CANADA BEATS ROYALS IN ESSO SERIES FINALE
JASON LA ROSE
CALGARY, Alta. - Mélodie Daoust (Valleyfield, Que./Montreal, CWHL) scored two goals and set up another, helping Canada's National Women's Team close out the Esso Series with a 3-1 win over the Calgary Royals on Sunday afternoon.
The Canadians finished 10-4-4 in Alberta Midget Hockey League play; they were unbeaten in their last seven (4-0-3) and had just a pair of losses in their final 13 AMHL games.
Brigette Lacquette (Mallard, Man./Calgary, CWHL) and Rebecca Johnston (Sudbury, Ont./Calgary, CWHL) scored the other goals, striking in the first nine minutes of the first period to put Canada up for good.
Lacquette got the offence started just past the seven-minute mark, hammering a slap shot off the post and in past Calgary goaltender Noah Decottignies, and Johnston picked the top corner on the power play only 90 seconds later to double the advantage.
Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, Que./Montreal, CWHL) earned assists on both early goals; she finished as Canada's leading scorer in AMHL play with 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 15 games.
The Royals had their opportunities in the opening 20 minutes, including a pair of shorthanded breakaways, but Canadian netminder Ann-Renée Desbiens (La Malbaie, Que./University of Wisconsin, WCHA) kept the Canadian lead at two.
Calgary had the run of play in the second period, outshooting Canada 10-5, but Daoust extended the lead to three with a buzzer-beater, corralling the puck and tucking a shot around Decottignies with just 0.7 seconds to go.
Dominic Turner finally solved Desbiens early in the third period, sneaking a shot five-hole to cut the deficit to two, but the Canadians would close the door from there.
Daoust added an empty-net goal on the power play in the final minute, providing the final margin of victory.
The Canadians will depart for South Korea on Wednesday morning. They open their quest for a fifth-consecutive Olympic gold medal against the Olympic Athletes from Russia on Feb. 11 (7 a.m. ET/4 a.m. PT).