On Saturday evening, The Varsity Blues women’s hockey team defeated the Nipissing Lakers 2–1 and won the 2023 McCaw Cup. Star forward Céline Frappier scored the winning goal with 28.4 seconds left in the third period to help the Blues capture their 19th McCaw Cup in school history.
“We’ve been putting in so much work, we’re so happy! We fought till the end. You can’t help but smile [and] cry… Our team’s exhausted but we gave it everything, that’s why. It’s pure joy,” said Blues forward Natasha Athanasakos.
The seats were packed with energetic fans at Varsity Arena and the atmosphere seemed to encourage the Blues. They had a few scoring chances but Lakers goaltender Chantelle Sandquist was a brick wall, stopping all 20 shots she faced in the opening frame. The Lakers had their best chance when they got a two-on-one on a breakaway, but Blues goaltender Erica Fryer robbed the Lakers and kept the game tied at zero.
In the second period, the Blues continued to get shots on net but, despite the hostile crowd, Sandquist was stopping everything the Blues threw at her. Though dominated by the shots, it was the Lakers who struck first with a power-play goal. Three Blues players were in a puck battle along the boards and the front of the net was uncovered — giving Lakers forward Lana Duriez a chance to bury her own rebound and finally beat one of the two goalies. The Blues went into the third period trailing 1–0 despite outshooting the Lakers 39–21. It felt like nothing was going to beat Sandquist.
The Blues battled in the third period, but Sandquist continued standing on her head. Blues forward Nikki McDonald was called for roughing late in the game, and on that penalty kill, tides changed for the Blues. With less than four minutes left in the game, Blues forward Katy McKenna was forechecking and stripped the puck from Lakers defender Allison Hayhurst behind the net, burying a wraparound to finally beat Sandquist and tie the game.
The Blues kept pushing, and with 28.4 seconds left in the game, Frappier cemented herself as a Varsity Blues legend with the McCaw Cup winning goal.
“I have no words to explain how I’m feeling right now, but this was definitely the cherry on top,” said Frappier, who had a magical season between the McCaw Cup Championship and the gold medal with Team Canada at the FISU games.
“Everyone had their heart in it, and everyone just wanted to win as bad as they could,” Frappier told The Varsity.
The Blues battled down to the last buzzer and will now play for a national championship as McCaw Cup champions.
“Throughout this playoff series, we just keep getting better and better. This group of girls is something special… we have a lot of momentum carrying us with this big win tonight,” said Frappier.
The Blues will play at the USPORTS championships starting March 16 in Montreal with a chance to be Canada’s best.