CALGARY (CIS) – Tournament MVP Kelly Campbell recorded a 38-save shutout to lead the Western Mustangs to a 5-0 victory over the defending champion McGill Martlets to claim their first ever Golden Path Trophy in the CIS women's hockey championship final Sunday night.
The heavily-favoured Martlets, who had made appearances in six of the last eight national finals, were dethroned by a Mustangs team that was participating not only in its first ever CIS championship game, but its inaugural appearance at a CIS national championship tournament. Western relied on a hot goaltender, who allowed just one goal in the 94 shots she faced in the tournament, shutting out the two highest-scoring offences in the nation this season in Montreal and McGill.
With five goals on just 15 shots, Western became the third Ontario school in history to capture the CIS women's hockey title and the first since Wilfrid Laurier a decade ago in 2005.
"There's no way to describe this feeling," said Campbell, who was named the first team All-Canadian netminder Wednesday night. "We've worked so hard as a team over the past year and we have the team behind me, I knew we had it the entire time and to get this win against McGill is incredible.
"They did [get a lot of shots] but the shots weren't too bad my team was blocking a few and keeping them wide so overall I wasn't too worried about it."
The McGill team that took 10 of the first 11 shots of the game got a shock when a wrist shot through traffic from Mustangs rookie Anthea Lasis found the back of the net on just their second shot of the game at the Markin MacPhail Centre.
Leading 1-0 despite being heavily outplayed after 20 minutes, Western got two more quick ones in the first five minutes of the second, which ended Marlets goaltender Taylor Hough's night after she allowed three goals on just seven shots.
McGill continued to pour on the pressure but Western jumped on every opportunity to counterattack, which led to their fourth goal by championship all-star Kendra Broad as she ripped a shot past Brittany Smrke on an odd-man rush. Despite several chances, including a partial breakaway by McGill's championship all-star Gabrielle Davidson, Campbell was not letting anything past her, making every save look easy against a frustrated McGill offense.
"What's there to say about her – I mean she's just, she intimidates the other teams," said Mustangs head coach Chris Higgins "You could see it, they were trying to go top shelf. They just weren't shooting at the net they were trying to pick the smallest corners. She's unbelievable, and the girls in front of her, there are no rebounds, right? She kicked one out and we got it out of the zone."
"We were getting pucks to the net but we weren't getting opportunities," explained McGill head coach Peter Smith. "They did a really good job of keeping us away from the net and to the outside so we didn't get a lot of chances and with that goalie, I think that's what you have to do. She's going to stop everything that she can see. We had a hard time getting to the net."
The Martlets were unable to generate any momentum in the third period, as Western stayed strong on defence allowing no comeback opportunity for McGill. A fifth goal in the final minute of play topped off a thrilling game for Western.
"Win or lose the final games, it doesn't change my outlook of this team," said Smith. "I'm very, very proud of them and what they've accomplished over the course of this year. We didn't end the season quite the way we had hoped for, but I'm still real proud of them."
The Mustangs completed the upset despite being badly outshot 38-15. McGill went 0-3 on the power play, while Mustangs capitalized on two of five power play opportunities.
"If four years ago you would have told me that I'd be standing here today I probably would have laughed at you a little bit," said Campbell. "Just to get with Western and see the program advance over the last few years has just been incredible."
The University of Calgary will again host the CIS women's hockey championship in 2016.