CALGARY (CIS) – Alex Normore's shorthanded breakaway tally with just 6:28 to play capped off a furious third-period comeback as the fourth-seeded St. FX X-Women defeated No. 5 Guelph 4-3 Thursday to open the 2015 CIS women's hockey championship in Calgary.
Normore, a five-time All-Canadian, stole a loose puck at her own blue line and skated in all alone on Guelph netminder Stephanie Nehring, beating her high glove side as the X-Women came all the way back from a 3-0 second-period deficit to advance to the national semi-final. St. FX will face the winner of the late quarterfinal between host Calgary and No. 1 McGill Saturday at 3 p.m. local (5 p.m. ET), live on Sportsnet 360.
Guelph will face the loser of the Calgary-McGill Friday morning at 11 a.m. MT (1 p.m. ET) in the consolation side of the draw at the Markin MacPhail Centre.
The game-winner was Normore's second tally of the night, after she tied the game at three on the power play early in the third period on an afternoon where special teams played a key role as five of the seven goals in the contest came with the penalty box occupied.
"We didn't play our best hockey through the first forty minutes; we knew we had to win this game for a chance at a medal," she explained. "We've been down before in the AUS final and come back. We all bought in, we knew we could do it, believed in ourselves, came out – and did it."
In a contest between two teams each vying for their first national title, it was the Gryphons who grabbed the momentum first. After a dominating the shot clock by an 11-3 margin in the first period, Guelph finally broke through with back-to-back power play goals just 11 seconds apart in the early moments of the second. Kaitlyn Mora score the first on a five-on-three advantage, with Jessica Pinkerton connecting on the ensuing five-on-four situation 11 ticks later.
Guelph added to its lead just over four minutes later when Jessica Pellegrino beat X-Women goalie Sojung Shin.
Though the bulk of the comeback St. FX came in the third period, it got started midway through the second when Kara Power cut the Guelph lead to 3-1. Sarah Bujold pulled them within one at 4:13 of the third on the power play, setting the stage for Normore's late heroics.
"I noticed I was on my own, I went down and had a quick look," said Normore of her winning tally. "I had heard previously to look blocker side but I ended up going glove side, shot the puck and hoped for the best."
Despite dominating the bulk of the first two periods and outshooting St. FX by a 21-12 margin through 40 minutes, the Gryphons were unable to answer the momentum generated by the X-Women as the game wore on.
"We just wanted to make sure we were ready for their push and if they got a goal we would be able to squash the momentum," said Gryphons interim head coach Scott McMillan. "We knew the first couple of shifts after they got a goal would be big, we didn't want things to build, didn't quite work out that way."
Shin turned away 25 shots for the X-Women to earn the victory, while Nehring stopped 18 shots in a losing cause for the Gryphons. Pinkerton and Normore earned the respective player-of-the-game honours for their teams.
Winters (STFX) hooking; 7:16;
Oddy (STFX) checking to the head double-minor, 17:05;
Downey (STFX) tripping, 19:25.
1. GUE Kailtyn Mora (1) (Christine Grant), 0:55 PP
2. GUE Jessica Pinkerton (1) (Christine Grant, Brittany St. James), 1:06 PP
3. GUE Jessica Pellegrino (1) (Katherine Bailey, Gina Murray), 5:25
4. STFX Kara Power (1) (Alex Normore), 12:15
Pellegrino (GUE) tripping, 3:12;
Downey (STFX) cross checking, 15:04.
5. STFX Sarah Bujold (1) (Daley Oddy), 4:13 PP
6. STFX Alex Normore (1) (Taylor Dale), 5:56 PP
7. STFX Alex Normore (2) (unassisted), 13:32 SH
St. James (GUE) hooking, 2:34;
Sims (GUE) holding, 4:37;
Downey (STFX) interference, 11:10;
Garagan (STFX) holding 123:30.
GOALS (by period)
GUE 0-3-0: 3
STFX 0-1-3: 4
SHOTS ON GOAL (by period)
STFX 3-9-10: 22
GUE – Stephanie Nehring (L, 0-1, 22 shots, 18 saves, 4 GA, 58:12)
STFX – Sojung Shin (W, 1-0, 28 shots, 25 saves, 3 GA, 60:00)
PLAYERS OF THE GAME:
GUE: Jessica Pinkerton
STFX: Alex Normore
REFEREE: Melanie Bordeleaux
LINESMEN: Cianna Lieffers, Kaylah Krieger
CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times MOUNTAIN TIME)
Thursday, March 12
15:00 Quarter-final 1: StFX 4, Guelph 3
19:00 Quarter-final 2: No. 8 Calgary vs. No. 1 McGill (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
Friday, March 13
11:00 Consolation 1: No. 5 Guelph vs. Loser QF 2 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
15:00 Quarter-final 3: No. 7 Moncton vs. No. 2 Western (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
19:00 Quarter-final 4: No. 6 Montreal vs. No. 3 Alberta (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
Saturday, March 14
11:00 Consolation 2: Loser QF 3 vs. Loser QF 4 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
15:00 Semifinal 1: No. 4 StFX vs. Winner QF 2 (Sportsnet ONE / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *
18:30 Semifinal 2: Winner QF 3 vs. Winner QF 4 (Sportsnet ONE / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *
* The webcast of the semifinals & final are on pay-per-view basis.