Add CIS champion to Hayley Wickenheiser's impressive list of accomplishments.
Wickenheiser scored two goals and added two assists as the University of Calgary Dinos won their first ever CIS women's hockey championship with a 5-1 victory over the Universite de Montreal Carabins on Sunday at the University of Alberta's Clare Drake Arena.
It's the latest in a long run of hockey accomplishments for the 33-year-old Wickenheiser, who has led Canada to three Olympic golds and a silver and six world championships.
“This one is surprisingly very special,” she said. “It's not been an easy road for this team. Playing in this league has brought a lot of challenges. A lot of people wrote us off. I'm really proud of how much these girls have improved in a year's time. It's remarkable.”
Dinos' head coach Danielle Goyette, Wickenheiser's former teammate on the national team, was soaking in every moment after the victory.
“It was their Olympics,” she said. “As a player when you win something you have some emotion. But as a coach you multiply that by 23. It's hard to describe. The players worked so hard for this.
“At one point they thought about cutting this program and now five years since I have been there, here we are. This is just going to make this program better.”
Jenna Smith, Elana Lovell and Iya Gavrilova also scored for the third-ranked Dinos, who were making just their second appearance in the national championship tournament, having finished fifth in 2001 when they were the host team.
Calgary goalie Amanda Tapp was named the tournament MVP.
“It's amazing,” said the Calgary native. “To win it so close to home and have our parents be able to be here. It was very special to be able to share this. I'm just so proud to be a part of this program.”
It was the 18th consecutive win this season for the Dinos.
Elizabeth Mantha scored the lone goal for the sixth-seeded Carabins, also making their first appearance in a national final after just three years in the CIS.
“Just getting to the final was a great accomplishment for us,” said Montreal head coach Isabelle Leclaire. “We played an amazing game, probably one of our best performances ever. We had a lot of scoring opportunities. I have every reason to be proud of this.”
While some may question having a player of Wickenheiser's stature playing at the college level, Leclaire doesn't have a problem with it.
“We've faced other teams that have players with the national program as well,” she said. “I think it is a good learning experience for our players. I think they just realized that they can compete against a team like that and against a player who is among the best in the world. If you can compete against her, you can compete against anybody, which is a positive.”
It was a tight defensive battle for much of the first period before Canadian Olympic team mainstay Wickenheiser took over.
With 3:14 left in the opening frame, Wickenheiser put on a show short handed, cutting through the defence before scoring on a backhand.
Just over a minute later Wickenheiser scored her second of the match. She sent a wrist shot over the shoulder of Montreal goalie Rachel Ouellette for a 2-0 Calgary lead heading into the second period.
Tapp kept it a two-goal game with a huge stop on a partial breakaway by Kim Deschenes and several more quality saves during a Montreal power play midway through the second.
The Dinos went up 3-0 with just over a minute remaining in the middle period as Smith tipped home a point blast from Casey Irving.
Calgary extended their lead to four goals just over a minute and a half into the third as Wickenheiser made a nice feed to set up an easy tap in at the side of the net for Gavrilova.
The Carabins finally got on the board six minutes into the third as Mantha scored on a power play point blast.
Calgary went up 5-1 just past the period's midway point as Lovell intercepted a shot in front of the net and undressed Ouellette with a deft move to the backhand.
Earlier in the day, McGill defeated Wilfred Laurier 4-0 in the bronze medal match while the U of A Pandas got past UPEI 1-0 in the fifth-place game.
Notes: The Carabins upset top-seeded Wilfred Laurier 6-5 and then fourth-ranked UPEI 4-1 to advance through to the gold-medal game... The Dinos won both of their games to punch their own ticket to the final, defeating McGill 1-0 and the University of Alberta by a 4-2 score... In addition to former Canadian Olympians Wickenheiser and Goyette, the U of C team also featured former Russian Olympian Iya Gavrilova... Wickenheiser has posted 72 points in 31 games in two seasons with the Dinos... The defending champion McGill University Martlets had appeared in five consecutive gold-medal games in the tournament prior to missing out this season and had won three of the last four CIS championships.
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