning a bronze medal in 1996.
For a complete 2006 Esso Women’s National Championship wrap-up, statistics and results visit Hockey Canada’s website at www.hockeycanada.ca.