Saint Mary’s forward Miranda Hatt’s tying goal with 1:43 remaining proved not enough, as U SPORTS fell to Canada Red in overtime 4-3 on Friday afternoon at WinSport Arena.
Down 3-1 heading to the third, U SPORTS scored two straight to force OT, before Canada’s Jaime Bourbonnais cashed the winner. Bourbonnais fired a point shot past McGill goaltender Tricia Deguire just over three minutes into the extra frame.
It was the second straight near comeback for U SPORTS against Canada’s pair of development teams at this year’s Summer Showcase.
“Playing Canada is always the most fun because you know girls on the other team,” said Hatt, whose equalizer came with an extra attacker in the dying minutes of the game. “It’s easier…to really fight through the adversity because we all believe in that locker room that we deserve to be here and we’re going to show them that nothing is going to be handed to them.”
Canada Red came out hot to the start the game, applying pressure early against the U SPORTS All-Stars. Deguire was holding her own in net, up against the constant pressure.
Scoreless after 19 minutes, it was Gabrielle David who put the first goal on the board for Canada Red, taking the puck at the U SPORTS end, and quickly putting it away.
Canada Red opened the second with the same intensity, as Lindsay Agnew found the back of the net in the first two minutes of the second. A closing the hand on the puck penalty by Canada Red gave U SPORTS an opportunity to turn the game around.
U SPORTS’ trio of Alberta Pandas capitalized on the penalty. Autumn MacDougall would get the goal, with the assists going to her Alberta linemates – captain and reigning Player of the Year Alex Poznikoff, as well as Kennedy Ganser – who all ranked in the top eight in the national scoring race last season.
It seemed the momentum was turning to the U SPORTS side, after another penalty by Canada Red. Though they couldn’t capitalize on the power play, Canada Red quickly retaliated with another goal, with Jessica DiGirolamo scoring just past the 11 and a half minute mark. U SPORTS trailed the Canadian side 3-1 at the end of the second period.
U SPORTS came out of the break with a lot to prove, and a large gap to close.
“We showed a lot of resiliency (in the third),” said MacDougall. “We just pushed back and kept our feet going and we really pushed at the end. That’s what we said during the intermission we wanted to do.”
A breakaway from Hatt looked promising, but the shot fell short.
Then, Concordia’s Audrey Belzile found space for her own breakaway. The U SPORTS assistant captain found St. Thomas defender Alex Woods for the goal with just eight minutes to go, to cut the deficit to one.
With just over three and a half minutes left and U SPORTS swarming the Canada goal, Poznikoff nearly had the tying mark, after her wraparound attempt was called back thanks to the net being dislodged right before the puck crossed the line.
Then with two minutes to play, head coach Marc-André Côte took the gamble to pull Deguire for the extra attacker. He did the same in the game against Canada Gold, but it didn’t pay off.
This time, it did. After a timeout and with 1:43 on the clock, Hatt fired a shot from the point to even the game and give U SPORTS a chance in OT, before Bourbonnais sealed the victory.
Canada Red dominated offensively throughout the contest, outshooting U SPORTS 9-2 and 51-25 overall. But it was Deguire who held the team in the game stopping 47 shots to help set the stage for the comeback.
“For the past three summers, that’s been the strength of the U SPORTS team – the togetherness of the players – and it just showed over the past three days,” said Côte. "The no-quite attitude, the character they have just speaks for itself.”
U SPORTS will play their final game of the Summer Showcase on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT in a rematch against Japan, who they beat 4-1 on Tuesday to open the event.