The Ontario Women’s Hockey Association was proudly represented at the 2013 Canadian Under-18 Nationals. Contested in Alberta, Rink A of the Marion MacPhail Centre found Team Ontario Red facing off against Team Ontario Blue in the gold medal game.
Adding a touch of irony to the game was the invovelment of the coaches. Bradi Cochrane was part of Team Ontario Blue’s coaching staff at the 2012 U18 Nats. An underdog at the event, Cochrane and Team Blue would take home the gold medal. Kim McCullough, the founder of Total Female Hockey served with Dave Gwyn and Shaun Reagan with Team Ontario Red in 2012. Favored to win the event, Team Red would garner a bronze medal.
This year, Cochrane was the head coach of Team Ontario Red while McCullough served as head coach of Team Ontario Blue. Two of the rising stars in the coaching ranks, the gold medal game was their coming out party.
In the first period, Team Red came out strong as they outshot Team Blue by an astounding 16-5 margin. Goaltender Shea Tiley (Waterloo PWHL) worked tirelessly for Team Blue as the first half of said period was a defensive stalemate. Brooke Hartwick (Bluewater PWHL) gave Team Red the 1-0 lead at the 12:19 mark. With only five seconds to go, Nadine Edney (Mississauga PWHL) logged a power play goal for Team Red as Kirsten Welsh (Whitby PWHL) served a minor for body checking. It was one of four power plays that Team Red enjoyed in the first.
While Team Blue made some adjustments and would outshoot Team Red by a 14-7 tally in the second stanza, they could not erase their deficit. Kassidy Sauve (Whitby PWHL) was solid between the pipes for Team Red as they would extend their lead to a 5-0 mark before Team Blue scored.
Goals by Rebecca Leslie (Ottawa PWHL), Edney and Lauren Wildfang (Toronto PWHL) were logged in a timespan of 11 minutes and 37 seconds as two were on the power play. With Wildfang serving a penalty in the final minute of the period, Kennedy Marchment (Durham West PWHL) put Team Blue on the scoreboard.
Heading into the final frame, Team Red enjoyed an insurmountable lead. Another three goals would be scored in the frame but the squad could never capitalize on the power play. Of note, Team Blue would be penalized four times in the frame.
Teammates with the Toronto Jr. Aeros of the PWHL, Taytum Clairmont and Mackenzie MacNeil would provide the scoring for Team Red. MacNeil would score at 6:03 while Clairmont had a game to remember.
She would score shorthanded early in the third while logging the game’s final goal at the 10:25 mark for a five point output. Both goals in the first period were assisted by Clairmont, while she assisted on Edney’s goal in the second. With points in every period of the game, she was clearly the game’s most outstanding performer.
In addition, Clairmont would finish the event as Team Red’s leading scorer, having accumulated six points. Following her were Victoria Bach and Rebecca Leslie with five points each. Team Blue’s leading scorer would be Marchment as she registered three goals and four assists for a sparkling seven points. Kirsten Miller was second on Team Blue with four points.
With many of the contestants in the gold medal game having been invited to Team Canada’s National Under-18 evaluation camp, there is no question that the future of women’s hockey in Ontario remains strong. Heading into the IIHF 2014 U18 Women’s Worlds, fans should get accustomed to hearing names such as Clairmont, Marchment and Sauve.