GRANADA, Spain (CIS) – Morgan McHaffie, a forward from Queen's University, scored twice and earned the game puck from her teammates after leading Canada to a 5-2 win over Japan Wednesday afternoon in the first semi-final of the women's hockey tournament at the 27th Winter Universiade.
McHaffie (Guelph, Ont.) scored a key goal in a wild second period, then added some badly-needed insurance in the final moments for Canada to send the Red and White to their fourth straight Universiade gold medal game. The three-time defending champions (2-1) will face Russia (3-0) for the gold medal Thursday at 2:30 p.m. EST (8:30 p.m. local), live on www.fisu.tv.
The game will be a rematch of Sunday's Pool B finale where Russia prevailed 3-1 to hand Canada its first-ever Universiade loss in women's hockey, and also of the 2013 final in Trentino, Italy, where the Canucks scored a convincing 5-0 win.
Following a scoreless first where Canada struggled with turnovers and only managed eight shots on goal, a seven-minute stretch in the second period accounted for five of the semi-final's seven goals at Granada's Mulhacen Pavilion.
It began with a blast from the point from University of Saskatchewan defenceman Julia Flinton (Williams Lake, B.C.) that eluded Japanese netminder Nana Fujimoto to give Canada a 1-0 lead at 7:37. Less than two minutes later, McHaffie took a feed from Saint Mary's Breanna Lanceleve (Lower Sackville, N.S.) and buried it in close to make it 2-0.
"It got pretty intense there," said McHaffie of the second period. "We were trying to push the pace and get some more shots on net, and once we started crashing the net we got some opportunities to get a couple in. I have a lot of respect for them, they're a great team and they pushed right back."
Japan indeed had an answer, as Mayu Iwasaki put one past goalie Nicole Kesteris (Aurora, Ont.), sparking a crazy sequence that saw three goals scored in just 69 seconds.
Soon after Iwasaki's goal, Canada took a penalty but, on the kill, captain Laura Brooker (Fergus, Ont.) fed Tess Houston (Winnipeg) on a breakaway for a pretty goal that restored Canada's two-goal lead. Japan still had the power play, though, and when the dust settled, the lead was back to one after Chiho Osawa scored on the advantage.
With the goal-scoring flurry behind them, the teams traded chances but neither was able to convert. It was still a 3-2 game with 2:45 to play in the third period when McHaffie potted her second, to the delight of the 180 pro-Canadian fans in attendance. And with the clock winding down, Alex Normore (Bedford, N.S.) scored her first of the tournament to make it a 5-2 final.
"It was both relief and excitement," McHaffie said of the feeling when the puck went in. "We knew we had to get the next one, and we weren't going to settle for just a one-goal game. Banging that in definitely was a great sense of relief, but we still had time to play and we want to finish every game right to the end."
McHaffie now owns the Canadian goal-scoring lead in the tournament with three. She was joined in multi-point territory Wednesday by UPEI blueliner Keirstin Visser (Crapaud, P.E.I.), who picked up a pair of assists.
Canada outshot Japan 39-22 in the contest, including a 20-7 advantage in the second period. The University of Toronto's Kesteris, who has both wins for Canada in the tournament, was tested on many of the 22 shots she faced but held the fort for the Red and White.
For McHaffie, it's just another hurdle to overcome as the team has faced obstacle over obstacle in the Universiade tournament.
"We definitely faced some adversity once we got to the tournament with equipment issues, people getting here at different times and what not," she said. "Then we played Russia, who is a great team and they pushed us hard. That has only made us stronger as a group. We learned a lot in that game, and we're definitely going to utilize what we learned and emphasize our strengths. We know we can play much better and get some more scoring opportunities.
"We're looking forward to getting another crack at Russia, for sure."
NOTES: Canada has captured gold at all three FISU tournaments since women's hockey was added to the Winter Universiade program in 2009... In gold medal finals, the Canadians defeated China 3-1 (2009), Finland 4-1 (2011) and Russia 5-0 (2013)... Four members of the 2015 team return from the 2013 championship squad, including goaltender Élodie Rousseau-Sirois from the University of Montreal, defenceman Brittney Fouracres from McGill, as well as forwards Laura Brooker from Wilfrid Laurier and Alex Normore from StFX.
Team Canada website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/universiade/winter/2015/index
Granada 2015 website: http://www.granada2015.org/en/
TEAM CANADA SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times local / 6 hours ahead of EST)
Tuesday, Feb. 4 (20:30): Canada 7 Kazakhstan 1
Sunday, Feb. 8 (20:30): Russia 3, Canada 1
Wednesday, Feb. 11 (13:30): Canada 5, Japan 2 (semi-final)
Thursday, Feb. 12 (20:30): Canada vs. Russia (final / www.fisu.tv)
Canada 5, Japan 2
Yui Notoya (JPN) tripping, 5:38;
Mayu Iwasaki (JPN) hooking, 8:59;
Jessica Fickel (CAN) tripping, 16:54.
1. CAN Julia Flinton (1) (Keirstin Visser, Jenny MacKnight), 7:37
2. CAN Morgan McHaffie (2) (Breanna Lanceleve, Ariane Barker), 9:35
3. JPN Mayu Iwasaki (2) (Shiori Koike, Asami Ohashi), 14:02
4. CAN Tess Houston (1) (Laura Brooker), 14:43 SH
5. JPN Chiho Osawa (2) (Haruna Yoneyama), 15:09 PP
Maggie Litchfield-Medd (CAN) interference, 14:14;
Sena Sukuki (JPN) delay of game, 16:36;
Brittney Fouracres (CAN) cross-checking, 19:32.
6. CAN Morgan McHaffie (3) (Keirstin Visser, Maggie Litchfield-Medd), 17:15
7. CAN Alex Normore (1) (Jessica Kampjes, Daley Oddy), 18:56
Rio Sakamoto (JPN) tripping, 3:40;
Rio Sakamoto (JPN) hooking, 9:08;
Haruna Yonemata (JPN) holding the stick, 11:44;
Ariane Barker (CAN) interference, 11:44.
GOALS (by period)
CAN: 0-3-2: 5
JPN: 0-2-0: 2
SHOTS ON GOAL (by period)
CAN: 8-20-11: 39
JPN: 7-7-8: 22
CAN – Nicole Kesteris (W, 2-0, 22 shots, 20 saves, 2 GA, 60:00)
JPN – Nana Fujimoto (L, 3-1, 39 shots, 34 saves, 5 GA, 60:00)
REFEREE: Zuzana Findurova (SVK)
LINESMEN: Bettina Angerer (AUT), Brienne Stewart (USA)
FINAL POOL STANDINGS
GP W OTW OTL L GF GA PTS
1. JPN 3 3 0 0 0 16 1 9
2. CHN 3 2 0 0 1 14 2 6
3. USA 3 1 0 0 2 11 7 3
4. ESP 3 0 0 0 3 1 32 0
1. RUS 2 2 0 0 0 15 2 6
2. CAN 2 1 0 0 1 8 4 3
3. KAZ 2 0 2 0 0 2 19 0
3 points for a win in regulation
2 points for a win in overtime or shootout
1 point for a loss in overtime or shootout
Legend: W (win), OTW (OT win), OTL (OT loss), L (loss)