Big day on the ice for Team NT’s girls hockey team at the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta., today.
The girls took down Newfoundland and Labrador this afternoon by a score of 4-1. Abby Webster of Hay River scored what turned out to be the eventual winning goal late in the second period while goaltender Jamie Cluff shut down the very same team that beat Yukon the night before, 15-1, by making 41 saves on 42 shots.
Head coach Jessica Cox said the girls outright earned the win.
“We were first on the puck drop, we battled all game, our forecheck and backcheck was strong and we never let up on them,” she said.
Sarah Fleming of Yellowknife opened the scoring in the second period followed by Webster late in the second stanza. Webster added her second goal, Team NT’s third, early in the third period before Newfoundland and Labrador got on the board to make it 3-1.
Newfoundland and Labrador pulled their goalie late in the third period to try and find two goals to tie the game but Regan Bulger sealed their fate by firing one into the empty net from her own faceoff circle.
Cox said Cluff was outstanding the entire game between the pipes.
“She was in the zone,” she said. “She made so many big saves and kept giving us the chances.”
As mentioned, Newfoundland and Labrador laid it on Yukon thick in their opening game and Cox said she was unsure what to expect in this contest, considering her girls has been shut out by Prince Edward Island the night before.
“We’ve always considered the territorial teams to be on par with each other and so when Newfoundland dominated Yukon, it kind of set up our expectations a bit,” she said. “We knew we would have to battle hard, keep digging, win the battles and earn their respect. The word we kept using was relentless and we were.”
The girls will now take on Yukon tomorrow and if they win that, they would be in line for a qualification game on Wednesday, which is the first step toward the playoffs. Their place in the qualification round all depends on the result of P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador’s game tomorrow.
Cox said there is absolutely no looking past Yukon whatsoever.
“We’re not going to put the cart before the horse,” she said. “It will be shift-by-shift and demonstrate that we are the stronger team and see where it will take us.”