For the second straight day, the U SPORTS All-Stars came up just short in overtime.
Ryerson’s Erika Crouse, Montreal’s Catherine Dubois and Saskatchewan’s Bailee Bourassa scored in regulation but it was Shiori Koike with the winning tally with three seconds left in the extra frame, as Japan beat U SPORTS 4-3 on Saturday to wrap up the 2019 Hockey Canada Summer Showcase.
Aube Racine stopped 16 of 20 shots for U SPORTS, who wrapped up the annual event with a record of 2-1-2.
Despite the final outcome, the weeklong event proved to be a positive experience for the players.
U SPORTS would get on the board first on their first shot of the game, as Crouse found the back of the net with a lob from the point only 2:25 in.
"It was pretty messy at first. Just covering one of the defense, and one of my players got me the puck,” said Crouse. “I just tried to find a lane and shot it."
From there, Japan began applying the pressure.
The U SPORTS All-Stars took four penalties in the first period, and Japan was able to capitalize on the power play, taking a 2-1 lead into the first intermission on goals by Chika Otaki and Akane Hosoyamada.
The second period saw U SPORTS come out flying, having Japan hemmed in their zone for the first half of the period.
Dubois tied the game at two just more than seven minutes into the second, making no mistake on a breakaway.
The final four minutes were back and forth, with Japan taking a 3-2 lead thanks to Kanami Seki at 15:46, and U SPORTS answering back a minute later with a goal from Bourassa.
Both teams refused to give an inch in the third, sending the game to overtime.
U SPORTS started on the power play, and believed they had scored the winning goal, only to have it waived off due to a foot being in the crease.
With only three seconds left, Koike scored to take the win.
"After that crease call, I don't know,” said Bourassa. “Them scoring with three seconds left is kind of a heartbreaker.”
The win avenged Japan’s 4-1 defeat to U SPORTS earlier in the week. Despite the dramatic ending, the U SPORTS All-Stars are still proud of what they accomplished together in Calgary. The team conceded just one game in regulation – highlighted by three straight close contests, including a pair of comebacks against Canada’s Development Teams.
"I think that's what our team has been doing best. We've been fighting through adversity," said assistant captain Lindsey Donovan. "We might not have stated strong, but we finished off strong."
Donovan wants to bring that close teamwork back to St. Francis Xavier University and her X-Women teammates when the season starts.
"Coming together so closely as a team, bringing that back to my team, we have to be close and that's what brings a great team together."
Even though they only had a week together, the team was able to unify behind a common goal.
"It's kind of surprising how close we all became in such a short period of time,” said Bourassa. “I think we all had a lot of the same goals coming into here. We wanted to prove that U SPORTS is a great league. I think all of us having that main goal helped us be successful. Even though some of these outcomes weren't the best, we all had a great experience here and we can all take a lot from it."
The U SPORTS regular season being Wednesday, Oct. 2 when the Saint Mary’s Huskies visit their crosstown rivals, the Dalhousie Tigers in Halifax.