MCPHERSON BACKSTOPS ONTARIO BLUE PAST QUEBEC
MORDEN, Man. – Vaulted by a 39-save performance from Jesse McPherson (Chatham, Ont.) and two goals from Isabel Wunder (Toronto, Ont.), Ontario Blue registered a 3-1 win over Quebec on Wednesday at the 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Championship.
McPherson was at her best in a third period that saw her peppered with 22 shots by a Quebec squad desperately clawing for a comeback. Her near-perfect outing was produced because of her anticipation skills and strong positioning in goal. Mya Vaslet (Stittsville, Ont.) also shone with a goal and an assist for Ontario Blue, which improved to a 2-0 record for the fourth time at the last five championships.
Maya Labad (Mascouche, Que) potted her third goal of the tournament to spoil the shutout bid with only 2:59 remaining.
Ève Gascon (Terrebonne, Que.) providing solid goaltending for Quebec in defeat, turning aside 25 of 27 pucks.
Ontario Blue’s penalty killing played a starring role in the win as the team went 8-for-8 on the back of aggressive checking.
After McPherson stabilized early attacking pressure from Quebec, Vaslet put Ontario Blue on the board first with a wraparound past an unsuspecting Gascon just after the midway point of the opening frame.
Wunder pounced for Ontario Blue again less than four minutes later by pounding in a rebound off a searing shot from Emma Harvey (London, Ont.) on a rush down the left wing.
The aforementioned strong penalty killing loomed large in the first period as Ontario Blue weathered four Quebec power-play opportunities, including 1:40 of 5-on-3 time.
Both teams dialed it up in the second period. At times they created the illusion they were attached by Velcro with how tight-checking the play was during the middle stanza.
McPherson stepped to the forefront with a couple of great point-blank saves to maintain her team’s two-goal lead heading into the third frame.
Quebec’s gale force of offensive pressure finally paid dividends late in the third period with Picard deflecting in an Emilie Fortunato (Laval, Que.) shot from the right wall. However, Wunder quickly nullified the momentum with an empty-net goal.
Ontario Blue will try and nab a perfect record in the prelims on Thursday against British Columbia (1 p.m. CT), while Quebec will look to return to the win column against Manitoba (7 p.m. CT).