On March 29, The Varsity Blues women’s hockey team faced Team France at Varsity Arena, in an exhibition game ahead of the 2023 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Hockey Championships. France defeated the Blues 4–3 in overtime in what was the Blues’ final game of the 2023 season.
It took a while for the game to open up as both teams were playing tight, defensive hockey. When French forward Manon le Scodan opened the scoring late in the first period, it was the wakeup call that both teams needed, and the second period was faster-paced.
The Blues were the better team in the second period. Blues forward Aili McKeown and centre Abby Howland got chances to score early in the period, but France’s goalie Margaux Mameri kept the puck out. The Blues got the equalizer three minutes into the second period when Blues forward Emma Elders beat Mameri.
France regained the lead midway through the second period when Chloé Aurard, who plays Division 1 in the National Collegiate Athletic Association for Northeastern University, potted one on the power-play. The score remained 2–1 heading into the third period, with the Blues outshooting France 15–12.
Five minutes into the third period, the Blues captain tied things up. Taylor Trussler found herself alone in the front and buried the cross crease pass, building on her strong season.
With under two minutes remaining, Aurard scored her second goal of the night to give France a 3–2 lead. Although France had the lead at the end of regulation, the game was scheduled to play five minutes of three-on-three overtime and a shootout.
In overtime, France’s Jade Barbirati and Blues centre and rookie sensation Kaitlyn McKnight each scored, and the game ended in a 4–3 victory for the French.
“I saw a hole and I looked [at the] top corner,” said McKnight. She credited going up against great goalies in practice for the goal.
Team France will begin the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships on April 5 when they take on Finland. For the Blues, they enter next season with unfinished business, as they look to repeat as McCaw Cup champions and win a national championship.