ONTARIO RED WINS GOLD AT U18 NATIONALS
REGINA, Sask. – The script has become very familiar, but that doesn’t mean the ending is any less sweet for Ontario Red.
With its 4-1 win over Quebec, the team captured the gold medal at the 2016 National Women’s Under-18 Championship. It’s the 10th time in 11 all-time tournaments that Ontario Red has been crowned champion.
And it’s the seventh time that Quebec has had to settle for silver.
This year’s gold medal game paired the two most-skilled teams in Regina. Little of that got to be seen, however, for nearly 40 minutes. The story through the first two periods was penalties. Ontario Red was whistled for eight minors; Quebec was called for three minors and one double-minor.
That four-minute man-advantage for Ontario Red started a new story.
Already leading 1-0 on a rebound goal scored by Sarah Fillier (Georgetown, Ont./Oakville, PWHL), Ontario Red struck twice in a 23-second span with less than a minute to go in the second period.
Avery Mitchell (Pickering, Ont./Toronto, PWHL) drove down the wing and fired from just inside the right circle, going far-side top shelf on goaltender Édith D’Astous-Moreau (Laval, Que./Nepean, PWHL).
That goal had yet to be announced when Camryn Tait (Stouffville, Ont./Toronto, PWHL) made it 3-0 with a shot from the right face-off dot.
The quick strikes came after the team killed off seven straight penalties, including two stretches of five-on-three for Quebec.
The lead grew to four midway through the third period. On a delayed penalty, Alexa Vasko (St. Catharines, Ont./Stoney Creek, PWHL) one-timed a pass from Fillier to the back of the net.
Quebec broke up Danika Ranger’s (Astorville, Ont./Durham West, PWHL) shutout with a late power play goal. Audrey Gervais (Saint-Hyacinthe, Que./Nord, LHFDQ) fed Joannie Garand (Otterburn Park, Que./Nord, LHFDQ) for an easy tap-in at the side of the net.
The way Quebec played through its first four games it seemed impossible that its offence could be shut down. Ontario Red proved otherwise. The team had more jump from the beginning and seemed to play a more crisp game. Experience helps, too: 13 of its players won a medal game a year ago.
With Ontario Red’s past success there’s always pressure on each year’s roster to perform. This team did, adding its name to the eight others that not only won gold, but also ran the table in doing so.