Les Carabins de Montréal took home gold Sunday at the 2013 CIS Women’s Hockey Championship, against the Calgary Dino’s in an exciting rematch between last year’s championship finalists.
Calgary took an early lead 5:12 minutes in with a goal from Sinead Tracey, and played a strong offensive game throughout the first period. The Carabins had a slow start, and were stymied by Calgary’s good defense during early power plays.
With two minutes left in the first period, Megan Grenon of the Dinos was sent to the penalty box for interference, followed a minute later by teammate Kelsie Lang. Seizing the opportunity, the Carabins pressed hard and were rewarded when team captain Kim Deschênes scored with 24 seconds left in the period.
Carabins head coach Isabelle Leclaire noted the Carabins’ slow early game was not uncommon.
“The start is always a bit more stressful — in this championship we’ve been behind in every game in the beginning,” Leclaire said in a post-game interview. “We had that experience also against McGill, so we weren’t panicking.”
The second period started slow, as both teams had residual penalties from the first period. The Dinos missed a number of close opportunities on offense, while the Carabins were hampered when Ariane Barker fouled out for cross checking.
Ten minutes into the second period, Dinos player Iya Gavrilova fed a short pass to Stephanie Zvonkovic, who found an opening in the Carabins defense and scored.
The Carabins struck back hard in the latter half of the second period, with assistant captain Marion Allemoz scoring at 12:20 in the midst of some frenetic play in front of the Dinos net.
In a thrilling repeat of the first period’s last minutes, the Carabins set up a neat play in front of Calgary’s net, and several short passes later Deschênes scored, again with just 24 seconds left on the clock.
Leclaire attributed the Carabins’ success in the second period to an offensive strategy emphasizing play near the Dinos’ net.
“Our strategy was to bring the puck down low — the ice is pretty small here so you don’t want to take chances offensively.”
The Carabins stuck to this strategy throughout the third period, playing a conservative but offensive game that minimized their risks.
After Edith Aubert-Lehoux was sent to the penalty box five minutes into the match for hooking, the Dinos made a concerted effort to score, but were stymied by strong defensive efforts and Carabins’ goalie Elodie Rousseau-Sirois.
With just a minute left in the third period, Calgary pulled their goalie and gave everything they had to score. It proved to be for naught, however, as the Carabins played out the last minute cautiously and took home the gold.
With their victory on Sunday the Carabins avenged last year’s loss to the Dinos, which saw Hayley Wickenheiser score four goals in a lopsided 5–1 final.
Dinos head coach Danielle Goyette said the loss was disappointing, but thanked fans and players for their support and efforts.
“I have to give credit to our players. They battled hard and they gave everything on the ice,” Goyette said. “[The game] was good, we had good support — we’re pretty far from Calgary, and we had a lot of people come out tonight for the game.”
Following the game Carabins captain Kim Deschênes was singled out for her excellent play both during the game and the championship as a whole, and won the championship’s mvp award.
“It’s a very sweet victory, both for our team and our program,” Deschênes said of the game. “It was an extraordinary game, both teams played superbly.”