LONDON, Ont. (U SPORTS) – The Montreal Carabins are headed to the consolation final after a 2-1 victory over the Saint Mary's Huskies on Saturday afternoon at the U SPORTS Women's Hockey Championship at Thompson Arena.
"For us the fifth place is very important, being fifth in the country among 33 teams is big even though it is a disappointment before you come in," said Montreal head coach Isabelle Leclaire. "What we discussed after the first game is this won't be the consolation final for us, it's the final game of our 2017-18 season, it's important for us to finish on a win and on something positive."
Annie Germain and Laurie Mercier had the goals for the Carabins, while Breanna Lanceleve provided the offence for Saint Mary's.
"I just think that except for that 10 to 15 second span there in the first, we were right there, we mismanaged the puck in the first half of the game a little more than I would like, but I thought it was a solid game," said Huskies head coach Chris Larade.
Off the opening draw, the Montreal Carabins controlled the play, hemming the Huskies into their own zone, while limiting any offensive chances and keeping Saint Mary's from recording a shot in the first five minutes.
However, it was the Huskies who drew first blood, when a stretch pass connected with Lanceleve at the blue line, springing her for a breakaway. Lanceleve roofed the puck, beating Carabins goalie Marie-Pier Chabot over the shoulder stick side.
"That's where the creativity shines through. It would be silly to try and hold fifth years back," said Larade. "That line has been playing together for the better part of their five years here, so they know where each other are all the time."
"We've been in that position so many times this year, we've came back from behind so many times to push the game into overtime so we knew we could do it," said Leclaire. "I felt that the bench stayed confident, and mindset was very good and I'm very happy about that."
The Carabins finally got on the scoresheet halfway through the frame, when a shot from the hashmarks was deflected by Germain into the top corner to tie things up.
The Carabins weren't done however, as they won their next faceoff and stormed the Huskies zone, with Mercier unleashing a wrist shot from the slot that trickled in under the glove of Rebecca Clark to take the lead just 10 seconds after tying the game.
"We were pretty pumped, and we got the momentum," said Carabins forward Catherine Dubois. "Everyone was happy, and we just wanted to go work hard and continue to play hard."
Saint Mary's almost managed to tie it up 15 seconds later on a breakaway, but Chabot stood tall to make the save and preserve the lead. The Carabins headed into the second period up 2-1.
In the second and third period, both teams shined defensively. Despite several great scoring opportunities, Clark shut down the Carabins' offence, and kept the Huskies in the game. On the other end of the ice, the Carabins defenders managed to get their sticks in the passing lanes, block shots, and break up several two-on-one opportunities for the Huskies, while Chabot turned away every puck that came her way.
"It was tighter in the second and third, but I think we got more scoring chances than they did," said Leclaire. "They had very good transitions and they were stretching the zone, they were hard to catch but even when they spent time in our zone, I felt we didn't give them too many good scoring chances."
Despite a final push from the Huskies when they pulled Clark for an extra attacker with just over a minute left in the third period, the Carabins defence held on to secure the 2-1 win.
The Carabins will now advance to the consolation final for fifth place, played Sunday at 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT at Thompson Arena.
Players of the Game
Montreal: Catherine Dubois
Saint Mary's: Laura Polak