A one goal lead wasn’t enough for the Nipissing Lakers to hold on to, to propel them to a victory in the McCaw Cup final and the trophy was lifted instead by the Toronto Varsity Blues after a 2-1 win at Varsity arena on Saturday night.
In front of an electric crowd the Lakers took the early lead when Lana Duriez at 14:08 of the second period on a play with a handful of players crashing the crease and the puck sliding in past Varsity Blues netminder Erica Fryer.
But the Blues attack was relentless all night. Outshooting the Lakers 20-7 in the first period, the waves kept coming over the next 40 minutes and if not for Chantelle Sandquist the score could’ve looked a lot different.
Still you can only allow a team so many chances before they capitalize on an opportunity and the Varsity Blues did just that in the third, forcing a turnover behind the Lakers net and posting one short side under the pads to tie the game 1-1 at 16:17 of the third. It came off the stick of Katy McKenna with the Blues on the penalty kill and turned the momentum in their favour.
Nipissing tried to answer back, but once again the Varsity Blues took advantage of some crisp passing in the offensive zone and at 19:32Celine Frappier sent a high shot from the slot the found its way through traffic and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
“It wasn’t good enough to win” says Head Coach Darren Turcotte.
“We got ahead and tried to hold on and I made a bad coaching decision at the end of the game that cost us, plain and simple.”
As has been the story this post season, Sandquist was remarkable between the pipes making 49 saves in the losing effort.
“She’s been great for us and we’re a year separated from Marshall doing the same for us. She gave us every chance we had to win and that’s all we can ask of her.”
While this wraps up the OUA season for the Lakers, the USports Nationals awaits this week. In Montreal, the tournament will pit the top seven teams in the country going head to head to lift Canada's top prize in University Women’s hockey.
“Not a lot of teams get to play on after losing a game like this but we’ve put ourselves in that situation,” says Turcotte.
“We’re facing the same situation we were in a year so and we’ll just have to get reset and refocused for Thursday night.”