Montreal, QC – The No. 1 ranked Toronto Varsity Blues defeated the No. 7 ranked STFX X-Women 4-0 in the consolation final Sunday afternoon as they claimed fifth place overall in the national championship.
The X-Women wrapped up the three-day event with a 1-2 record in sixth place overall.
X-Men head coach Ben Berthiaume commented, "I think for the first two periods we were pretty tired and didn't play the game we needed to play. In the third period we were a lot better and we started to play the way we're capable of playing, but by then we were down four goals and it's pretty hard to comeback form that, especially at this tournament."
Special teams were the difference in the game as the Varsity Blues tallied three consecutive power play goals.
Lauren MacDonnell opened the scoring 2:56 into the game while on the power play as she banged in a rebound to give the Varsity Blues an early 1-0 lead.
The X-Women then had two power play opportunities of their own but could not solve Toronto goaltender Erica Fryer.
The Varsity Blues cashed in again while on the man advantage before the first period expired as Sophie Grawbarger found the puck on her stick and deposited it into the open net past X netminder Jamie Johnson who made the initial save off a Taylor Trussler shot.
The 2-0 lead held up for the OUA champions after 20 minutes as they held a slight 7-6 lead in shots in the opening frame.
X-Women leading scorer Maggy Burbidge noted during a first intermission interview that her squad needed to "get more shots in their zone and test the goalie, and try to get some pucks upstairs."
But it was Toronto who struck first in the second period as they tallied once again on the power play. Emma Potter scored 50 seconds in on a high shot over the shoulder of Johnson. The STFX penalty had carried over from the end of the first period.
Down 3-0, the AUS finalist X-Women struggled to convert on offense, as they were challenged to get a shot on net in the opening five minutes of the period.
The Varsity Blues made it a four-goal lead at the 15:29 mark of the period as Kaitlyn McKnight redirected a puck up and over Johnson in a wonky play.
Shots after 40 minutes of play favored Toronto at 17-11.
The teams were held off the scoreboard for the first half of the third period. The X-Women fought off a double-minor body checking penalty midway through.
STFX was unable to break the goose egg as Fryer earned the shutout win in the Toronto net with 16 saves in the game. Johnson had 14 saves for X in the losing effort.
Nike player of the game honours went to Toronto defense Emma Potter and STFX forward Ellie Brown.
The game marks the final one of the 2022-23 season for the X-Women who went 20-5-3 in regular season action, 4-3 in AUS playoffs and 1-2 at the U SPORTS championship.
Coach Berthiaume noted, "As far as the tournament goes, I thought our first game against UBC we played really well and could have won that game. Our second game against Nipissing was another great game for us and we played really well and showcased what we're capable of doing."
"I think we're right there with anyone in the country. A bounce here or there and maybe we end up in the semifinal game and then you never know. There's a lot of positives moving forward and looking ahead to next year, this program is moving in a great direction."
Later today will feature UBC and Montreal playing for the U SPORTS bronze medal, with Mount Royal and defending national champion Concordia playing for gold.
Recap courtesy Krista McKenna, STFX Athletics