Team North female placed ninth after the round-robin of the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Champion and had two games Thursday to earn a berth into the quarter-finals.
In their first game, they played Eastern Door and North (EDN) and beat them 7-0. The second game saw them pitted against New Brunswick where they pulled off a 5-1 victory.
We will begin with the late game. The first period both teams played reserved skating to a scoreless first frame. Team North assistant coach, and Yukoner, Candice MacEachen said playing sound defence is something the team has worked on.
“Obviously coming from the North we focus on D first and then get those offensive chances when we can,” said MacEachen. “But I think overall, it was just that connection of finding lines that worked. The last couple of games we found the players that work well together and it’s paying off.”
The North lost their two round-robin games to B.C. and Saskatchewan but now MacEachen believes the team is starting to click.
“Coming from three territories, not playing together just getting that experience, that connection, within the team both on and off the ice that they build those bonds, know where each other are at, chemistry,” said MacEachen.”
In the second period, Team North blew the game wide open scoring four goals. Samantha McLeod notched the first on a power play with a wrist shot that hit post and in. The assist went to Maiya Nadrowski.
Charlotte Siksik added to the lead rifling a shot into the top corner.
New Brunswick responded with a goal off of Martine Hache but Kyra McDonald restored the two-goal lead after knocking in her own rebound off a breakaway chance.
McDonald added some insurance late in the frame on another solo rush this time beating the goalie five-hole.
Siksik added the insurance marker just past the midway point of the third knocking in a rebound.
In their first game of the day against EDN, Team North jumped on them early and did not relent. They were led on offence by McDonald who notched four goals in the victory.
“I promised my team a hat trick but I wasn’t expecting four,” said McDonald with a big smile.
“It felt amazing. We haven’t scored this much in a long time, it’s kind of making history for Team North female.
“We usually don’t score as much or win as much games as we are now. We’ve been coming really close to really good teams and we haven’t done that in the past as much.”
MacEachen said this is the best a Team North female team has done in the tournament.
McDonald said to start their second day of the tournament off with a win is a really good forward and she hoped they could continue that momentum into their next game.
“We’ve been really clicking and it’s like we’ve been playing together for a lot of years,” said McDonald.
Chandelle Leonard got the Team North on the board first with an unassisted effort.
McDonald ended the first frame by breaking in on the EDN goalie and whistling a wrist shot under the goalie’s arm.
Siksik picked up the lone assist.
Midway through the second frame, McDonald found the back of the net again this time on the power play. Siksik won the puck battle and found McDonald in the slot who made no mistake firing the puck into the top shelf.
With less than a minute remaining in the second period Team North notched another two goals.
McLeod saved the puck from crossing the blue-line. With some space to move, she gained some momentum and unleashed a slap-shot short side just over the goalie’s outstretched pad.
With only 37 seconds remaining in the second McDonald kept her promise to her team of scoring a hat trick. Danica Taylor and Martina Daniels got the assists.
Up by five, Team North did not let up on the pressure.
McLeod scored her second of the game with another slap-shot from the point. McDonald picked up a helper.
To all but seal the victory, McDonald scored the team’s final goal. She received a pass Daniels on the red line and from a bad angle banked it in off the goalie’s pad. Jenna Demarcke got the other assist.
Team North will play their quarter-final game today at the Canada Games Centre at 2:45 p.m.
The game will be a rematch of their first game of the tournament against B.C. where they lost 3-1.