MONTREAL, QC – The Mount Royal Cougars defeated the Concordia Stingers 4-3 in a nail-biting overtime thriller to win their first ever U SPORTS Women’s Hockey National Championship after equalizing with less than two seconds left in the third period.
Just after the halfway mark of the overtime period, with the puck on her stick, Cougars’ defenseman Emma Bergesen used her speed to enter the offensive zone untouched and juked around one defender before firing a strong wrist shot on target which trickled past Stingers’ goaltender Alice Philbert.
Realizing what just happened, the Cougars’ bench emptied onto the ice, hands in the air in celebration of their monumental achievement.
Cougars’ forward Breanne Trotter scored her second of the game – and third of the tournament – to tie the game with under two seconds to play with a powerful wrist shot from the right faceoff dot that found the top left corner of the net. Trotter was named the Cougars’ player of the game.
The Cougars end their season on a positive note, after falling two games to one to the UBC Thunderbirds in the Canada West Final.
The Stingers – who defeated the Montreal Carabins in a three game series to claim the RSEQ championship – fell just short of repeating as National Champions after beating the Nipissing Lakers 4-0 in last year’s final.
The first period was a physical, defensive battle that saw both teams exchange quality scoring chances and both goalies made a handful of highlight real saves to keep the game scoreless.
The Stingers opened the scoring early in the second period after Chloe Gendreau forced a turnover in the neutral zone before beating Cougars’ goalie Kaitlyn Ross. The Stingers dominated the first half of the second period; their physical, aggressive defence shut the Cougars out.
After the midway point of the second frame, the Cougars started to control possession, spend more time in the offensive zone and they created better scoring chances with their strong puck movement and eye-opening speed.
Forward Ava Metzger leveled the game 1-1 late in the second period finishing off a brilliant passing play.
The third period was an incredible back-and-forth affair which saw four goals, including two powerplay goals, a penalty shot and the unforgettable buzzer beater to force overtime.
Trotter’s slapshot one-timer on the powerplay two minutes in the third to give the Cougars their first lead of the game.
Less than 2:30 later, Stinger’s centerman Rosalie Begin-Cyr made no mistake on her penalty shot, entering the zone with blazing speed and patiently outwaiting the goalie before juking around her and tucking the puck into an open cage to tie the game 2-2.
With under eight minutes left to play, the Stingers got what they thought would be the game winning goal. Forward Megan Burean-Gagnon finished off a brilliant sequence by tapping home the rebound off Gendreau’s initial shot which came from the bottom of the left faceoff circle – for her second point of the evening – a play that started in the neutral zone after Sandrine Veillette forced a turnover and quickly moved the puck to Gendreau.
Despite outshooting the Cougars 32-24, it wasn’t enough for the Stingers. Ross was the differencemaker between the pipes, stopping 29 of 32 shots she faced in the win. Ross was named the game’s MVP after her excellent performance.
Late in the third period, Ross made several huge saves to keep the deficit only one. The Cougars created the better scoring chances and used their quickness to turn defensive stops into transition attacks which led to the tying goal.