HUNTSVILLE, Ont. - For the ninth time in the 10-year history of the National Women's Under-18 Championship, defending champion Ontario Red has claimed the gold medal, defeating Manitoba 2-1 in overtime at the Canada Summit Centre in Huntsville.
This year's event featured eight provincial and regional teams competing in 18 games; including 12 preliminary round games, two placement games, two semifinals, and bronze- and gold-medal games over the course of five days.
It was just the third time Ontario has hosted the National Women's Under-18 Championship, joining previous host cities Kitchener (2007) and Napanee (2008). The championship is also the first of two major women's events Ontario will host during the 2015-16 season, as St. Catharines will host the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship from Jan. 8-15, 2016.
The game remained scoreless until the final minutes of the opening period when Sarah Verbeek (Timmins, Ont./Cambridge, PWHL) scored on a rebound at the 14:40 mark from Jaime Bourbonnais (Misssissauga, Ont./Oakville, PWHL) and Annie Berg (Beamsville, Ont./Cambridge, PWHL).
Ontario Red held a 1-0 lead through 40 minutes until the 7:15 mark of the third when Jaedon Cooke (Souris, Man./Westman, MFMHL) jumped on a big bounce off the boards and buried the rebound to tie the game on what was the team's lone shot of the period.
Regulation solved nothing and for the third time in tournament history, overtime would decide a national champion. At the 18:10 mark, captain Lindsay Agnew (Oakville, Ont./Mississauga, PWHL) fired home the game-winner. Stephanie Neatby (Toronto, Ont./Toronto, PWHL) made 16 saves for Ontario Red.
In the bronze-medal game, Victoria Klimek (Orangeville, Ont./Stoney Creek, PWHL) opened the scoring when she intercepted the puck along the side boards and fired a shot over the blocker to make it 1-0 at the 14:24 mark.
Amy Potomak (Aldergrove, B.C./Pursuit of Excellence, BCMAAA) scored twice for British Columbia, starting at the 1:32 mark of the second period which made it a 1-1 game before Meaghan Hector (Georgetown, Ont./Oakville, PWHL) restored Ontario Blue's one-goal advantage on a power play goal at 12:16. Ontario Blue would add another thanks to Celine Frappier (Tecumseh, Ont./Toronto, PWHL) who made it 3-1 after 40 minutes.
After Brianna Gaffney (Tamworth, Ont./Kingston, PWHL) made it 4-1, B.C. scored a pair of late goals, from Potomak at 16:53 and Alexandra Rempe (Penticton, B.C./Okanagan Hockey Academy, JWHL) at 18:33, to make it 4-3, but Ontario Blue held on for the bronze medal.
Award winners for the 2015 National Women's Under-18 Championship were announced following Sunday's gold medal game. The tournament awards committee named the five award winners based on play right through to the semifinals.
2015 National Women's Under-18 Championship award winners:
Tournament MVP - Amy Potomak, Aldergrove, B.C./Pursuit of Excellence, BCMAAA
Top Defence: Jaime Bourbonnais, Mississauga, Ont./Oakville, PWHL
Top Forward: Lindsay Agnew, Oakville, Ont./Mississauga, PWHL
Top Goaltender: Édith D'Astous-Moreau, Laval, Que./Stanstead, CAHS
Most Sportsmanlike Player: Celine Frappier, Tecumseh, Ont./ Toronto, PWHL
The 2015 National Women's Under-18 Championship brought together eight provincial and regional teams made up of the best female hockey players born in 1998 or later. The tournament served as an important step for Hockey Canada scouts who will evaluate candidates for those who will put on the maple leaf and represent Canada at the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship from Jan. 8-15 in St. Catharines, Ont.
A number of Canadian women's hockey stars have competed at the National Women's Under-18 Championship, including 14 who helped Canada's National Women's Team win the gold medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia:
- Meghan Agosta (Jan. 2005 - Ontario Red)
- Gillian Apps (2001 - Ontario Red)
- Mélodie Daoust (2007, 2008, 2009 - Quebec)
- Laura Fortino (2007, 2008 - Ontario Red)
- Haley Irwin (Jan. 2005 - Ontario Red)
- Brianne Jenner (Nov. 2005 - Ontario Blue; 2007, 2008 - Ontario Red)
- Rebecca Johnston (Nov. 2005 - Ontario Red)
- Jocelyne Larocque (Jan. 2005, Nov. 2005 - Manitoba)
- Marie-Philip Poulin (Nov. 2005, 2007, 2008 - Quebec)
- Lauriane Rougeau (Nov. 2005, 2007 - Quebec)
- Natalie Spooner (Nov. 2005, 2007 - Ontario Red)
- Jennifer Wakefield (Jan. 2005, Nov. 2005 - Ontario Red)
- Catherine Ward (Jan. 2005 - Quebec)
- Tara Watchorn (2007 - Ontario Red)
For more information on the 2015 National Women's Under-18 Championship, please visit www.hockeycanada.ca/nwu18c and follow along via social media at www.facebook.com/womensu18 and www.twitter.com/hc_nwu18.