Team B.C. suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Ontario-Red in the bronze medal match Sunday at the National Women’s Hockey Championships.
Sarah Nurse’s overtime goal four minutes into extra-time capped a three-goal comeback for Ontario-Red, devastating a British Columbia team that was in search of their first U-18 medal since 2005.
Team B.C. captain Lauren Spring said giving up the early lead makes the loss even tougher to take.
“When you feel like you have a hold on things it’s definitely hard, I’ll we had to do was go out and play twenty minutes of solid hockey,” said Spring whose team led 2-1 entering the final period.
“I think it was in the third [period] they played a bit more physical, we took a few penalties and stopped moving our feet,” said the three-time Team B.C. member. “An unlucky bounce at the end, and a few penalties caused us a bit of trouble, but other than that I thought we played a good game.”
B.C. struck first when Hannah Miller scored on the power play ten minutes into the opening period.
Leah Lum’s solo-effort early in the second period put B.C. up 2-0 when she stripped an Ontario-Red defender at the blue-line for a breakaway to beat goaltender Camille Leonard with a backhand shot as she fell to the ice.
Ontario-Red closed the gap to 2-1 when captain Kristyn Capizzano jammed a loose puck past B.C.’s goalie Michaela Logan midway through the second period.
Red would then force overtime when Nurse scored her first of the game late in the third period on a two-man advantage, silencing the B.C. faithful.
B.C. head coach Sylvain Leone felt his team didn’t let up despite leading 2-0, knowing full well no lead is safe against heavily favoured Ontario-Red.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be a shutout, so when we had two we didn’t want to let our foot off the gas at all,” he said. “We didn’t lay back, we didn’t try to protect the lead.”
“It’s definitely a tough pill to swallow,” he added. “You can’t leave yourself in a situation where one mistake will cost you the game.”
Coach Leone felt that after two periods of physical hockey the officials changed their tone in the third, and B.C. was left fighting off a 5-on-3.
“It was a physical hockey game, the girls get used to playing a certain way and then that changes,” said Leone, while also noting that B.C. made mistakes in their own zone that led to several Ontario chances.
It was Nurse’s overtime chance from the left faceoff circle that fooled Logan, bringing the Ontario-Red bench over the boards.
“I just threw it at the net,” said the forward, who was surprised herself the shot went in.
“I think after the first goal we gripped our sticks kind of hard, and lost our game plan a little bit,” said Nurse about Red’s early deficit. “Once we got back to our game plan we worked well together and got the goals.”
In the placement rounds held on Saturday, Alberta earned seventh place with a 6-2 win over Team Atlantic, and Québec took fifth place with an 8-4 victory over Saskatchewan.