Canada Gold scored three unanswered goals in the first period and held on to hand the U SPORTS All-Stars their first loss of the Summer Showcase 5-3 on Thursday afternoon.
After a pair of wins over Japan and France, it was U SPORTS’ first game against either of Canada’s two development teams.
U SPORTS started strong, keeping up pace with the Canada Gold, carrying the play for the majority of the first half of the period outshooting them 7-6. Canada seemed to find their legs just over midway through the frame, which led to a pair goals just a minute apart from Alexa Vasko and Ryleigh Houston.
Canada would add a third tally with 2:05 remaining for good measure, taking a 3-0 and outshooting U SPORTS 20-9. Claire Dalton would get credit for the sharp angle deflection that found its way past U SPORTS netminder Aube Racine.
As the second began, it took all of 32 seconds for U SPORTS to find the back of the net. Miranda Hatt of the Saint Mary’s Huskies re-directed a point shot from St. Thomas’ Alex Woods to cut the deficit down to just two. After Canada’s response three and half minutes later by captain Sophie Shirley, it was all U SPORTS to close out the period.
Nine minutes in, Concordia’s Audrey Belzile had some room down the right side and snapped it home. Six minutes later, Wood chipped one home to cut the lead to one heading into the final frame. U SPORTS outshot Canada 11-4 in the middle frame.
“We just had to play our game instead of worrying about their game,” said Belzile when asked about the adjustments the team had to make after the tough first period. “Just focus on ourselves and trust each other and good things will happen.”
The third saw both teams play more conservatively, with Canada turning to full defensive mode and only allowing one shot against through the first 15 minutes. U SPORTS would come close to tying it when a mad scramble in front of Alberta’s Kirsten Chamberlain saw a loose puck pop out to the stick of Hatt, who rang it off the crossbar. Shirley would put it away with her second of the day into the empty net, handing U SPORTS their first loss of the Summer Showcase.
Saskatchewan’s Bailee Bourassa says matching the speed with Canada is the key to competing on Friday.
“If we play like we did today but coming right out of the gate, we match their speed,” she said. “We don’t really have to change much in our game but we just have to stick to what we’ve been practicing all week”.
U SPORTS will now prepare to take on the second of the Canadian Development teams Friday at 3:15 p.m. ET / 12:15 p.m. PT.