CANADA STAYS CLOSE, BUT DROPS ICEBREAKER OPENER
JASON LA ROSE
CALGARY, Alta. – Mélodie Daoust (Valleyfield, Que.) and Natalie Spooner (Scarborough, Ont.) scored to twice get Canada’s National Women’s Team within a goal, but it fell short in a 4-2 loss to the Calgary Northstars to open the Icebreaker Tournament on Thursday night.
The game was the first for Team Canada as it works towards the 2018 Olympic Winter Games next February.
The teams combined for just 11 shots in the first period, but it was the Northstars who found the scoreboard first; with time running out in an early power play, Klano Robinson took a pass in the high slot and snapped a quick shot past the blocker of goaltender Shannon Szabados (Edmonton, Alta.) for a 1-0 lead after one period.
Cam MacAdam doubled the advantage seven minutes into the second, knocking in a cross-crease feed from Luke Spadafora, but Daoust answered just over six minutes later, trailing the play and taking a pass from Meghan Agosta (Ruthven, Ont.) before tucking a backhand around Calgary netminder Sam Smith.
The Northstars struck for a back-breaking goal very late in the middle frame; Spencer Weinkauf beat Szabados for the eventual game-winner with just 24.2 seconds to go, putting the Midget side up 3-1.
Spooner got one back for the Canadians early in the third period, finding a loose puck off a scramble in front and beating Smith, but that would be as close as the ladies in red and white would get.
Geneviève Lacasse (Kingston, Ont.), who replaced Szabados to start the final stanza, went to the bench for an extra attacker with more than two-and-a-half minutes to go, but A.J. Belanger found the empty net at 18:23 to provide the Northstars with a little more breathing room.
Canada finished with a 25-24 advantage in shots on goal.
The Canadians are back on the ice Friday for the second of three preliminary-round games against AMHL competition at the season-opening tournament, taking on the Calgary Flames (5 p.m. MT).