NAPANEE – Sports – The tournament host Queen’s Gaels put in a valiant effort but ultimately fell 2-1 to the No.1 seed UBC Thunderbirds in Thursday night’s primetime 2017 U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship quarterfinal at Napanee’s Strathcona Paper Centre.
With goaltenders Amelia Boughn and Stephanie Pascal holding down the fort in the UBC and Queen’s nets respectively, the game appeared destined for overtime until T-Birds forward Nicole Saxvik dangled and deposited a slick backhand effort inside the final three minutes.
UBC will now face No.4 McGill on semifinal Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, while Queen’s will face No.6 StFX in a consolation game Friday at 7 p.m. ET. Both games will be streamed live at OUA.TV.
The T-Birds are on the hunt to avenge their 8-0 defeat in last year’s gold-medal game, and Thursday’s hard-fought victory over Queen’s was another step on their team’s journey for redemption.
“I’m proud of our group for sticking to the system, staying resilient and making sure we finished it off,” said UBC head coach Graham Thomas, whose team outshot Queen’s 37-18. “We’re that much closer, (and) now we have to stick to the process – we’re excited for the opportunity to get back there.”
Stephanie Schaupmeyer and Saxvik had the goals for UBC, while Kaylie Dennis scored the lone goal in the loss for Queen’s.
Both Boughn and Pascal turned in incredible performances, with Boughn making 17 saves — some of serious difficulty — en route to the win and Pascal stopping 35 of 37 in a courageous losing effort.
Boughn was called into action eight minutes into the first period, when she shot across her crease to rob Queen’s captain Jessica Wakefield at point-blank range.
UBC then drew first blood late in the opening frame, when Schaupmeyer, UBC’s captain, shovelled a loose puck past Pascal off a power play scramble.
The Gaels responded with a goal-mouth scramble goal of their own at 6:14 of the second period, when Dennis potted a goal from in tight to blow the roof off the Strathcona Paper Centre.
Pascal held the Gaels in as long as she could in a UBC-dominated third period, before Saxvik’s top-shelf backhand at 17:17 of the final stanza, to put the final note on the tri-colour’s hopes of a medal.
Boughn, who had been battling a stomach virus in the hours leading up to Thursday’s game, made a spectacular glove save with mere seconds remaining in regulation to preserve the white-knuckle win for UBC.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our team,” said Queen’s head coach Matt Holmberg. “The team proved that it belongs in this tournament and that we can go toe-to-toe with the No.1 team in the country -we build confidence from this even though we were unsuccessful.”
The story of Thursday’s game was the goaltenders; both Pascal and Boughn made a number of jaw-dropping stops, and UBC’s far-from-comfortable victory was only possible with Boughn’s steady play between the pipes.
For Queen’s, Thursday’s defeat was an admirable effort given their No.8 seed and the fact the Gaels hadn’t played since Feb. 26.