CANADA PULLS AWAY FOR FIRST ICEBREAKER WIN
JASON LA ROSE
CALGARY, Alta. – Jill Saulnier (Halifax, N.S./Calgary, CWHL) scored the game-winning goal on a spectacular effort, and Canada’s National Women’s Team netted three unanswered goals to beat the Calgary Flames 4-1 on Friday night.
The victory is the first for the Canadian women at the Icebreaker Tournament, a start-of-season event against three teams from the Alberta Midget Hockey League.
Just over two minutes after the Flames had tied the game in the second period, Saulnier raced in alone and, after being pulled down, stayed with the puck and swept the go-ahead goal through Calgary goaltender Riley Fonger from her back.
Canada struggled to find its offensive footing early, going without a shot on goal until a power play with just over seven minutes to go in the first period.
The Flames held a 9-6 advantage in shots in the opening frame, but Rebecca Johnston (Sudbury, Ont./Calgary, CWHL) got the Canadians on the board with 7.8 seconds to go, flying down the left wing before beating Fonger to the far side.
Taylor Makar – younger brother of NHL first-rounder Cale Makar – jammed in the 1-1 goal to pull the Midget side even at 11:39 of the second period, but that would be the lone puck to beat Geneviève Lacasse (Kingston, Ont./Calgary, CWHL), who finished with 27 saves.
The Saulnier goal capped a strong middle stanza for the Canadians, who peppered Fonger with 19 shots in the period. They held a 32-28 advantage in shots on goal overall.
Natalie Spooner (Scarborough, Ont./Toronto, CWHL) added insurance for Canada seven minutes into the third period, jumping off the bench and into the play before taking a feed from Jennifer Wakefield (Pickering, Ont./Linköping HC, SWE) and snapping a quick shot past the blocker of Fonger.
Marie-Philip Poulin (Beauceville, Que./Montreal, CWHL) finished the scoring less than three minutes later with an unassisted effort, sweeping around the Flames defence and tucking in the final goal.
The Canadians finish the preliminary portion of the Icebreaker Tournament on Saturday, facing off against the Calgary Royals (5:30 p.m. MT).