EDMONTON – The University of Calgary Dinos defeated the Montreal Carabins 5-1 Sunday night at Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton, capturing the first national championship in the program’s history.
Hayley Wickenheiser scored twice and added two assists as the Dinos defeated the sixth-seeded Carabins, who are in just their third year of existence, for the national title.
It is the 44th CIS championship in the University of Calgary’s history and the first hockey title, and it’s an impressive debut for the Joan Snyder Program of Excellence, which made its debut in 2011-12 after a $500,000 donation by philanthropist Joan Snyder, who joined the team on the ice after the celebration.
Head coach Danielle Goyette, who took over the program five years ago and led the team from the basement of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference to the pinnacle of Canadian Interuniversity Sport in that short time, was thrilled for her troops.
“For them, it’s their Olympics. As a player, when you win something you have some emotion, but as a coach, when you win, you multiply that feeling by 23. It’s pretty amazing,” beamed Goyette after the win.
“I have to give credit to our goaltender. I said at the beginning if you want to win a championship, you have to have a good goaltender, I think she proved she was one of the best in Canada here this weekend,” she continued.
Wickenheiser, last year’s CIS Player of the Year, had two goals and two assists in the championship game to tie for first among all scorers in the tournament with five points.
“She wanted it so bad, that I even had to calm her down,” Goyette said of her star’s performance. “You saw out there tonight that she was trying to do it all on her own, but all year we’ve had success with a team game and that’s what we needed to get back to.”
Sophomores Iya Gavrilova and Jenna Smith as well as fourth-year Elana Lovell each had a goal and an assist while Tapp stopped 27 of 28 shots sent her way by the top offensive team at nationals. The Calgary-born goaltender made 61 saves in three games, earning a .986 save percentage and 1.00 goals-against-average to be named a tournament all-star as well as the tournament MVP.
“I just tried to do whatever I could to get in front of pucks,” Tapp said. “There were some scrambles and battles in front of the net, but the girls did a lot and really helped me out a lot tonight. It was a great hockey game, and I’m really proud to have been a part of it. It’s a team game, and I made as many first stops as I could, and the girls in front of me helped me take care of the rest. I’m really proud to win this game with this group of girls.”
Defender Élizabeth Mantha scored the lone goal for Montréal, also earning a spot on the tournament all-star team. Fellow sophomore Josianne Legault had an assist to tie Wickenheiser for the tournament scoring lead, getting her third helper to go with two goals.
Wickenheiser scored her pair of tallies 88 seconds apart in the first period. The first was a short-handed marker at 16:46 of the opening frame when Gavrilova rushed up ahead to catch up to a loose puck in the Carabins zone and made a drop pass to Wickenheiser who used a screen to put a backhand shortside on Rachel Ouellette.
The former Olympian then scored her third goal of the tournament when she circled into the high slot and floated a wristshot past another screen, giving the Dinos a 2-0 lead with 1:56 left to go in the first period.
With two straight power-plays midway through the second, Montréal tried to reduce the deficit, but Tapp stopped all nine shots in the four minutes of man-advantage time, including thrilling stops on a deflection right in front of the net and a partial breakaway by Kim Deschênes, who started the tournament on Thursday with a four-point performance of her own.
Wickenheiser would get point number three by feeding rearguard Casey Irving at the point, former Swift Current Wildcat Smith deflecting the shot to the top right corner to build the Calgary lead with 1:17 left on the clock in the second.
At the 1:34 mark of the third, Wickenheiser won a faceoff in the Carabin end and made a goalmouth pass to Gavrilova for an easy tap-in to make it a four-goal deficit.
Mantha would reply just under five minutes later, stopping Tapp’s shutout bid with a seeing-eye point shot through a screen, the power-play marker coming with 14 minutes left.
At the 10:58 mark of the final frame, however, Lovell put a halt to any comeback, taking a Tanya Morgan pass from the point while all alone in the front, having ample time to deke around Ouellette for the 5-1 lead.
The gold medal win by Calgary marks the sixth different winner of the women’s hockey CIS championship.
“We know that not that long ago, the University of Calgary was thinking about cutting this program,” said Goyette. “So to win this championship, five years later, is pretty amazing. Our goal is to be one of the best programs in the country and we’re on the right track now.”
The Dinos, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, and the Toronto Varsity Blues now all have one title apiece, the Concordia Stingers have two, the McGill Martlets winning three (all in a four-year span from 2008 to 2011), and the Alberta Pandas lead with seven championship crowns.
The University of Montreal was playing in their first women’s hockey championship as well, despite only starting the program three years ago. In that short span, they have made two national championship appearances, winning the 5th place game in 2010, and collecting silver this year.
Tournament MVP: Amanda Tapp, Calgary
R.W. Pugh Fair-Play Award: Andrea Boras, Alberta
Goaltender: Amanda Tapp, Calgary
Defence: Stephanie Ramsay, Calgary
Defence: Élizabeth Mantha, Montréal
Forward: Kim Deschênes, Montréal
Forward: Leslie Oles, McGill
Forward: Hayley Wickenheiser, Calgary