Team B.C.’s difficulty staying out of the penalty box ultimately cost them the game as they allowed three power play goals in a 3-1 loss Thursday night to Ontario-Red at the U-18 National Women’s Hockey Championship.
B.C. carelessly took five penalties in the first period allowing Ontario two power play goals less than two minutes apart.
“I thought our girls were strong five-on-five, but to give a team like that so many opportunities and allow them to build confidence … that much penalty time is really a tough way to start a hockey game,” said B.C. head coach Sylvain Leone.
British Columbia got on the board first after Sarah Potomak scored her third goal of the tournament five minutes into the first period, but the team’s penalty troubles foiled any momentum they might have generated.
“I think the first five minutes were strong, but we started getting slow feet reacting slowly,” said Leone. “We got surprised a lot, and when you get surprised you start taking penalties.”
Nicole Martindale scored first for Ontario to tie things up at 1-1, and Emma Woods gave Ontario the lead just minutes later, scoring 10:44 into the first period with B.C.’s Daley Oddy in the box for hooking.
Leone said the penalties were self-inflicted, which can’t happen gold-medal contender.
“We came to play, we scored first, and we got some good momentum, after that much time short-handed it took us all of the second to get us back into it [the game],” he said, while also noting that B.C. had their own chances on the power play but failed to capitalize.
Ontario went to the box six times in the final forty minutes, and had 16 penalty minutes on the game. Despite their own penalty troubles Ontario limited B.C. to 17 total shots.
Ontario defence Emma Greco said her team came out looking to shutdown B.C.’s top line of Potomak, Lauren Spring, and Hannah Miller.
“We knew they had a really strong line, we knew we had to match up against them and not give them time and space,” said Greco. “We definitely did a really good job on that, eliminating everyone’s space.”
Ontario’s final goal came on their seventh man-advantage when Sydney McKibbon scored late in the third period putting the game out of reach.
The win puts Ontario-Red at 2-0 in the preliminaries situating them comfortably to advance to the semi-finals. The top two teams from each pool advance to the medal rounds.
B.C. drops to 1-1 and face Team Atlantic (0-2) tonight in the final round-robin game, a win, and an Ontario-Red defeat of Saskatchewan (1-1), would assure B.C. also reaches the semi-finals.
“We control our own destiny, and the team knows that,” said Leone. “This stings a little bit, if losing doesn’t hurt you’ll never get better.”
“Atlantic is a good team, they are physical and fast,” he added. “We expect with them fighting for their lives, to try and create a three-way tiebreaker, they are going to be coming out hard.”
An Atlantic win over B.C. would mean a three-way tie between British Columbia, Atlantic, and Saskatchewan. It would then boil down to goals-for, and against, to determine second-place in Pool A, and a chance to play for a medal.
In the other Pool-A matchup on Thursday, Team Saskatchewan earned their first win of the tournament with a commanding 5-1 victory over Team Atlantic.
Saskatchewan jumped to a 3-0 lead to begin the first period with three unanswered goals scored by Kaitlin Willoughby, Kennedy Ottenbreit-Daunheimer, and Emily Clark.
Team Atlantic forward Laura Polak scored late in the opening frame to close the gap, but it was all Saskatchewan from then on out, as the prairie province improved their record to 1-1 for the tournament.
Ottenbreit-Daunheimer finished the game with two goals; Willoughby ended the night with a goal and two assists. Clark and Jaycee Gebhard each had a goal and an assist, while defence Jolene Kirkpatrick had two helpers.